The Dodge Dakota is a midsize pickup truck that was introduced in 1987. The Dakota was sold alongside the larger Dodge Ram 1500 and is credited with introducing a larger footprint at a time when the truck segment was dominated by compact models.
Dodge Dakota Overview
The first-generation Dodge Dakota was built from 1987 to 1996. The second-generation Dakota made its debut in 1997. Regular and extended cab choices were offered, which came with a 6-foot-6-inch bed.
A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission were standard, and paired with rear-wheel drive. A 3.9-liter V6 and a 5.2-liter V8 were optional, and available with rear- or four-wheel drive. Both engine options can be had with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.
Beginning in 1998, Dodge introduced a 5.9-liter V8 that was paired exclusively with the automatic transmission. For 2000, a 4.7-liter V8 replaced the 5.2-liter V8, and a crew cab model with a 5-foot-3-inch bed was introduced. The four-cylinder engine was dropped for 2003, with the 3.9-liter V6 taking its place as the Dakota’s base engine.
The third-generation Dodge Dakota was introduced for 2005 and was sold through 2010. It was renamed the Ram Dakota for 2011, then canceled after one year. A Mitsubishi Raider variant was sold from 2006 to 2009.
Upon its 2005 release, the third-generation Dakota offered extended cab (Club Cab) and crew cab (Quad Cab) configurations, providing room for up to five people. No regular cab version was offered. A 5-foot-4-inch bed and a 6-foot-6-inch bed were available.
The Dakota’s standard engine is a 3.7-liter V6 that comes with a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. A 4.7-liter V8 engine was also available and paired with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. The V8 was offered in standard and high output versions, with the latter offering a 10 percent boost in overall performance.
Key attributes of the third-generation Dakota include its comfortable interior, controlled handling and best-in-class towing.
For 2006, Dodge made a sunroof available and upgraded the audio system to include an auxiliary input jack. Dodge also reworked the rear doors on the Club Cab model to pivot nearly 180 degrees.
In 2007, the Dakota’s changes included the addition of a dual-position tailgate as standard equipment. Optional remote start and upgraded seat fabric were also rolled out.
The 2008 Dakota received a redesigned instrument panel, an available updated navigation system and optional heated front seats. Dodge also added more storage compartments, refreshed the front fascia and included integral cargo box utility rails.
For 2010, Dodge retuned the Dakota’s suspension for improved handling and dropped the manual transmission from the lineup.
In its last year of production, this truck transitioned to the Ram brand where it was sold as the 2011 Ram Dakota. New standard safety features were rolled out, including antilock brakes and side curtain air bags. The truck’s navigation system was also discontinued in its final model year.
The Dodge Dakota can be considered alongside other midsize trucks, including the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline.