Dodge Dakota

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Dodge Dakota
2008 Dodge Dakota.jpg
ManufacturerChrysler (1987–1998; 2007–2011)
DaimlerChrysler (1998–2007)
AssemblyWarren, Michigan, United States
Body and chassis
ClassMid-size pickup truck
LayoutFront engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
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Dodge Dakota
2008 Dodge Dakota.jpg
ManufacturerChrysler (1987–1998; 2007–2011)
DaimlerChrysler (1998–2007)
AssemblyWarren, Michigan, United States
Body and chassis
ClassMid-size pickup truck
LayoutFront engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive

The Dodge Dakota is a mid-size pickup truck from Chrysler's Ram (formerly Dodge Truck) division. From its introduction through 2009, it was marketed by Dodge. The first Dakota was introduced in 1986 as a 1987 model alongside the redesigned Dodge Ram 50. The Dakota was nominated for the North American Truck of the Year award for 2000. The Dakota has always been sized above the compact Ford Ranger and Chevrolet S-10 but below the full-sized pickups such as Dodge's own Ram. It is a conventional design with body-on-frame construction and a leaf spring/live axle rear end. The Dakota is the first mid-size pickup with an optional V8 engine. One notable feature was the Dakota's rack and pinion steering, a first for work trucks.[clarification needed] Dakotas have been used by police and fire departments, as off-road vehicles, patrol trucks, or even brush trucks.

First generation (1987–1996)[edit]

See also: Shelby Dakota
First Generation
87-90 Dodge Dakota.jpg
Body and chassis
Body style2-door pickup truck
2-door convertible
2-door extended cab
RelatedShelby Dakota
Engine2.2 L (134 cu in) K I4
2.5 L (150 cu in) K I4
2.5 L (150 cu in) AMC I4
3.9 L (238 cu in) LA/Magnum V6
5.2 L (318 cu in) LA/Magnum V8
Transmission3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Wheelbase111.9 in (2,842 mm)
123.9 in (3,147 mm)
130.9 in (3,325 mm) (ext. cab)
Length1987–1990: 185.9 in (4,722 mm)/204.4 in (5,192 mm)
1989–1990 Club Cab: 211.1 in (5,362 mm)
1991–93: 184.2 in (4,679 mm)/202.7 in (5,149 mm)
1991–93 Club Cab: 203.2 in (5,161 mm)
1994–96: 195.3 in (4,961 mm)/213.8 in (5,431 mm)
1994–96 Club Cab: 214.3 in (5,443 mm)
Width1987–88: 68.4 in (1,737 mm)/68.1 in (1,730 mm)
1989–1996: 69.4 in (1,763 mm)
Height1987–1990: 64.2 in (1,631 mm)/67.1 in (1,704 mm)
1989–1993 Club Cab: 64.7 in (1,643 mm)
1991–93 Club Cab 4WD: 67.7 in (1,720 mm)
1994–96 4WD: 67.3 in (1,709 mm)
1994–96 Club Cab 4WD: 68.5 in (1,740 mm)
1994–96 2WD: 65.0 in (1,651 mm)
1994–96 2WD Club Cab: 65.6 in (1,666 mm)

The Dodge Dakota was conceived by Chrysler management as the first mid-sized pickup combining the nimble handling and fuel economy of a compact pickup with cargo handling capacity approaching that of full-sized pickups. To keep investment low, many components were shared with existing Chrysler products and the manufacturing plant was shared with the full-sized Dodge D-Model. The name Dakota means "friend" or "ally" in the Sioux language, though it could have also referred to The Dakotas states North Dakota and South Dakota.

The first generation of the Dakota was produced from 1987 through 1990. It was slightly updated for 1991-1996. Straight-4 and V6 engines were offered along with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive was available only with the V6. Both six and eight-foot beds were offered. Fuel injection was added to the 3.9 L V6 for 1988 but the output remained the same.

In 1988, the Sport package was added as a mid-year release. Exterior colors came in Black, Bright White and Graphic Red. Available in both 2wd and 4x4, the Sport included:

The N-body platform was the result of operational efforts by Harold K. Sperlich, who was in charge of Chrysler's Product Planning in the early 1980s; in which Japanese-inspired compact pickups of the time lacked the size and features necessary to meet the demands of American buyers. In the late-1970s, Chrysler was still recovering from their near-bankruptcy and resources were in short supply. Sperlich challenged the N-Body team to search for all opportunities to reuse existing components to create the Dakota. The resulting highly investment-efficient program enabled Chrysler to create an all-new market segment at low cost. Key individuals involved in making this product a reality included Glenn Gardner, Glen House, Robert Burnham, Don Sebert, Jim Hackstedde, and Clark Ewing.[citation needed] The basic Dakota vehicle was ultimately used as a foundation to create the Dakota extended cab version and the Dodge Durango SUV.

1989 Dakota Sport convertible
1989 Dakota Sport convertible

1989 saw the unusual Dakota convertible. The first American convertible pickup since the Ford Model A, it featured a fixed roll bar and an uncomplicated manual top. Roughly 2,482 were sold that first year. Another important addition that year was Carroll Shelby's V8-powered Shelby Dakota, his first rear-wheel drive vehicle in two decades.

An extended "Club Cab" model was added for 1990, still with two doors. This model allowed the Dakota to boast capacity for six passengers, even though the rear seat was best suited for cargo or children and shorter adults.

1991–1996 Dodge Dakota Club Cab

In 1991, the front of the Dakota received a new grille and hood which extended the engine compartment to better fit the optional 170 hp (127 kW) 5.2 L V8, which was inspired by the earlier Shelby Dakota V8 option. By 1992, the standard square sealed beam glass headlamps were phased out for the aerodynamic style molded plastic headlamps attached to the grill components. It was equipped with halogen lights, making 1991 the only year for a unique front-end for the Dakota, though it is mechanically possible to fit sealed beams on 1992 to 1996 model years as this model year was an overlap between new grille introduction and new headlamp introduction. Also debuting in 1991 were six-bolt wheels (replacing the earlier five-bolt wheels) based on Dodge's marketing attempting to differentiate the Dakota from competing manufacturers' trucks and the upcoming new Ram introduction. 1991 was also the first year for an optional driver side airbag (made standard in 1994) and the last year for the Dakota convertible.

In order to fulfill the Dodge Division's commitment to the American Sunroof Company (who were responsible for the modifications to these trucks), production of the "drop top" Dakota was extended into the 1991 model year. Production was extremely limited, with just 8 produced in total, making them the most rare of all Dakotas. Unlike the previous years, colors and options varied more than before as the manufacturer picked each of these trucks in a somewhat random fashion. No advertising was given to these trucks, and they do not appear in sales literature. This is most likely due to the fact that the majority of them were pre-sold (sold before getting to their dealer lots).

Both of the V-configuration engines were updated to Magnum specs the next year, providing a tremendous power boost. Along with the introduction of the Magnum engine came multi-port Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI). The EFI computer (called a PCM by Chrysler techs) was partially responsible for the improved performance. The new engine/computer combination produced about 230 hp (172 kW)

1994 saw a few minor changes, with the most notable being the addition of a driver's side airbag, located in a new, two spoke design steering wheel (also found in the Ram). Other changes included the discontinuation of the "SE" and "LE" trims. In following with the all new Ram full sized pickups, top end trim was changed to "SLT", with these models (along with select others) wearing the new chrome finished, styled 6 bolt steel wheels styled similar to the 5 bolt type found on the larger Ram. Other changes included revisions to color and overall trim options. SRS airbags were also added for 1994. A CD player became optional, as did a combination cassette player and CD player unit. Leather seats were also available on LE models. New alloy wheels were available.

In 1996, the first generation's final year, the base K-based 2.5 L SOHC I4 engine option was out of production and had been considered vastly underpowered compared to the competition, so Dodge replaced it with another 2.5 L I4 engine; this being of American Motors heritage with an OHV valvetrain and rated at 120 hp (89 kW). This was the only major change for 1996, and the AMC 2.5 L would also be carried over as the base engine in the new, larger 1997 model.

