2010 Dodge Dakota Review

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 5, 2010

The 2010 Dodge Dakota could be a fine full-size pickup alternative, but its lack of standard safety gear, sloppy handling, and low-grade fit and finish knock it out of contention.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the newest Dodge Dakota and have written this review from firsthand driving impressions. Editors have compared the Dakota to other mid-size pickups to help you narrow your shopping list. TCC's team also has compiled a full review that condenses opinions from around the Web into the most useful guide to the Dodge Dakota on the Web.

The 2010 Dodge Dakota is a survivor. In 2009, the Chrysler Group filed for bankruptcy, and few expected the aging Dakota to make it through the proceedings. It's still here-for a couple more years, at least. The Dakota returns mostly unchanged from 2009, after a thorough revamp in 2008. It's offered with extended and crew cab configurations, with a choice of six- or eight-cylinder engines, manual or automatic transmissions, and rear- or four-wheel drive. With a base price of $22,755, the Dakota is a good deal larger than the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins and the aged Ford Ranger. It competes more directly with the Nissan Frontier, the Toyota Tacoma, and the Honda Ridgeline. Some versions overlap full-size pickups with price tags above $33,000.

The 2010 Dodge Dakota aims for a tough styling take on basic work trucks, and it succeeds-but it's a little institutional. The Dakota wears the same angular look it's borne for the past decade, with the boxier shapes fitted to it in 2008. 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. The wide crosshair grille instantly telegraphs "Dodge" to truck buyers, and the Dakota's 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.

Review continues below

The 2010 Dakota performs acceptably, with more power than poise. It's one of just two mid-size pickups that can be ordered with a V-8 engine (GM sells the other), and as such it's a rare breed. Other than price, in fact, there's almost no reason to stick with the standard 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6. It's rumbly and a little weak on the uptake and doesn't have any fuel-efficiency edge on the optional 302-hp, 4.7-liter V-8. The six-cylinder engine comes with either an outdated four-speed automatic or a trucky six-speed manual transmission, while the V-8 teams up with a well-sorted five-speed automatic. With either engine and any transmission, the rear-drive editions of the 2010 Dakota scores 15/20 mpg EPA gas-mileage numbers, regardless of body style. Four-wheel-drive Dakotas slip further behind the competition at 14/18 mpg-mostly because both the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier still offer four-cylinder engines. Handling is perhaps a bit better than you would expect, thanks to a quick-ratio rack-and-pinion steering setup, but the suspension is prone to excessive floating. However, given the truck's weight (more than 4,500 pounds), you can't expect it to handle like a sports sedan. The brakes are adequate discs and drums.

The 2010 Dodge Dakota feels like a full-size pickup, though with a wheelbase of 131.3 inches, it's still a notch smaller than the true Rams and Titans of the realm. There's a two-passenger Extended Cab, with a comfortable pair of front seats, a small cargo area behind them accessible through rear access doors, and an optional and uncomfortable jump seat for five-person emergencies. There's also a six-passenger Crew Cab with four doors and two rows of seats. The Crew Cab's rear seats fold up to create storage space, a helpful option since the seats themselves have nearly vertical backrests and aren't comfortable for more than an hour of driving. Upgraded seats are fitted to the top two Dakota models. The best features of the Dakota's cab are the Crate 'N Go system, which features custom removable containers that fit under the rear seat, allowing gear to be organized and contained within the truck without rolling around, and a useful and space-efficient center console, which incorporates cup holders with modular inserts and a pull-out bin specifically designed to hold electronics such as an MP3 player (which may be plugged into any of the Dodge Dakota's audio systems), cell phone, or PDA. In back, the Dakota offers a 6.6-foot bed on extended cab trucks and a 5.3-foot bed on the Crew Cab, and both have built-in utility rails. Quality should be closely inspected by prospective buyers; the Dakota's fit and finish improved in 2008, but the interior feels low-grade, and the Dakota's repair history has been spotty.

