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The 2005-2007 Dodge Dakota: "Oops."
Or, "Honey, we screwed up the truck."

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It should have been a contender: the 2005 Dodge Dakota had a new frame, more power, better gas mileage, and the only V8 in its class. With up to 7,000 pounds of towing capability, beating some full-size pickups, the pickup had a gross combined weight (GCW) of 11,500 lbs. All this was carried on new front and rear suspensions, covered by what can best be described as "odd/blocky" styling.

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When launching it, EVP of Product Development Eric Ridenour said, "Dodge buyers like the 'right size' of the current Dodge Dakota, which is more fuel efficient and maneuverable than a full-size pickup, but can still get the big jobs done." With the 2005, Dodge seemed to have lost that "right size," producing a truck that, in their desire to beat competitors in every metric, ended up nearly as big as a Ram 1500, and often cost more to buy.

The 2005 Dodge Dakota was 3.7 inches longer and 2.7 inches wider than the 2004s, which had already been fairly large. The truck not only shared parts and engineering with the Ram 1500, the two were built together.

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The Dodge Dakota Quad Cab (shown above) had the most interior space in its class, with optional six-passenger seating, and was the first mid-size pickup to have heated cloth seats. The regular cab was gone, replaced by the Club Cab, with rear "suicide doors." The Club Cab had the longer six-foot, six-inch bed; the Dakota Quad Cab had a five-foot, three-inch bed.

Automotive design Vehicle door Automotive exterior Glass Trunk

Engines and transmissions

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Four cylinder engines were in the Dakota's past; now, the base engine was a 3.7-liter Magnum V-6 (210 hp / 235 lb-ft). It scored 6% better gas mileage than the old 3.9-liter V-6 - 16/22 manual, 17/22 with RWD.

The optional 4.7-liter V-8 was rated at 260 horsepower (4,600 rpm) and 290 lb-ft. of torque; the High Output version (sold on SLT and Laramie automatics) went to 260 horsepower (5,200 rpm) and 310 lb-ft. Both were coupled to the 5-45RFE five-speed automatic transmission, and gained in gas mileage over the old 5.2 and 5.9 liter V8s (the base V8 was rated 15/20 with RWD and manual - 14/19 with 4x4 and automatic), and the HO was rated 14/18 with RWD and automatic).

The V6 used a new Getrag six-speed manual or four-speed automatic (42RLE); the standard-output V8 also had the manual as its base transmission. Automatic buyers got a new electronically modulated converter clutch that partly locked up the torque converter at low speeds for efficiency; dual knock sensors provided more spark advance to be programmed in (the knock sensors would reduce the advance if bad fuel was used).

Product Technology Line Machine Engine

The base four wheel drive system was a conventional part-time setup; but the Dakota was also the only midsize pickup with an optional two-speed full-time transfer case (NV244HD), whichi used a center differential to let the front and rear drive shafts rotate at different speeds. A new powdered-metal differential in the NV244HD transfer case reduced its weight by 2.5 pounds, and both had an electric shifter.

Body and chassis

The new frame had box-section rails; all joints were welded.
A new lower-control-arm cross member connecting the rear lower control arm pivots increased torsional and lateral stiffness.

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A new short and long-arm (SLA) independent front suspension system with a "coil-over" shock absorber module and tall steering knuckle, replacing separate 2WD and 4WD systems. With only tuning differences between RWD and 4WD front suspensions, the Dakotas had a common ride height.
The rear suspension kept the Hotchkiss architecture and multi-leaf rear springs; the system was retuned, though.

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The box was re-designed, with new vertical formations in the inner panels aft of the wheelhouses holding a two-inch-thick board cargo divider. The box inner panels and wheelhouses included indentations for 2 x 6-inch boards that could be added to support a full-width upper load floor.

New bolt-on tie-downs were added, along with under-floor tie-downs bolted to the Quad Cab front box pillars, welded into the Club Cab box support rail below the box floor, and bolted to the tailgate pillars on both boxes.

To absorb front impacts, hydroformed front rail tips extended the frame three inches (75 mm) farther forward of the front wheels (these were carried over from the 2004s). There were optional side curtain air bags; front seat belts included pyrotechnic pre-tensioners to snug them around the occupant prior to contact with the air bags. The Dodge Dakota also offered shoulder belts for three rear seat occupants.
All 2005 Dodge Dakotas sensed the weight of the front passenger to determine whether to fire the airbag, and how much force to use.

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Trevor Creed claimed that the interior was "more refined....with a clean and precise design; simple yet elegant and upscale. We have moved to very large, clear instruments and a more tailored look for materials, including the seat cloth and leather surfaces." See if you agree...

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The 2005 Dodge Dakota was built at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Warren, Michigan.

The 2007 Dakota gained a standard dual position tailgate, new colors (including Brilliant Black and Electric Blue), standard stain resistant fabric on SLT (and ST with seat upgrades), and a power accessory delay that kept the radio and such on after the vehicle was shut off, for a while. The V6 was adjusted to get electronic throttle control and EGR, while the V6 was made flexible-fuel capable. Dodge made some changes to the optional wheel offerings, launched a remote starter, put in the controversial "one touch - three blink" turn signals, and made the Enhanced Road/Track Performance Group package optional on the RWD R/T. This included 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels, 245/45ZR20 all-season performance tires, and front chin and rear decklid spoilers.

Overall, the Dakota was capable, but its price had gone up, and many buyers either shrugged and went to a Ram 1500 or turned to the Chevy Colorado and Toyota Tacoma. The 4.7 V8 was a well-reworked engine, but the Ram 1500 had the 5.7 Hemi.

Grown too large, styled too awkwardly, the new Dakota's sales slumped rapidly, and Dodge worked quickly to update it. A new, and final, Dodge Dakota showed up in 2008, but it didn't solve the basic problems, and the line came to an end.

See our personal driving impressions from 2006

Comparison to Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma

Provided by 73PlymouthDuster.

All three had a hydroformed frame for greater strength and stiffness. The lower weight of the Colorado and Tacoma helped with acceleration; the Tacoma V6 reportedly did 0-60 in about 7.5 seconds.

Dodge DakotaChevy ColoradoToyota Tacoma
Maximum Towing7,000 lb4,000 lb6,500 lb
Standard Engine210 hp V6175 hp I4164 hp I4
Optional EngineV8: 230 hp, 290 lb-ftI5: 220 hp, 225 lb-ftV6: 245 hp
Gas mileage 14/18 or 16/2117/22 or 19/2417/21 (V6)
Weight4,275 - 4,2933,3984,045

1987-96 Dodge Dakota1997-20042005-072008-11Future DakotaForums
Reviews: Sport (2000) • Dodge Dakota (2006) • 2008
2005 Dodge Dakota specifications

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All dimensions measured on ST model at curb weight with standard tires unless otherwise noted.

Getrag 238 manual six-speed transmission ratios: 4.23, 2.53, 1.56, 1.23, 1.00, 0.79; Reverse, 3.84. Overall top gear 2.54 with 3.21 axle ratio, 2.80 with 3.55 axle ratio

AWD: NV233HD standard, NV244HD optional on SLT and Laramie. 2.72:1 low range ratio.

  • Operating Modes: Neutral; 2WD; 4WD High, locked; 4WD Low, locked (NV244HD adds 4WD High, Full-Time)
  • Low Range Ratio: 2.72
  • Center Differential: None for NV233HD, planetary with lock for NV244HD (48/52 torque split, F/R)

Alternator: 136 amp, with top-terminal 600 CCA battery (750 CCA optional).

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Front suspension: Upper and lower "A" arms, coil springs over gas-pressure shock absorbers, link-type stabilizer bar. Rear suspension: Live axle, multi-leaf 2-stage longitudinal springs, staggered gas-pressure shock absorbers, link-type stabilizer bar.

Steering: Power rack and pinion, 17.4:1 ratio, 44.0 foot turning diameter, 3.18 turns lock to lock

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12.3 x 1.1 front vented disc with 2.13 dual-piston sliding caliper; 11.6 x 2.28 rear drums with ABS

30.3 sq ft frontal areaClub Cab Quad Cab
Drag coefficient0.4650.471
CdA, square feet14.114.3
  • Wheelbase: 131.3
  • Length: 218.8
  • Width: 71.7 (72.0 4x4)
  • Height: 68.6
Min. ground clearance7.97.9
Approach angle23°22.8°
Breakover angle19.9°19.6°
Departure angle22.6°22.5°

Cargo box: 59.6" wide (max), 45.2" wide (at wheelhouses). 17.6" deep.

Length with tailgate closed: 78.8" (Club Cab), 64.9" (Quad Cab)

Club CabQuad Cab

Front Head Room


Front Interior Volume, cu. ft.

55.3 55.8
Rear Head Room36.5 38.4
Minimum Leg Room (Rear)32.1 36.4
Rear Interior Volume, cu. ft. 39.0 46.5
Cab cargo volume (rear seats folded)30.0 37.1
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1987-96 Dodge Dakota1997-20042005-072008-11Future DakotaForums
Reviews: Sport (2000) • Dodge Dakota (2006) • 2008


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