Overview & Reviews
It wasn't until the late 1980s that Dodge got serious about competing in the compact pickup market. Instead of building another bite-size truck to scrabble for sales against strong-selling imports, the company created the Dodge Dakota, the first-ever midsize pickup truck. Size has long been the Dakota's chief advantage over the competition, as it slots neatly between cramped compacts and hulking full-size trucks. When Dodge introduced the Dakota Quad Cab in 2000, it was the first relatively small crew cab to offer truly comfortable seating for four adults.
In addition to its in-between size, the Dodge Dakota has tended to ride smoothly and handle predictably on the road. The Dakota was also the first smaller pickup to receive a V8. However, with leading import brands getting comparable performance out of their more fuel-efficient V6s, the latest-generation Dakota was at a competitive disadvantage. Due to slow sales, Dodge discontinued the Dakota after the 2011 model year. A replacement is rumored to be in the works, however.
Most Recent Dodge Dakota
The third-generation Dodge Dakota was produced from 2005-'11. For that last year, however, it was officially renamed Ram Dakota. Trim level names varied throughout the truck's run, but the main ones were ST, STX, Sport, Laramie and TRX. There were also special models offered such as LoneStar and BigHorn.
Initially, the Dakota featured a 210-horsepower V6 or an optional 4.7-liter V8 good for 230 hp. A six-speed manual transmission was standard, while the V6 could be equipped with a four-speed automatic and the V8 with a five-speed auto. A 260-hp high-output version of the V8 joined the show for 2006. The 4.7-liter V8 got a considerable power bump to 302 hp in 2008.
Freshened styling also debuted that year, as did a redesigned instrument panel, additional storage compartments and an optional MyGIG multimedia system including a hard-drive-based navigation system. The manual transmission was discontinued for 2010, while the navigation system was killed off a year later, along with the TRX4 off-road model. On the plus side, antilock brakes and side curtain airbags were made standard on all Dakotas. With earlier models, these were included in the optional Safety Group.
As expected, the Dakota was available with two-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive; however, on high-line models you could get a full-time 4WD system -- an unusual feature in this class. There was no regular cab configuration, so buyers had their choice of an extended cab (known as the Club Cab) or crew cab (Quad Cab). The Quad Cab is the way to go if your truck will serve as a family vehicle, but unfortunately, it had a short 5-foot 4-inch bed, and Dodge offered neither a longer bed length nor a factory bed extender. Club Cabs had 6-foot 6-inch beds.
In road tests and reviews we found that the third-generation Dakota was one of the better candidates for daily commuter duty in the compact and midsize pickup segment. It boasted comfortable seating, abundant storage and simple controls. When equipped with the V8 engine, power was ample. Downsides to this midsize truck included low-quality interior materials, lackluster fuel economy and a harsh ride quality.
Past Dodge Dakota Models
The second-generation Dodge Dakota (1997-2004) features virtually all the strengths of the more recent truck. Spotty reliability is the one downside. Only standard and extended cabs were available from 1997-'99. In addition to the Quad Cab's arrival in 2000, a more potent 4.7-liter V8 joined the lineup that year, replacing the old-tech 5.2-liter V8. If you want a six-cylinder Dakota, 2004 is the best year, as the more powerful 3.7-liter V6 pre-empted the aged 3.9-liter V6.
Performance buffs will want to consider the Dakota R/T, a bona fide sport truck sold in regular cab and Club Cab versions from 1998-2003. Unlike the R/T from the third generation, which was little more than a cosmetic package, this Dodge truck had its own engine, a torquey but thirsty 5.9-liter V8 rated for 250 hp and 345 pound-feet of torque, and a sport-tuned suspension.
The original Dodge Dakota, on sale from 1987-'96, was also a solid truck for its time, but the ones you're likely to run across on the used market are likely to be well-worn. It's best to confine your search to the 1992-'96 model years; In '92, Dodge introduced a new family of V6 and V8 engines, bringing a much-needed increase in performance and refinement.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 1,068.00
Never a Dodge or Chrysler again! - 2006 Dodge Dakota
By David Bowen - April 19 - 9:45 pm
I bought a 2006 Dakota several years ago . It only had 65,000km on it Cost me almost $17,000. To date Ive spent close to $8000 in repairs. I now have a problem that the dealership cant diagnose. Operating cost of this vehicle (not including gas or insurance) averages aprox. $2.69/km. Imagine a100km trip costing you $269.00 and you havent even factored in the gas or insurance to drive it. I will never buy another Dodge or Chrysler product.
99 Dodge Dakota - 1999 Dodge Dakota
By Tay Steen - October 12 - 8:52 pm
I have a 1999 Dodge Dakota with the 3.9 I will admit it is not the fastest or most powerful but 6 out of 7 days a week I haul stuff with it and I do leave the pavement with the truck and it does every thing I ask of it very reliable truck.
2005 Dodge Dakota SLT Quad Cab 4WD (3.7L) - 2005 Dodge Dakota
By Bill Smith - December 8 - 10:42 am
I have owned this truck for 5 years now. Picked it up used threw brand new set of michelins on it and was set. I like the truck due to the high feeling in the truck even though its not. I got the 6 Cylinder not expecting good performance and better gas mileage. The 4WD works terrific and the motor is in great shape. One thing i have noticed with these dakotas is the right rear fender rusts. The only money i have put into the truck is oil changes, brakes, sound system, and gas. i enjoy the truck like you would want to. Now to the negative side. The trans has started to act up like a year ago. It slips every now and then but is not bad atleast yet. 6 months ago i put this substance to help the trans and i havent felt it slip yet. I dont have a v8 but my point of view if your going for a v8 just get the full size. i can still tow my trailer and have tools in the back. Now it would be nice if i could get the long bed. I may have a long bed fabricated in. Ive seen a review complaining about gas mileage. What do you expect with a v8?
Dakota Quad Cab 2002 (oldie but goodie) - 2002 Dodge Dakota
By Rick T - November 19 - 8:59 pm
I bought my truck brand new back in 2002. I looked at other trucks including the F150, but it would not fit in the garage. The Dakota is smaller but has the V-8 (4.7) that can handle most anything. Its a great truck and I have had very little problems.
Overall Decent Car - 1998 Dodge Dakota
By Brian - October 16 - 12:46 pm
Owned my pickup since 2009. Overall pleased, enough to keep it anyway. It will go a few years without needing any major repairs, and then several things will need work in short order. Ive replaced fuel pump, exhaust system, distributor cap and associated parts, window wash pump, and brakes twice. So not bad, but then I have a load of small problems: check engine lights been on since 2010 (I was told its due to a minor transmission issue that might cost a lot to fix with minor payoff), the ABS and emergency brake lights come on when I take a highway ramp (but no effect on driving or braking), the ceiling lining started to come loose two years ago, rust is bubbling the paint over the left rear wheel well (seems to be common for this model year), and most annoying of all, the springs supporting the drivers seat broke loose of their moorings which causes the seat to sag and the metal frame parts to poke me uncomfortably. And there doesnt seem to be an easy way to repair the seat and its attached to the passenger seat & center console which will make replacement a major hassle. On the other hand, I think it handles great, the brakes do not disappoint, the engine is fairly quiet and smooth, and Ive driven it on several road-trips from 3,000 to 5,000 miles at a time without complaint. It has a light rear end, which can be a danger in rain or snow. Ive found that tires with good traction will overcome handling problems in the rain, but if you live where it snows much, I would recommend 4WD. Basically, if you need a no-frills reliable vehicle and dont mind minor problems that crop up but wont interfere with driving function, you will likely find this truck to be acceptable.
2006 dodge doakta st - 2006 Dodge Dakota
By Jeff - September 28 - 6:32 am
I have 189,000 on my truck, its an ok truck over all, the tranny went at 170,000 and the pcm went at 180,000 other than that its an ok truck. It has the v6 3.7l And lacks power, exspcally when going up hills, its good for long drives due to the comfort, rides like a car, overall its a good truck.
