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The Dakota had been over the years becoming increasingly closer in powertrains, features, and capability, to the full-size Ram pickups, but in recent years it's been reconfigured to be more of a basic truck. When it was last revamped for 2008, its interior got a little more Spartan and plasticky compared to the rest of the market, too.
There's not much reason to recommend the Dakota over the Ram 1500. Its base 210-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 is weak and thirsty, while the available 302-hp, 4.7-liter V-8 comes either with an outdated four-speed automatic transmission or very trucky six-speed manual. Handling, steering, and braking are just adequate.
For 2011, side-curtain airbags and four-wheel anti-lock brakes have finally been added to the standard-equipment list for all trims, and there are a couple of new exterior colors (Hunter Green Pearl Coat and Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat.
Pricing is perhaps the final nail. At prices that start at nearly $24k for a base 2011 Dakota up to a seemingly perverse $35k for a loaded Dakota Laramie, there's no good reason to choose it over the Ram 1500.
For more information pertaining to the 2011 Dakota, see our full review of the 2010 Dodge Dakota.