Li'l Red Express Dakota & Dakota Warrior[edit]

Two special editions of the first were constructed with step-side beds. Both were constructed by L.E.R. Industries of Edwardsburg, Michigan. The step-side beds were constructed out of fiberglass and galvineel.[1] Wooden bed rails were also available.[2]

The Li'l Red Express Dakota was made to resemble the original Express, which was based on the Dodge D-Series. It featured the classic-looking step-side bed and also had dual vertical exhaust stacks just behind the cab, which were purely cosmetic (though they could be made to be functional). The Dakota Warrior was made to resemble the Warlock trucks of the late 1970s. Warriors featured the same custom bed as the Dakota Express, but lacked the vertical exhaust stacks.[1] Both the Express and Warrior Dakotas had a graphics package made to resemble those of the original Express and Warlocks, respectively.[3]

Production numbers for the Express and Warriors were very low, in the hundreds.[4] The rarest of those came with the 5.2L v8 Magnum engine, which was only an option during 1992, the final year of Express and Warrior production.[1]


1991 only facelifted Dodge Dakota with sealed-beam headlights

Second generation (1997–2004)[edit]

Second generation
Production1997–2004 (North America)
1998–2001 (Brazil)
Body and chassis
Body style2-door pickup truck
4-door pickup truck
RelatedDodge Durango
Engine2.5 L PowerTech I4
2.5 L 425 OHV I4 Diesel
3.9 L Magnum V6
5.2 L Magnum V8
5.9 L Magnum V8
4.7 L PowerTech V8
3.7 L PowerTech V6
Transmission4-speed 42RE automatic
4-speed 44RE automatic
4-speed 46RE automatic
4-speed 45RFE automatic
5-speed 545RE automatic
5-speed NV1500 manual
5-speed NV3500 manual
5-speed AX-15 manual
Wheelbase111.9 in (2,842 mm) (reg. short)
123.9 in (3,147 mm) (reg. long)
131.0 in (3,327 mm) (ext. cab)
Length1997–2001 Regular Cab: 195.8 in (4,973 mm)
1997–2001 Extended Cab & 2002-04 Quad Cab: 215.1 in (5,464 mm)
1997–2001 Club Cab: 214.8 in (5,456 mm)
2002–04: 196.0 in (4,978 mm)/215.0 in (5,461 mm)
Width71.5 in (1,816 mm)
Height1997–99 4WD: 68.0 in (1,727 mm)
1997–99 & 2002–04 Club Cab 4WD: 68.5 in (1,740 mm)
1997–2001 2WD: 65.6 in (1,666 mm)/65.3 in (1,659 mm)
2000–01 4WD: 67.9 in (1,725 mm)
2000–01 Club Cab 4WD: 68.6 in (1,742 mm)
2000–01 Quad Cab Sport 4WD: 68.8 in (1,748 mm)
2000–01 Quad Cab Sport 2WD: 66.3 in (1,684 mm)
2002–04 4WD: 67.3 in (1,709 mm)
2002–04 Club Cab 4WD: 67.4 in (1,712 mm)
2002-04 Quad Cab 4WD: 68.5 in (1,740 mm)
2002–04 2WD: 64.7 in (1,643 mm)
2002–04 Club Cab 2WD: 64.9 in (1,648 mm)
2002–04 Quad Cab 4WD: 65.6 in (1,666 mm)

The second generation Dakota was built from 1997 through 2004. It inherited the semi truck look of the larger Ram but remained largely the same underneath. 1998 saw the introduction of the R/T model with the big 5.9 L 250 hp (186 kW) Magnum V8. At the time of its introduction, it was seen as one of the most radical in its class, not only for its styling, but for the fact it remained the only truck in its class with an available V8 engine that rivaled many V8s found in full size trucks with payloads of up to 1500 pounds.

Four-door "Quad-Cab" models were added for 2000 with a slightly shorter bed, 63.1 in (160.2 cm), but riding on the Club Cab's 130.9 in (332.5 cm) wheelbase. The aging 5.2 L Magnum V8 was replaced by a new high-tech 4.7 L SOHC PowerTech V8. The Quad-Cab featured a full-size flip up rear seat to provide room for 3 passengers in the back or lots of dry, interior room for cargo.