The 2010 Dakota fails to improve on one of the worst safety scores handed out by TheCarConnection.com. The Dakota performs well in crash tests done at NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), earning five-star ratings for front and side impact protection. The insurance industry-funded IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), though, puts the Dakota's performance on extended-cab trucks at only "acceptable" for frontal impacts, and doesn't rate its side-impact performance. Crew Cab Dakotas earn a "good" rating for frontal impact protection, but only a "marginal" rating for side impacts. The scores are low-and the base Dakota omits many safety features found on almost every other new vehicle sold in America. The base Dakota has dual front airbags and rear-wheel anti-lock brakes-but no four-wheel anti-lock braking, no side airbags, and no curtain airbags, even at its $22,000 base price.

Standard features on the 2010 Dodge Dakota are few at the low end of the price spectrum, but the expensive versions fare better than most mid-size trucks. Base 2010 Dakota pickups have cloth upholstery; air conditioning; a CD player; cargo-bed utility rails; and on Crew Cabs, split-folding 60/40 rear seats. Higher trim levels add on standard cruise control; off-road trim; automatic headlamps; leather seating; and premium audio with Sirius service. A navigation system with a music hard drive, dubbed MyGIG, is an option on some Dakotas, as are real-time traffic, an iPod adapter, and Bluetooth connectivity.

7

2010 Dodge Dakota

Styling

The 2010 Dodge Dakota squares itself handsomely against the soft-sided competition, but can't rise above its plastic-riddled cabin.

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."

Review continues below
7

2010 Dodge Dakota

Performance

The 2010 Dodge Dakota summons V-8 power well, but floaty handling and average braking don't lend much driving confidence.

The 2010 Dakota performs acceptably, with more power than poise.

It's one of just two mid-size pickups that can be ordered with a V-8 engine (GM sells the other), and other than price, there's almost no reason to stick with the standard V-6 engine. The base six-cylinder feels rumbly, a little weak on the uptake, and doesn't have enough fuel-efficiency edge over the optional V-8, reviewers note. ConsumerGuide claims the V-8 delivers good power for town driving and adequate performance for passing maneuvers at speed. It also believes the V-6 is severely underpowered, relegating it to daily commuting and light hauling duties. The Dakota, when properly equipped, has a maximum towing capacity of 7,050 pounds, putting it near the top of the class, Cars.com reports.

The six-cylinder engine comes with either an outdated four-speed automatic or a trucky six-speed manual transmission, while the V-8 teams up with a well-sorted five-speed automatic. Edmunds says "the V6 is coupled to a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, while the V8 drives through a modern five-speed automatic." Cars.com feels the "the V-6 and manual transmission make a nice pair in the Dakota," and despite the "longish throws," the clutch "engages smoothly and is quickly mastered."

With either engine and any transmission, the rear-drive editions of the 2010 Dakota scores 15/20 mpg EPA gas-mileage numbers, regardless of body style. Four-wheel-drive Dakotas slip further behind the competition at 14/18 mpg-mostly because both the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier still offer four-cylinder engines.

A quick rack-and-pinion steering system gives the Dakota handling characteristics you might not expect from a pickup tipping the scales at more than 4,500 pounds. Cars.com reports it requires litte effort to drive thanks to the boosted steering setup, but it lacks feedback. Chassis revisions have made the Dakota quite plush in the ride department, almost floaty, says Car and Driver, and turn-in response is effected in step. ConsumerGuide knocks the Dakota for body roll, but praises its smooth and composed ride. Front disc and read drum brakes leave much to be desired, says Car and Driver.

Review continues below
7

2010 Dodge Dakota

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Dodge Dakota has a roomy, flexible cab-but the short bed and low-grade materials are major compromises to its utility and quality.

The 2010 Dodge Dakota feels like a full-size pickup, though with a wheelbase of 131.3 inches, it's still a notch smaller than the true Rams and Titans of the realm.

There's a two-passenger Extended Cab, with a comfortable pair of front seats, a small cargo area behind them accessible through rear access doors, and an optional and uncomfortable jump seat for five-person emergencies. There's also a six-passenger Crew Cab with four doors and two rows of seats. The Crew Cab's rear seats fold up to create storage space, a helpful option since the seats themselves have nearly vertical backrests and aren't comfortable for more than an hour of driving. Upgraded seats are fitted to the top two Dakota models. Edmunds reports you'll want the bigger cab if you regularly carry around more than four adults. ConsumerGuide agrees, stating head and legroom are merely adequate in the rear for adults under 6-feet tall; those over will crave more legroom.

