The new 2005 Dodge Dakota—which is considered a midsize pickup—is
every bit as capable as the half-ton fullsize pickup of just 20 years
ago. In the life cycle of a pickup, that’s not very long. Trucks
can easily serve owners that many years on the road or ranch.
So just what is a half-ton pickup, anymore? The astonishing pace at which
midsize trucks have developed completely blurs the line between our traditional
classifications of pickups.
A 1985 Dodge D100 pickup had a GVWR of 4800 pounds. The D150 was rated
between 4800 and 5850 pounds. The biggest engine available that year for
the half-ton pickup was a 5.9-liter V8 rated at 185 horsepower.
a 2-wheel-drive Dodge Dakota Club Cab carries a GRWR of 6010 pounds and
can be ordered with a 250-horsepower 4.7-liter V8. The 6010-pound rating
is the same base GVWR as the revolutionary 1994 Dodge Ram 1500 2WD pickup.
The 5.9-liter V8 that year was rated at 230 horsepower.
In other words, the new Dakota is big and powerful. Maybe too big? Hardly.
Most other so-called compact/midsize trucks—the Nissan Frontier,
Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma—have grown considerably
for 2005. Only the Ford Ranger, which is still the best-selling truck
in this category, remains unchanged. The days of a truly inexpensive,
lightweight, fuel-efficient regular cab pickup are fading fast. Small
trucks are in competition with big trucks, mostly due to the massive incentives
and desirable content available on fullsize pickups. A few years ago,
cross-shoppers of small trucks would list a small car as their second
choice. Now it’s a fullsize truck.
Dodge expects Dakota to improve on its traditional fourth-place standing
in small-truck sales race not only by boasting it’s the biggest,
but by boasting it can do the work of a big truck.
“Dakota delivers fullsize capability in a midsize package,”
says Dodge Vice President Mike Donoughe, noting the Dakota can do the
job of a fullsize pickup and still offer better fuel economy and maneuverability.
Of course, fullsize trucks have grown considerably in recent years, so
the one-upsmanship between manufacturers won’t end soon. Dakota
has always been the biggest of the small trucks but lacked a reputation
for fit ‘n’ finish and reliability. The new Dakota has addressed
those issues and more.