The Dodge Dakota is the perfect size for many pickup truck consumers; it's not too small or too big. The problem is that incentives on full-size trucks, like the Ram, put pressure on potential Dakota buyers to purchase larger trucks.
The Dakota has impressive towing and hauling capabilities, sharp exterior styling and decent interior accommodations, but there's no regular cab. The Dakota comes in extended cab or crew cab only, riding a shared 131-inch wheelbase. The extended cab has a 6-foot-4-inch cargo box, while the bed in the crew cab is 5 feet 3 inches long.
The Dakota is one of only two compact or midsize trucks available with a V-8 engine. The base power plant is a V-6. Both cabs are available in three trims: ST, Big Horn/Lone Star and Laramie. The TRX4 off-road package is offered only in 4x4 models.
The Dakota's strongest selling points are its size and capability. Maximum towing capacity is 7,250 pounds, and all V-8 models are rated to tow at least 5,500 pounds.
New for 2011
The Dakota receives two new exterior colors: Hunter Green Pearl and Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl. For 2011, all Dakota models receive standard antilock brakes and side curtain airbags.
Dodge gave the Dakota a front-end makeover for 2008. The edges are crisp and the styling elements are well-integrated. The cargo bed has chiseled wheel flares to match the aggressive front end. The Dakota looks good with either the chrome grille or monochromatic finishes.
The Dakota's interior has nice touches, including white-face electroluminescent gauges, extra storage options and available heated leather seating. Some interior materials are not as kind to the touch as other vehicles in the segment, but the roomy cab is arguably quieter on the road than other compact trucks.
Under the Hood
While the Dakota is behind the curve in offering advanced features, the truck has a solid chassis and body structure. Side curtain airbags and four-wheel antilock brakes are now standard for the 2011 model year. Electronic stability control is still not available, but the Enhanced Accident Response system will turn on interior lights, unlock doors and shut off the fuel pump should the airbags deploy.
Of Interest to Truck Owners