Mitsubishi is struggling in the U.S. market because it just won’t sell us the good things it makes. The lineup we get here in the States is abysmal with just the decade-old Outlander, the ill-named Eclipse Cross, and the only car I’d rather walk than own Mirage. That’s two crossovers and an inexpensive subcompact. That’s not much of a lineup for Americans. There’s a reason Mitsu hasn’t been a player here for a decade or more. It needs a truck.
Mitsubishi makes a truck for other markets called the Triton. Admittedly it’s a compact pickup built not here, so it would fall afoul of the dreaded Chicken Tax. Perhaps it doesn’t make financial sense to import it here, and Mitsu would have a hard time finding a way to pay for building it here. Shame, because it might be a pretty decent compact truck in a market of larger and more expensive trucks.
Instead, thanks to Mitsubishi’s tie up with the Renault Nissan group, it may be able to crib a next-gen Frontier chassis from Nissan to underpin a next-gen Triton. The current going rumor is that this next pickup chassis, still a proper body-on-frame unit, will allegedly also see use as a Renault Alaskan and a Mercedes-Benz X-Class, in addition to a pair of Nissan trucks.
There is no confirmation yet to the rumor, and it may not even arrive for another three or four years, but Mitsubishi desperately needs something. It hasn’t had a pickup in the pickup-crazy U.S. market since 2009's Dodge Dakota-based Raider.
The next-gen Nissan Frontier is on the way for the 2021 model year. According to Carscoops, it will offer a new 300 horsepower V6 engine, and rumors of a 7-speed automatic gearbox—the current Frontier has a 5-speed—and an entry level model with a four cylinder.
If a Nissan-based Raider can help get Mitsubishi back on track, I’m all for it. Like buying an old house, Mitsubishi has good bones, but it’s going to need a complete revamp to bring it back up to modern standards. Here’s hoping that revamp comes sooner than later.