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STYLING | 7 out of 10
One of the tougher entries-in both power and looks
Car and Driver
Limited body style configurations
Controls are logically placed and readily accessible
The 2010 Dodge Dakota aims for a tough styling take on basic work trucks, and it succeeds-but it's a little institutional.
As a mid-size truck, the Dakota comes in two body lengths: extended and crew cab. "Dodge no longer offers a standard cab configuration for the Dakota," according to Edmunds. Cars.com calls it "the perfect size for many truck consumers; it's not too small or too big."
The Dakota wears the same angular look it's borne for the past decade, with the boxier shapes fitted to it in 2008. Cars.com notes that recent restyling leaves behind "hints of the Dodge Rampage concept truck," which gives the Dodge Dakota an "edgier" appearance than previous models. Car and Driver observes "the Dakota is one of the tougher entries-in both power and looks-in the compact pickup truck segment." Square-jawed even from the back, this latest Dodge truck bucked the usual trend and grew plainer and more cheap-looking when it was last revamped. Car and Driver seems to like the look, though, calling it "more fetching, more refined, and decidedly handsomer" than the previous model. TheCarConnection.com's editors say the Dakota's wide crosshair grille instantly telegraphs "Dodge" to truck buyers, and the flat panels and mid-size dimensions give it some of the big-boy stance of the larger, more lavish Ram trucks-as do the hulking fenders. There's a slight wing on the rear end for minor aerodynamic improvement, but it's the equivalent of an extra eyelash on the Ironman.
Humble on the outside, the Dakota is relentlessly Spartan inside, with a sea of black plastic pieces barely taking a commercial break to expose big, white-face gauges, an Eighties-vintage green-LCD audio display, and friendly, old-school climate-control knobs. Cars.com says the "squarish and utilitarian" styling helps make "truck guys...feel at home," but Car and Driver finds the "dreary gray atmosphere" is reminiscent of "Chrysler's recent interior atrocities," and thumbs its nose at the interior and at "lots of hard plastic" inside. ConsumerGuide, at least, gives the Dakota high marks for its controls, which are "logically placed and readily accessible," while the "large gauges are easy to read."
The 2010 Dodge Dakota squares itself handsomely against the soft-sided competition, but can't rise above its plastic-riddled cabin.