In spring 1998, a new limited edition R/T package was available as an option on the Dakota Sport model. This version is considered a true street/sport truck, only available in RWD. Factory modifications such as a 250 hp 360 cid/5.9 liter V8, heavy duty 46RE 4-speed automatic transmission, performance axle, limited-slip differential, sport suspension and steering, upgraded brakes, performance exhaust, special cast aluminum wheels, monotone paint, bucket seats, and many other standard options came with the package. Chrome wheels were available on 2002 models. Some of the last models made in 2003 came with the new stampede lower body cladding package and chromed version of the original cast aluminum wheels at no extra charge. This version of the R/T Dakota was produced through 2003, with the newer 2003 R/T trucks designated as their own trimline and no longer as part of an option package on the Dakota Sport trim.

Also, in 1998 the Dakota R1 was released for production in Brazil thru the efforts of a small team known as Truck Special Programs and featured a base 4-cylinder engine and offered a 2.5L VMI turbo-diesel along with a V8, all designed around a reinforced 4 wheel drive chassis used on both 2 wheel and 4 wheel drive models. Altogether there were 28 roll-in-chassis R1 configurations designed for the Brazil market to be built at the Curitiba assembly facility as CKDs. This program was cancelled when Chrysler was purchased by Daimler.

Dodge Dakota Sport Quad-Cab

2000 saw the introduction of the 4.7 liter V8 and 45RFE automatic transmission.

2001 saw a fairly extensive revision of the Dakota's interior, including a completely redesigned dash, door panels and revised seats. Other minor trim revisions were made, including redesigned aluminum wheels on various models. All vehicles also got new radio options. Only the standard AM/FM radio (with no cassette deck) was discontinued, making an AM/FM radio with a cassette deck standard on all models. AM/FM stereo CD and cassette/CD variants were also available.

2002 was the final year for the four-cylinder engine in the Dakota, as Chrysler ended production of the former AMC design. Most buyers ordered the V6 or V8 engines, which were considerably more powerful and, in the case of the V6, which was made standard for 2003, nearly as fuel-efficient with a manual transmission. Also, an automatic transmission was not available with the 4-cylinder. SIRIUS Satellite Radio was also now available as an option, and revised radios with new wiring harnesses could accommodate this new feature. A CD changer radio was also available, eliminating the need for a separately-mounted unit located elsewhere inside of the truck. The driver could load up to six discs into the unit at a time, and could switch out the discs at any time, something that the driver could not do with the old unit. Radio Data System became standard equipment on some radios.

2003 was the end of the old OHV V6 and the big R/T V8; the 2004 model year vehicles were available with a new 3.7 L PowerTech V6 engine to go along with the 4.7 L V8 variant.

In 2004, the cassette deck option was discontinued, and a CD player became standard equipment on all models.

This generation was also assembled and sold in Brazil from 1998 to 2001.

The IIHS gave this generation a Poor rating in the frontal offset crash test.[5]


Third generation (2005–2011)[edit]

Third generation
Also calledRam Dakota (2009–2011)
Body and chassis
Body style4-door pickup truck
RelatedMitsubishi Raider
Dodge Durango
Engine3.7 L (226 cu in) PowerTech V6
4.7 L (287 cu in) PowerTech V8
Transmission4-speed 42RLE automatic
5-speed 545RFE automatic
6-speed Getrag 238 manual
Wheelbase131.3 in (3,335 mm)
Length218.8 in (5,558 mm)
Width71.7 in (1,821 mm)
HeightClub Cab: 68.6 in (1,742 mm)
Quad Cab: 68.7 in (1,745 mm)

The redesigned 2005 Dakota still shared its platform with the new Dodge Durango SUV (which is now similar to the Ram platform). This model is 3.7 in (94 mm) longer and 2.7 in (69 mm) wider, and features a new front and rear suspension, and rack-and-pinion steering. This new generation model also reverted the wheels back to five lug wheels from the prior generation's six lug wheels due to cost and assembly time saving measures. The Dakota is built at the Warren Truck Assembly plant in Warren, Michigan.

