The Dodge Raider makes the roadway feel like a tightrope on which you are tiptoeing precariously.

Stability and road-hugging security aren`t the Raider`s strong suits.

Raider is a 4-wheel-drive utility vehicle. With its short (92-inch)wheelbase, high center of gravity and oversized P235/15 Michelin all-seasontires directed by power steering, you have to put up with road wander andquestionable balance.

A 2.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine is standard, with a 5-speed manualtransmission. The model we drove had the new, optional, 3-liter V-6 with 5speed. The 3-liter is fairly peppy, but with the machine`s stability, you`llwant to have a light foot on the pedal on anything but dry, flat, openstretches.

The V-6 is rated at 15 m.p.g. city/18 highway, which is perhaps thereason a 19.8 gallon fuel tank comes with that engine.

The V-6, at $1,727, is a stiff option that includes coil springs for therear suspension, the 19.8-gallon tank and the Michelin all-season tires.Automatic transmission is a $730 option.

Raider is the Dodge version of the Mitsubishi Montero (Autos, Nov. 21).Unlike Montero, Raider is offered only in a 2-door version. Those entering theback seat suffer from lack of access. The front passenger seat partially foldsand flips forward, but the opening is so narrow you have to leave your hips inthe front seat.

Despite its crudeness, Raider has a noteworthy feature: The driver`s seat has an adjustable suspension for soft or firm ride.

Raider has part-time 4-wheel drive, with automatic locking hubs that canbe engaged from within the cab.

The model we drove was finished in a brilliant yellow, a great color tobe seen in when the weather is poor but hard to hide in when the less-than-stylish bucket treks along the roadway.

Raider base price: $12,805.