The Dodge Dakota is the perfect size pickup for many buyers who are looking for both function and economy. The Dakota Crew Cab is big enough to haul 6 adults and their gear and can tow up to 7,250 lbs. And the Dakota has sharp exterior styling to go along with the ability to be a work horse.
The Dakota comes in Extended Cab or a Crew Cab; there is no regular cab available. Both share a 131-inch wheelbase chassis. 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 comes standard with a 3.7 liter V6 engine. The V6 feels a bit light on power for this big, heavy pickup. The 3.7-liter V6 is rated 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy ratings range from 15/20 mpg City/Highway with automatic and 2WD. I would probably go for the optional 4.7-liter V8 with 302 horsepower and the fuel economy is actually better at 15/21 City/Highway.
The Dodge Dakota looks nearly as big as the full-size Dodge Ram. It's the biggest pickup available in the midsize class. And its 7,250-pound maximum towing capacity is the best in the class. The Dakota is a midsize pickup with the capabilities of its full-size brother. The six-speed manual transmission for the base 3.7-liter V-6 has been dropped, leaving only a four-speed automatic for the six-cylinder engine and a five-speed automatic for the 4.7-liter V-8.
Getting into the Dakota is easy, and the interior is comfortable and convenient, with controls that are easy to reach and operate. The interior of the Crew Cab is spacious and can carry up to six people. A new under-seat storage system for Crew Cabs provides useful cargo carrying capacity.
The Dakota's interior is nicely appointed, including white-face electroluminescent gauges, extra storage options and heated seats, and the roomy cab is arguably quieter on the road than other compact trucks. The Dakota received new front and rear suspension components to improve ride quality and handling.
While the Dakota doesn’t offer a lot in the way of advanced features, the truck has a solid chassis and body structure. The Enhanced Accident Response System will turn on interior lights, unlock doors and shut off the fuel pump should the airbags deploy. It also earned five-star ratings for front-impact crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Laramie Crew Cab ($30,180) adds leather upholstery, premium 276-watt Alpine audio with MP3 capability and 6CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, automatic headlamps, remote starting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, body-color front bumper, and chrome bodyside moldings.
The Dodge Dakota stands alone among midsize pickups. Its large size and available rear seat storage system offer plenty of room and utility for a typical family, and its powerful V8 engine makes it quicker than most competitors. The availability of full-time four-wheel drive and towing capacity are other plusses that make the Dakota worth a look. If you want a pickup that's big enough, but not as big as a full-size, the Dodge Dakota is worth a look