Complete Dodge Dakota lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

2007 Dodge Dakota III (facelift 2007) - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions2007 - 2011 Dodge Dakota Pick-upDakota III (facelift 2007)8 Trims 214 to 238 Hp 2005 Dodge Dakota III - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions2005 - 2007 Dodge Dakota Pick-upDakota III8 Trims 214 to 238 Hp 1998 Dodge Dakota II - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1997 - 2005 Dodge Dakota Pick-upDakota II8 Trims 177 to 250 Hp 1988 Dodge Dakota - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1987 - 1996 Dodge Dakota Pick-upDakota9 Trims 96 to 230 Hp

Dodge Dakota Introduction

The Dodge Dakota is a mid-size pickup truck produced from 1987 to 2011 (sold as a Ram Dakota in its final year of 2011 due to the Ram division spinoff). Sized larger than the Ford Ranger and Chevy S-10, but smaller than full-size pickups, the Dakota fit into an unusual space for truck sizing and was the first mid-size truck with an available V-8. It was to have the drivability and fuel milage of the smaller trucks with the general usefulness of a full-size truck. The Dakota went through three different generations, used a wide variety of 4, 6, and 8 cylinder engines, and had both 2-door and 4-door options. The sales figured started off strong, hovering near 150,000 units for the first four model years (sometimes beating out the entire line of Dodge Ram trucks), and continued to receive praise for many years, especially as the V-8 options hit the market. As time went on, the Dodge Dakota dropped the manual V-8 option, it fell in popularity, and was only selling around 10,000 units for its final years before being discontinued in 2011. 

First Generation Dodge Dakota

The first release of the Dodge Dakota was available as a 112 or 124 inch wheelbase truck. It had similar options as the full-size truck with a 6.5 foot bed or 8 foot bed length (which could fit full 4x8 sheets of wood with the gate closed), and came in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive. Engine options included an inline-4 and V-6 paired with a 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission. It was the first American truck to use rack and pinion steering (in the two-wheel drive versions), and also featured an independent front suspension with coils in front and leaf rear. Higher payload and towing capacity gave the Dakota an edge over both the Chevy S-10 and Ford Ranger. Utilizing a transfer case that could be engaged on the fly, stopping to lock the front hubs was no longer necessary. The four-wheel drive version had additional steering upgrades, allowing it to claim superior handling compared to its rivals as well. With extensive corrosion protection, robotic welding, and stainless steel exhaust, the Dodge Dakota was a truck that Dodge stood behind and offered a 50,000 mile warranty. A specialized 1989 Dodge Dakota Shelby used a 175 horsepower 318 cu in V-8, two years before it would become an available option. It could do 0 to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, pretty good for a truck weighing 3,610 pounds and costing less than $16,000. Another 1989 addition was the convertible option with a basic roll bar and manual top. 1991 brought out the V-8 option to the masses and a slight modification to the front end with sealed beam headlights, which were replaced with rounded lights in 1992. The 1994 Dodge Dakota included a standard driver side airbag.

1997 Second Generation Redesign

As the full-size Dodge Ram turned toward a semi-truck inspired front end, the Dodge Dakota soon followed suit. With a larger look came the iconic Dodg/Ram crosshair grille, still around today. Engine options for the second generation included an inline-4, two V-6’s, and a powerful Magnum 5.9L V-8. The Dodge 45RFE automatic transmission was a weak point of these vehicles, especially when paired with the powerful V-8.

Third and Final Generation

In 2007, the Dodge Dakota received one more round of comprehensive redesign. The engine lineup was simplified, dropping the I-4 and sticking with a powerful V-6 or the Magnum V-8 with 260 horsepower. As the start of the problems, the Dakota V-8 option were no longer available with the manual transmission, leaving it to chew through the problematic automatic with the overpowered engine on a relatively light truck. The decline of the Dodge Dakota came shortly, and after being released under the Ram brand name for one year, it was discontinued entirely in 2011.