The Best 15 year old truck you can buy - 2000 Dodge Dakota
By firstname.lastname@example.org - September 2 - 12:28 pm
This review is specific to the 4.7l v-8 in the extended cab base truck. First off the engine is absolutely bulletproof. I bought it with 62k miles in 2005, now 10 years later i have 170k miles and it still runs/drives so smoothly. Aside from tires and oil changes the only parts ive had to replace are driver side tie rod end, water pump, number 7 fuel injector, and the two trans sensors that measure output speed (i think, they are side by side). all told most of labor i did my self but ive spent about 700.00 in the life of the truck. The only issue I have not looked into is the a/c, it has been out for about 3 years, not sure the cause but its not simply freon. This truck has taken 5 grown men from birmingham to ohio and illinois 4 times while pulling a large trailer. Its taken the same group numerous times to new orleans, tampa and south carolina. All I can say is it is still extremely reliable and if you have the opportunity to get a dakota with the 4.7, please do yourself a favor and jump on the opportunity. My wife is always asking when im going to buy a new truck and trade mine in (the paint is looking rough lol). I explain that I plan on my son who is 18 months, to drive it for is first car. I have all the confidence in the world, that with good maintenance and decent driving the truck will easily last another 15 years.
owned MANY TRUCKS OVER 30 YEARS - 2001 Dodge Dakota
By john damphier sr - August 26 - 9:20 am
I own an excavating company,i have a 2011 chevy 2500 hd 4x4 ect cab 9.3 boss plow.ltz, I use it for towing my 22ft skeeter bass boat and plowing,i bought this 01 Dakoda ext cab 4x4 auto with 4,7 v8 355 gears to run around and give prices on jobs, other than typicle dodge rust on fender wells,[witch I painted over] I completely undercoated, change oil to 10w-40 high mile valvaline, and applyied for 225,000 mile engine warrenty,fram filter, I cleaned air cleaner,degreased engine, put synthetic gear oil in, rear end and front diff, the interior looks new, I bought it with 111.361 miles,now has 114.940,i get 18 hwy,14 city,and on a long trip I got 19mpg @ 70 mph,the 4,7 has plenty of power.i did tow terex 60 skid steer,i had no problems, thats about 6600 pounds with trailor,you HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THEM,i love this truck and so does my labs,i plan on putting on a lot of miles,and I keep every thing stock,it looks sharp in black,i have an 2011 chevy 2500hd with 6.0 but dont like it on job sites,but towed 16,000 lbs, john deere 60 excavator and trailor, never had an issue.but thats my pride and joy,im sponser by skeeter bass boats and use it for that, I hope the dakota holds up,love the seats,and it does ride like a truck, tires are like new,42psi on all 4,i always bought new,but for a work 4x4 I didnt want spend 40k, I think I got a good deal, I bought from a dealer friend,1-owner trade, I paid 4800,truckprices in upstate ny are very high,so this was a steal,i seen 200kgofor 7k and 98-99 1500 chevy with over 200k-300k want 5k to 10 k,has bed liner and factory trailor tow,full power windows,locks,power seat, sliding glass,he put new brakes and rotors on for me,and wheelbarring,is the k@n air filter worth the money?i did put Z-MAX IN TRANNY SHIFTS SO SMOOTH,the 01 was a great model,very nice interior,i hope I have good luck,i had 1 dodge 04 1500 it was junk,it needed breaks every other month,i love the Dakota,thanks for letting me vent, how much will they really tow. I know what the owner manuals said,but I would like to hear from guys that tow,equipment,not a couple 4 wheelers.[big deal]how much pay load,on the 4.7 sport 6.5 box.
Awesome truck - 1994 Dodge Dakota
By Dave - August 25 - 12:47 pm
05 Dodge Dakota 4.3 v8 4x4 - 2005 Dodge Dakota
By Jason Landen - July 28 - 6:54 pm
Pos transmission has gone out 3 times in 4 years. I will not pay to have it "fixed" again.