2008 Dodge Dakota

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starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown

Pickup Truck

Body style


Seating capacity

218.8” x 68.7”


Rear-wheel drive



The good:

  • V-6 with manual transmission
  • Brake pedal feel
  • Stylish shape
  • 7,050-pound max. towing capacity (when properly equipped)

The bad:

  • Slight cab shudder on rough roads
  • Wind noise on highway
  • Impractical rear seats (extended cab)
  • V-6 gas mileage

17 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2008 Dodge Dakota trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best Pickup Trucks for 2024

Notable features

  • Updated for 2008
  • Extended or crew cab body styles
  • Optional V-8 gains 42 hp
  • Available Full Swing rear doors (extended cab)

2008 Dodge Dakota review: Our expert's take

By Mike Hanley

The Dodge Dakota of the late ’90s was one of the early midsize pickup trucks on the market. It was ahead of its time in that regard, as most other once-small pickups have since grown to match the Dakota’s size.

Dodge’s revisions to the Dakota for 2008 fall short of a full redesign, but the changes do add a little life to the truck (see a side-by-side comparison with the 2007 model). While its updated styling should enhance its appeal, and its base engine delivers acceptable performance, the Dakota’s stiff ride may be an unappreciated surprise to first-time truck buyers.

The Dakota’s overall shape is largely the same as it was before, but the front is more streamlined thanks to a new hood, headlights and fenders. It also manages to be more aggressive than the previous design’s wide-eyed look, which is always good in the truck market. An oversized version of Dodge’s crosshair grille dominates the front. The overall appearance is less about toughness and more about street style. The optional 18-inch chrome wheels help in this regard.

Ride & Handling
This won’t surprise anyone, but the Dakota’s forte isn’t in the ride and handling department. It can get jostling at times, and there’s some slight cab shudder on rough roads, but overall it’s not excessive for a truck.

The Dakota steers with light effort thanks to the highly boosted steering system. There’s not much feedback from the wheel, but it’s easy to hold your line on the highway.

Going & Stopping
The standard engine is a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 that produces 235 pounds-feet of torque. The Dakota is one of the few midsize trucks that offer V-8 power, and that V-8 gains 42 hp over the strongest version offered last year; it now has 302 hp and 329 pounds-feet of torque. V-6 Dakotas can have either a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, but the V-8 is only available with a five-speed automatic. I tested a V-6 truck with the six-speed manual and four-wheel drive.

The V-6 and manual transmission make a nice pair in the Dakota. The V-6 provides decent power, and I didn’t find myself longing for the V-8 (I didn’t, however, haul a heavy load or trailer with the truck, which is when the extra grunt of a V-8 tends to shine). Over the course of one 20-mile drive that featured stop-and-go, highway and suburban driving, the truck averaged 16 mpg. At 70 mph, wind noise is a problem in this truck.

The six-speed manual has longish throws, and it requires a decent amount of effort to shift from gear to gear; it kind of feels like you’re moving a broomstick around in a bucket of cement. Though clutch pedal effort is rather heavy, it engages smoothly and is quickly mastered.

An antilock feature for the rear drum brakes is standard; ABS for all the wheels is optional. When stopping, the driver enjoys natural brake pedal effort that’s very progressive. Well done, Dodge.

The Inside
My wife thought the cabin had a cheap appearance, though some might call it utilitarian. The dash is made of hard plastic, but it does have nice graining, and there’s a cubby on the passenger side of the dashboard for odds and ends. Other interior finishes are good in some respects, like the plastic trim on the A-pillar, and unremarkable in others, like the fuzzy headliner. Inexplicably, there’s no vanity mirror for the driver even though the front passenger gets one.

The manual air conditioning and stereo systems feature large knobs and buttons that should be well-suited for work-gloved hands. Storage spaces include large door pockets.

Two front-seat configurations are offered: bucket seats or a three-place bench that includes a flip-down center armrest. The split-bench seat provides good comfort. Upholstery choices include cloth, stain-resistant fabric and leather.

The extended cab Dakota has two small rear seats, but they’re only suitable for small children; our 5-foot-1 colleague climbed back there to test them out and reported that she didn’t have much room. The space is better used for storage, and the rear seats’ bottom cushions flip up easily to make space for belongings you need to store inside the cab. If you want to carry more than a couple full-size adults in this truck, including the driver, you’ll have to opt for a crew cab version.

Side curtain airbags are optional, and seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the front seats are not offered. A tire pressure monitoring system is standard. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s frontal-offset crash test, the Dakota received an Acceptable rating, the second-highest score.

Cargo & Towing
Extended cab trucks come with a 6.4-foot cargo box, while the crew cab’s is about a foot shorter. The tailgate is a little heavy to close, and the bed is 17.6-inches deep, which is about the depth of the beds on competitors like the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.

An optional utility-rail system includes cleats that can lock onto rails anywhere along the cargo box’s side walls. It’s not as advanced as the three-rail system Chevrolet offers for the Silverado, which has an additional rail along the front wall and cleats that have a quick-release pin lock; Dodge’s need to be screwed down using a knob.

Where the Dakota shines compared to its competition is in towing capacity; when properly equipped, a V-8 Dakota can tow up to 7,050 pounds, which easily surpasses the maximum trailer weights of the Frontier (6,500 pounds), Tacoma (6,500 pounds) and Ridgeline (5,000 pounds).

Extended cab Dakotas can have optional Full Swing rear-hinged half doors that open 170 degrees, making it easier to access the rear portion of the cabin in tight spaces.

Like other Chrysler products, the Dakota is available with the MyGIG entertainment and navigation system. MyGIG features a 20GB hard drive that can store songs uploaded from a CD or USB flash drive. The system can also display uploaded photos and play DVDs. When available, Sirius Satellite Radio can provide traffic information.

Dakota in the Market
With models like the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma having grown in size over the years, and new trucks like the Honda Ridgeline hitting the scene, the Dakota no longer has the midsize truck segment all to itself. However, when you consider that recreational buyers who purchase midsize trucks are sensitive to gas-price swings and most consumers who need a truck choose full-size models, midsize trucks in general appear to be left searching for buyers in today’s market.

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Photo of Mike Hanley
Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Cars.com Research section. Email Mike Hanley

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior 4.4
  • Performance 4.3
  • Value 4.5
  • Exterior 4.6
  • Reliability 4.5
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Most recent consumer reviews


Best small truck.

I have owned three different Dakotas. All three of them we're extremely reliable and The Styling can't be beat. My 2001 had the 4.7 engine and it was a beast. My 2008 Dakota is absolutely beautiful. It has the 3.7 liter engine, which seems to do pretty good.


Most reliable car I never owend

It's great for a truck I never been in I have a 98 Or seen so did I win the 3 hounded dollar prize yet.


I have had my Dakota for over fifteen years now a.

The Dakota has exceeded my expectations in more ways than one. This is the reason I'm in search of my next Dakota I aware that this truck is discontinue but I don't want to give up just yet!!! Please help me find another Dakota.

See all 26 consumer reviews


Based on the 2008 Dodge Dakota base trim.
Frontal driver
Frontal passenger
Nhtsa rollover rating
Side driver


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Dodge CPO Go
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
6-10 MY and/or 75,001-120,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
3 Month 3,000 mile Max Care Warranty
Dealer certification required
125 point inspection
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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