2005 Dodge Dakota
This 2005 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2007.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The revamped 2005 Dodge Dakota pickup truck has become nearly a full-size model that can do many full-size pickup jobs.
The Dakota launched the midsize pickup truck market when introduced in early 1986, Dodge still calls the new-generation Dakota a midsize pickup because it then can state that the truck has advantages over, say, the redesigned 2005 Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier compact pickups, which are larger and more powerful.
For instance, the Dakota has the only V8 in its class, whereas the new Tacoma and Frontier have 4- and 6-cylinder engines.
However, as with its predecessors, it's larger than compact pickups but not quite a full-size one. That generally made it a sales disappointment for years because most pickup buyers wanted either a small or large pickup.
The Dakota is one of few Dodge trucks with a HEMI V8, which wouldn't fit without expensive under-hood alterations, but it has strong conventional V8s. That's a good thing because it's too large and heavy for its standard 3.7-liter 210-horsepower V6 to provide anything but so-so performance outside town.
The V6 comes with either a six-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic, and the standard V8 works with either the manual or a 5-speed automatic. The high-output V8 comes only with the 5-speed automatic.
The V6 delivers an estimated 15-16 mpg in the city and 19-22 on highways, and the regular V8 provides 14-15 city and 19-20 highway. The high-output V8's figures are 14 and 18.
Towing capacity has been increased to 7,150 pounds from 6,500 pounds.
The Dakota is offered in ST, SLT and top-line Laramie trim levels. The six Club Cab extended-cab versions list for $19,510 to $27,325, while the six roomier Quad Cab crew cab models go from $20,910 to $28,815 for the Laramie 4-wheel-drive Quad Cab that I tested.
Extra Doors Added
The Club Cab has a 6-foot, 6-inch cargo bed, while the Quad Cab has a 5-foot, 4-inch bed.
The Dakota comes with rear-wheel drive, 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Both 4- and all-wheel-drive systems have low-range gearing for demanding off-road driving. The 4-wheel-drive system isn't for dry roads, but I tested the Dakota after a heavy snowfall and was happy to leave it engaged on slippery roads, where it provided good traction. Low-range gearing let it easily pull from snow banks.
There also is a stronger frame and stiffer construction for better ride and handling. Brakes have been upgraded, and there's a new suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, along with improved refinement and better sound deadening.
Also new are optional side-curtain airbags for all seats, standard Laramie automatic headlights, 6-speed manual gearbox instead of a 5-speed unit, stylish chrome-clad 17-inch wheels, optional Infinity speaker system and an extra-cost satellite digital audio radio system.
The redesigned, hushed interior has easily read gauges and climate controls. But it suffers from drab colors and too much hard shiny plastic.
The new Dakota's V8 availability gives it a competitive advantage, as do such things as its refinement and improved ride and handling.