2009 Dodge Dakota

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$8,781–$18,025 Inventory Prices
(4.5) 6 reviews
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2009 Dodge Dakota. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • V-8 power and response
  • Available navigation
  • Sharp exterior styling, roomy cab interior
  • Segment-leading tow ratings
  • Dual-position tailgate
  • Alpine premium audio system

The Bad

  • No six-speed manual in offroad V-8 model
  • No regular cab
  • Quality of interior materials better, but doesn't impress
  • Limited safety features

Notable Features of the 2009 Dodge Dakota

  • Big Horn/Lone Star models replace SLT trim line
  • SLT, Sport and TRX 4x2 models dropped
  • Crate' N Go collapsible storage system standard on Big Horn/Lone Star models
  • Tilt steering standard on base ST model
  • Premium cloth bucket seats standard on Laramie
  • Premium bolstered bucket seats standard on TRX4

2009 Dodge Dakota Road Test

Mike Hanley
Editor's note: This review was written in November 2007 about the 2008 Dodge Dakota. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2009, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

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.

Styling
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, a...

Editor's note: This review was written in November 2007 about the 2008 Dodge Dakota. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2009, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

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.

Styling
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.

Safety
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).

Features
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.

Send Mike an email 



Latest 2009 Dakota Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.3)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(3.8)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.0)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Ms.Trudi Hill

by Trudi69 from Abilene on April 8, 2018

I want a purple one with black Interia and gold trim extended cab with CD radio I love it.would like no power windows roll up with a handle. Read full review

(5.0)

Solid work truck. Excellent on the hiway.

by Tom from 49417 on March 30, 2018

Love the styling. Solid truck with plenty of power. Cruises nice on the highway. Looks great! Very nice interior controls. Solid body. Well built vehicle. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2009 Dodge Dakota currently has 0 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2009 Dodge Dakota has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    unlimietd months / unlimited distance

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Dodge

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, Carfax vehicle history report, rental car and 24-hour towing, and first day rental

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7 years/100,000 mile warranty on all certified vehicles
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 125 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Dakota received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker