The 2008-2010 Dodge Dakota pickup trucks
On Sunday, February 4, 2007, Dodge unveiled a new Dakota. The truck was given more capacity, and the price and capability bumped up even closer against the Ram 1500. New features included built-in cargo-box utility rails, heated bench seats, best-in-class towing (up to 7,050 pounds), the largest and longest standard bed in the class, and a 60 horsepower upgrade for the V8 engine - along with better gas mileage. (How’d they do that?)
The 2008 Dakotas started at $20,080, including destination; the TRX4 Crew Cab with four wheel drive sold for $30,400. All Dakotas were made in Warren, Michigan.
The Dodge Dakota wore a new face; the Laramie had a chromed grille, the TRX had wheel bulges, and the Sport had a monochromatic look. The Dakota was still a bit awkward from some angles, with the unavoidable side bulges up front, but it looked cleaner and had a stylistic differentiation from the big Rams. The interior had some clever new features: an open shelf above the glove compartment, a cell/iPod shelf folds from the console, and hefty underseat storage with milk-crate like removeable bins. You can buy extra bins and keep fishing gear or other items in them, swapping bins rather than reloading them when going on different trips. The bed was updated, with models from SLT up having tie-downs, a top protector, and a dual position gate that can be locked in the halfway-down position.
There were six Dakota classes, including SXT, SLT, Sport, TRX, and Laramie, each with its own grille; engines were the 3.7 V6 and the related, 302 horsepower, flex-fuel 4.7 V8. Dodge Dakota remained the only truck in its class with an optional V8, and had the highest payload - 1,750 pounds - and both part-time and full-time four wheel drive.
Dodge Dakota got new headlamps with accent rings, a new fascia, hood, grille, and fender, new TRX cosmetic package, and Sport model got a body color grille with chrome billets. The instrument panel was redesigned with additional storage, the center console was updated, the rear seat was made collapsible and removable underseat storage, new sport seats became available, MyGIG was added as an option, and a foldout electronics organizer was added.
2009 Dodge Dakota changes: the SXT was replaced by the more evocative Big Horn and Lone Star models, while slow-selling SLT, Sport, and TRX 4x2 trim levels were all dropped. New colors included white, blue, and tan; underseat crate storage was made standard on Big Horn and Lone Star, along with 18 inch wheels and the V8 engine. Tilt wheel was added to ST, cloth buckets on Laramie, and bolstered buckets on TRX4.
For 2010, the Dodge Dakota got new front shock modules and rear spring assemblies for better ride and handling. Bright White replaced Stone White, Flame Red replaced Detonator Yellow, and Mango Tango replaced Sunburst Orange.
The 2011 Dodge Dakota added standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes and side curtain airbags on all models; there were four new colors (deep cherry red, deep forest green, white gold) but auto-dimming mirrors were no longer available. Dodge expected three quarters of sales to go to the Big Horn / Lone Star package, with the rest going to the entry level ST and top line Laramie.
Dodge Dakota pickups: powertrains
The 302 horsepower 4.7 V8 (the only V8 in this class) had better fuel economy, power, and torque than the previous High Output engine. Torque went up to 320 lb.-ft., and the engine could operate on E85 ethanol fuel. Smoother and quieter running came from revisions to the induction system, a lightweight piston/rod assembly, reduced accessory drive noise through lower accessory drive speed, and a new valve-lash adjuster system. The 4.7-liter V-8 had Electronic Throttle Control (drive by wire). Key upgrades were dual spark plugs per cylinder, increased compression, better cylinder-head port flow, and a new combustion system.
The standard engine remained the 3.7 V6 with 210 horsepower and 235 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine also came with Electronic Throttle Control.
The all V-6 equipped 2008 Dodge Dakotas except Laramie got a six-speed manual; the V6 could be paired with a four-speed automatic, while the V8 could get a five-speed automatic. A choice of transfer cases is also available for four-wheel-drive Dakotas, one part-time and one full-time, both with locked high and low ranges. The 2007 Dodge Dakota is the only pickup in its segment to offer full-time four-wheel drive. A first-for-the-segment remote starter for more convenience is standard.
2008 Dodge Dakota styling
The 2008 Dodge Dakota’s exterior includes a newly styled hood, grille, front fascia, rear spoiler, fenders and headlamps. The front end improves aerodynamics, and has better fit and gap management. The hood surface was designed to signify power and further amplify the drop-fendered, signature look for Dodge trucks. Like the Dodge Nitro, headlamps are rectangular units primarily for a contemporary appearance, but also to maximize the surface area for better forward lighting. Reflectors are deep-set behind each lense to achieve a serious demeanor.
New fascias incorporate fog lamps. The tailgate has a new spoiler that helps smooth air flow over the rear of the truck to improve fuel economy, and the top surface of the cargo box has a new protective surface.
For 2008, the Dodge Dakota will again be offered in two body styles — Extended Cab and Crew Cab — and six trim levels: ST, SXT, SLT, TRX4, Sport and Laramie.
Dodge Dakota interior
The new 2008 Dodge Dakota’s interior included a new instrument panel, center console and accent finishes, and several new interior storage choices. “The interior is designed to provide an ergonomically friendly cockpit with improved comfort, utility and thoughtful storage amenities to complement a variety of lifestyles,” said stylist Ralph Gilles. Cost reductions were moderately apparent.
The 2008 Dodge Dakota Extended Cab’s available Full Swing™ rear access doors open nearly 170 degrees (unique in the segment) to an interior with class-leading room and seating for five. With rear seats folded, up to 30 cubic feet of storage space is available. Six storage hooks are on the Extended Cab’s rear interior panel.
The Crew Cab offers best-in-class room — 37.1 cubic feet -- and seating for up to six. With rear seats folded, a new under-seat storage system, a first for Dodge Dakota, is easily accessible. This system includes a unique, collapsible and removable cargo management system that enables gear to be organized and taken anywhere.
Other storage options are provided throughout the interior. For example, an additional storage bin is located above the glove box, providing easy access for everyday items. An all-new center console incorporates cup holders with modular inserts and a pull-out bin specifically designed to hold electronics such as an MP3 player (which can be plugged into any of the 2007 Dodge Dakota’s audio systems), cell phone or Personal Digital Assistant. An additional power outlet is also provided.
Seating is available with YES Essentials™ Worry Free Fabric, which is stain-resistant, odor-resistant and anti-static. Heated bench seats are available in the 2008 Dodge Dakota for the first time. Seating options include an available 40/20/40 split-bench front seat with a folding center armrest. The 2008 Dodge Dakota Extended Cab is available with 40/40 rear-folding seats, while Crew Cab models have a standard 60/40 split-folding rear seat.
Electronic choices include AM-FM stereo radios with MP3 capability and available SIRIUS Satellite Radio that delivers more than 125 channels of music, sports, news, talk and weather. Also available as stand-alone options are a 508-watt SoundBox system (available on Extended Cab models) and a DVD navigation system with turn-by-turn directions. A power accessory delay, standard on all 2008 Dodge Dakotas, allows power functions, including radio, to operate after the vehicle is turned off.
Frame and cargo: 2008 Dodge Dakota pickup trucks
The foundation of the new 2008 Dodge Dakota is a ladder-type frame, with main rails formed to precision tolerances under liquid pressure and fully boxed for strength and rigidity; an independent front suspension with coil-over shock absorbers is used on all models. The result is identical ride height for two- and four-wheel-drive models, which contributes to smooth ride and handling.
The 2008 Dodge Dakota continues to offer the largest and longest standard cargo bed in its class: 6-foot-6-inches in the Extended Cab. Built-in utility rails make cargo box tie-downs infinitely adjustable. The 2008 Dodge Dakota’s dual-position tailgate may be secured in a mid-position, which provides support for extra-wide or -long cargo laid on top of wheel wells and extending beyond the end of the bed.
The Dakota continues to wear the crown for highest tow ratings in the mid-size pickup market, with towing ability of up to 7,050 pounds.
Up front, octagonal front frame rail tips collapse rearward in an impact in order to absorb energy and deter force from the cabin. An anti-lock brake system is standard on rear wheels, and available on all four wheels.
Advance multi-stage driver and front passenger air bags are standard, and supplemental side-curtain air bags are available. Rear head restraints on Crew Cab models, which are designed for the driver’s rearward visibility, have a foam-padded structure for increased protection.