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2009 Dodge Dakota

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starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown

Pickup Truck

Body style


Combined MPG


Seating capacity

218.8” x 68.7”


Rear-wheel drive



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

10 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2009 Dodge Dakota trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best Pickup Trucks for 2024

Notable features

  • 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 review: Our expert's take

By 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.

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 Research section. Email Mike Hanley

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.4
  • Interior 4.0
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value 4.1
  • Exterior 4.3
  • Reliability 4.8
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Most recent consumer reviews


The car condition was amazing

The car was so kept up in good condition it was a no brainer the interior was nice and clean as if it was brand new and it still had the new car smell. Great keeping


Ms.Trudi Hill

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.


Solid work truck. Excellent on the hiway.

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.

See all 7 consumer reviews


Based on the 2009 Dodge Dakota base trim.
Frontal driver
Frontal passenger
Nhtsa rollover rating
Side driver
Side rear passenger


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Dodge CPO Go
New car program benefits
36 months/36,000 miles
60 months/100,000 miles
-12 months/unlimited distance
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
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

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