There was a V6 and two V8 engines available: The standard engine is a 3.7 L PowerTech V6; the two 4.7 L V8 engines are the standard PowerTech V8 and the V8 High Output or HO. The 3.7 L V6 produces 210 horsepower (160 kW) and 235 lb·ft (319 N·m) of torque. The standard-output 4.7 L V8 produces 230 hp (170 kW) and 295 lb·ft (400 N·m) of torque. The high-output 4.7 L V8 produces 260 horsepower (190 kW) and 310 lb·ft (420 N·m) of torque. Both the 3.7 L and standard output 4.7 L V8s were available with the 6-speed manual transmission in 2005 and 2006. For 2007, that option was deleted on the V8 models.

In addition to a refresh of the Dakota's styling, this generation was not offered in a regular cab model. Only the club cab and quad cab configurations were available. 2006 saw the Dakota R/T return, however only with cosmetic modifications. Despite the "R/T" moniker which signifies "Road and Track", the newest Dakota R/T was simply an option package, characterized by a non functional hood scoop, exclusive gauge cluster, and hockey-stick style side stripes. The package was available on both 2 and 4 wheel drive models.

2008 Dakota crew cab

The facelifted third generation Dakota was unveiled at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show. The Dakota received another facelift and interior upgrade along with a few other upgrades including 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 the largest mid-size truck cab. Its new 4.7 liter V8 produces 310 hp (231 kW) and 330 lb·ft (447 N·m) of torque. The standard engine remained the 3.7 liter V6 with 210 horsepower (160 kW) and 235 lb·ft (319 N·m). of torque. Production began in August 2007.

As of 2010, the Dakota was considered a part of the Ram lineup. However, the "Dodge" emblem still existed on the tailgate, and the truck was interchangeably referred to as a Ram Dakota or Dodge Dakota. Its Mitsubishi Raider sibling was discontinued in 2009, and Chrysler was readying the Ram brand to launch in the 2010 model year, making the Ram Dakota replace the Mitsubishi Raider & Dodge Dakota.

Rear view of a 2007 Dakota Crew Cab

The IIHS gave this generation a Good rating in the frontal offset crash test.[7]


The third-generation Dakota was discontinued in 2011, with the last unit coming off the assembly line on August 23, 2011, ending the truck's 25-year run.[8] As of 2011, according to Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Chrysler Group, the Dakota will probably not be replaced by a similar vehicle, mostly due to declining popularity of compact trucks on the North American market (see Ford Ranger for similar outcome).[8] Another problem was that buyers complained that the smaller pickup was not priced lower than the full-sized Ram 1500; nevertheless, there continue to be reports of the Dakota's return since 2012.[9][10] However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced in September 2014 an agreement with Mitsubishi Motors to codevelop the next generation Mitsubishi L200 to be sold globally by both companies.

U.S. sales figures[edit]

Calendar YearSales


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "IIHS-HLDI:Dodge Dakota regular cab". Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ "2006 Dodge Dakota Specifications" (PDF). Chrysler Media. DaimlerChrysler. 
  7. ^ "IIHS-HLDI:Dodge Dakota crew cab". Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Chrysler to stop Dakota production". The Detroit News. August 20, 2011. Archived from the original on August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ "The 2016 Dodge Dakota pickup truck". Retrieved January 29, 1014. 
  10. ^ Williams, Mark (January 9, 2012). "The Next Dodge Dakota: More Intel From Chrysler CEO". Retrieved January 29, 1014. 
  11. ^ "Chrysler Group Announces Year-End and December Sales". Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  12. ^ "Chrysler Group Reports U.S. December Sales". Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  13. ^ "Chrysler Group Reports December 2003 Sales Increase of 2 Percent". 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  14. ^ "Chrysler Group 2005 U.S. Sales Rise 5 Percent, Highest Since 2000; December Sales Decline In Line with Overall Industry". Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  15. ^ "Total Chrysler LLC December 2007 Sales Up 1 Percent on the Strength of Retail; Demand...". Reuters. 2008-01-03. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  16. ^ "Chrysler LLC Reports December 2008 U.S. Sales". Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  17. ^ "Chrysler Group LLC December 2009 Sales". Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  18. ^ "Chrysler Group LLC December 2010 Sales". Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  19. ^ "Chrysler sales shoot up 37% (26% for 2011)". Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  20. ^ "Chrysler Group LLC Reports December 2012 U.S. Sales Increased 10 Percent" (Press release). Chrysler Group LLC. 2013-01-03. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 

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