First Look: 2008 Dodge Dakota
By: Mike Levine Posted: 02-04-07 02:35 PDT
© 2007

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Maybe we should call the 2007 Chicago Auto Show 'Nip Truck'?

Nissan won't be the only manufacturer to take the bandages off a freshly facelifted pickup. Dodge is also giving some Botox to the 2008 Dodge Dakota to make up for some droopy sales, which sagged over 20% in 2006.

Like the 2008 Nissan Titan, the most noticeable change about the Dakota is its spruced up nose. The lines are cleaner than the current pickup but there's some funky disconnect going on between the front end and the rest of the truck from the A-pillar back. It's kind of like seeing an old friend who had rhinoplasty but they still haven't hit the gym or gotten the lipo sucked out. Definitely there's some holistic symmetry that's gone missing after this surgery.

However, if beauty truly is more than skin deep, than this is one exotic and unique midsize pickup.

Under the hood is a rebuilt and reengineered 4.7-liter V8 that puts out 290-horsepower and 380 lb-feet of torque. This is a major boost in power over the 2007 Dakota which squeezes out 260-horses and 310 lb-feet, making the 2008 Dakota first in its segment when it comes to aerobics.

The 4.7-liter V8 still isn't tattooed with a HEMI sticker but it does get to borrow some tricks from its handsome big brother by adding twin spark plugs to each cylinder head for improved combustion and using a lighter piston and rod assembly. An electronic, drive-by-wire throttle control is also added.

The base Dakota will continue to offer the same 3.7-liter V6, which produces 210-horsepower and 235 lb-feet of torque.

The inside of the truck is updated - most noticeably with a new instrument panel and center stack, which can be equipped with a large LCD screen for navigational needs or an extreme close up. Other new features include a remote starter and heated bench seats with underside storage.

Overall assessment: Dodge is serious in trying to improve the Dakota against intense competition from the younger Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma pickups. The question is, will buyers go for the hot imports or stick with this domestic MILF until the next Dakota comes along around 2010?

The 2008 Dodge Dakota will go on sale in late summer 2007.

We'll have more news about this pickup when we cover the 2007 Chicago Auto Show direct from McCormick Place convention center.

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