"Bigger, bolder and tougher." That's how Dodge described its Dakota pickup truck, as redesigned for 2005. A V-6 is standard, but the Dakota can be fitted with either of two V-8s, and Club Cab and Quad Cab models are offered. Dakotas are available with rear- or four-wheel drive in three trim levels: ST, SLT and Laramie.
For 2007, Dakotas get a standard two-position tailgate that can be locked at an angle to better carry cargo. Available YES Essentials fabric is designed to be stain-, odor- and static-resistant. A remote starter is newly optional.
Club Cab models have a 6.5-foot bed, while the Quad Cab gets a bed that measures 5 feet, 4 inches. Squared-off styling on the hood, grille and fender edges gives a distinctive look. Wheels are available in 16-, 17- and 18-inch sizes.
Quad Cab models can be configured for six-person seating rather than the usual five-person capacity. With the rear seats folded, Club Cab storage space totals 30 cubic feet, versus 37.1 cubic feet in the Quad Cab. Club Cab models have forward-facing rear seats and rear-hinged access doors.
Under the Hood
A 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 is standard. Stepping up a notch, the available 4.7-liter V-8 produces 230 hp and 290 pounds-feet of torque and can run on E85, regular unleaded gasoline or a mixture of the two. Topping the performance list is a high-output 4.7-liter V-8 that makes 260 hp. Transmission choices include a four-speed automatic, five-speed automatic and six-speed manual. Either a part-time or full-time four-wheel-drive transfer case is available.
Rear-wheel antilock braking is standard; four-wheel ABS is optional. Side curtain airbags that protect passengers in both rows of seats are optional.
A V-6 Dakota is overtaxed — short on power and sluggish for passing and merging. The V-8s are more suitable on grades. After only a slight delay at start-up, the V-8-equipped Dakota delivers a steady, satisfying stream of power. Automatic transmission shifts are a bit more noticeable than in the V-6 model, but they're seldom annoying.
Performance with the high-output engine isn't appreciably quicker than with a regular V-8. When pushed, its automatic transmission slams hard into the next gear. Dodge's manual gearbox is pickup-truck typical with its slightly mushy feel, but it works with a well-behaved, easy-engaging clutch.
Four-wheel-drive versions ride with pleasant smoothness on good pavement. The suspension reacts quickly to bumps and recovers promptly. On narrow two-lane roads, the Dakota maneuvers quite handily and with satisfying steering feel. Rear occupants in the Quad Cab sit with their knees up and have minimal foot room.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||September 1, 2006|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||September 15, 2006|
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