The bold, aggressive Dodge Dakota returns for the 2009 model year sporting the same restyled exterior and upgraded interior, though the internals still draw criticism in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com.
The 2009 Dodge Dakota is a mid-size pickup that Cars.com calls "the perfect size for many truck consumers; it's not too small or too big." It also comes in four trim levels, according to ConsumerGuide, which comprise "base ST, mid-level Big Horn (Lone Star in Texas), off-road-ready TRX4, and top-end Laramie." Despite its mid-size marketing, the Dodge Dakota "looks nearly as big and tough as the full-size Dodge Ram," which is probably due to the fact that "it's the biggest pickup in the midsize class," as Automotive.com points out. Another explanation for the 2009 Dodge Dakota's bulked-up overall appearance is that "Dodge no longer offers a standard cab configuration for the Dakota," according to Edmunds, instead presenting only extended and crew cab models.
Comparing the 2007 and 2009 versions of the Dodge Dakota, Automotive.com notices that, on the latter, "the hood, grille, front fascia, headlights, fenders and rear spoiler have been modified," and "built-in cargo box utility rails have been added." The exterior improvements are welcome, as Car and Driver claims that "the Dakota is one of the tougher entries—in both power and looks—in the compact pickup truck segment." Cars.com notes that the restyling has "hints of the Dodge Rampage concept truck," which gives the Dodge Dakota an "edgier" appearance than previous models. Car and Driver reviewers approve of the change, calling the 2009 Dodge Dakota's face "more fetching, more refined, and decidedly handsomer" than the previous model's.
Interior styling changes are definitely appreciated by reviewers, but this Dodge Dakota still can't compare with the latest imports in this regard. Car and Driver is disappointed to find "lots of hard plastic" dominating the interior, although ConsumerGuide gives the 2009 Dodge Dakota high marks for its controls, which are "logically placed and readily accessible," while the "large gauges are easy to read." Car and Driver is quick to point out some flaws, most notably that the "dreary gray atmosphere" is reminiscent of "Chrysler's recent interior atrocities," but moderating that criticism is the opinion of reviewers at Cars.com, who claim the "squarish and utilitarian" styling helps make "truck guys...feel at home."