One of the best features of the Dakota's cab is the Crate 'N Go system, which comes with custom removable containers that fit under the rear seat, allowing gear to be organized and contained within the truck without rolling around. Additionally, a space-efficient center console incorporates cup holders with modular inserts and a pull-out bin designed to hold MP3 players (which may be plugged into any of the Dodge Dakota's audio systems), cell phones, or PDAs. Edmunds reviewers love new storage bin perfect for storing electronics. Meanwhile, MyRide.com notes the truck offers lots of storage bins and cubbies throughout.

In back, the Dakota offers a 6.6-foot bed on extended cab trucks and a 5.3-foot bed on the Crew Cab, and both have built-in utility rails. Utility is diminished somewhat, warns Edmunds, since "Dodge offers neither a longer bed length nor a factory bed extender."

Quality should be closely inspected by prospective buyers; the Dakota's fit and finish improved in 2008, but the interior feels low-grade, and the Dakota's repair history has been spotty. ConsumerGuide observes "interior materials look and feel budget grade," and notes "hard, shiny plastic covers most surfaces." Car and Driver disparages the "hard plastic inside the cabin," while Edmunds asserts that "quality remains unimpressive when compared to the segment leaders." Still, Dodge turns down the volume inside the Dakota's cabin. Cars.com says "the roomy cab is arguably quieter on the road than other compact trucks," and ConsumerGuide reports "road noise is impressively hushed."

Review continues below
5

2010 Dodge Dakota

Safety

The 2010 Dodge Dakota has one of the worst safety ratings of any vehicle tested by TheCarConnection.com, with low crash-test scores and spotty safety equipment.

The 2010 Dakota fails to improve on one of the worst safety scores handed out by TheCarConnection.com.

The Dakota performs well in crash tests done at NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), earning five-star ratings for front and side impact protection. The insurance industry-funded IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), though, puts the Dakota's performance on extended-cab trucks at only "acceptable" for frontal impacts and doesn't rate its side-impact performance. Crew Cab Dakotas earn a "good" rating for frontal impact protection, but only a "marginal" rating for side impacts.

The scores are low-and the base Dakota omits many safety features found on almost every other new vehicle sold in America. The base Dakota has dual front airbags and rear-wheel anti-lock brakes-but no four-wheel anti-lock braking, no side airbags, and no curtain airbags, even at its $22,000 base price. Cars.com finds the Dakota lags behind competitors in offering advanced features, while knocking Dodge for not including four-wheel anti-lock brakes and side curtain airbags as standard equipment and not options. Yes, rear anti-lock brakes are standard, points out Edmunds, but Cars.com warns no Dakota can be fitted with electronic stability control as it isn't even an option.

The view out from the Dakota's cabin is good. J.D. Power says with "the driver sitting high" in the front seat, the Dodge pickup offers "good outward visibility."

Review continues below
8

2010 Dodge Dakota

Features

With Bluetooth, navigation, and satellite radio, the 2010 Dodge Dakota offers more entertaining features than most mid-size trucks.

Standard features on the 2010 Dodge Dakota are few at the low end of the price spectrum, but the expensive versions fare better than most mid-size trucks.

Base 2010 Dakota pickups have cloth upholstery; air conditioning; a CD player; cargo-bed utility rails; and on Crew Cabs, split-folding 60/40 rear seats. Higher trim levels add on standard cruise control; off-road trim; automatic headlamps; leather seating; and premium audio with Sirius service.

A navigation system with a music hard drive, dubbed MyGIG, is an option on some Dakotas, as are real-time traffic, an iPod adapter, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
USED PRICE RANGE
$7,500 - $22,000
Browse Used Listings
in your area
6.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 5
Features 8
Fuel Economy N/A
Compare the 2010 Dodge Dakota against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Dodge Dakota?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used