- Trailer-towing capability
- Acceleration (V6)
- Fuel economy
- Rear-seat room (Club Cab)
V8 Dakotas have good power in around-town driving, and adequate highway-passing reserves. V6 Dakotas are underpowered for anything but daily commuting and light loads.
In Consumer Guide testing, an automatic-transmission crew-cab Dakota with the V6 averaged 17.3 mpg in mostly city driving. We haven't had an opportunity to measure with the V8. All Dakotas use regular-grade gas. The V8 can also run on E85 ethanol-blended fuel.
Dakota's ride is typical for a truck. Test models suffered from noticeable bounding and choppiness over broken surfaces.
Steering has a direct feel and lacks typical truck sloppiness. Body lean is evident in turns, but is well-controlled overall for a pickup. Four-wheel ABS is a worthwhile investment over the standard rear-only arrangement, though it should really be standard.
Road noise is impressively hushed. Some wind rush is apparent at highway speeds. The well-muted V8 engine sound refined in rapid acceleration. The V6 is crude by comparison and drowns out most other sources of ruckus.
Controls are logically placed and readily accessible. Large gauges are easy to read.
Interior materials look and feel budget grade. Hard, shiny plastic covers most surfaces, and some controls lack a quality feel.
Room/Comfort/Driver Seating (Front)
The spacious cabin has plenty of headroom and legroom. The crew-cab and some extended-cab versions of this truck have an available bench seat. Even with rear-wheel drive, step-in height is a bit steep.
Crew cabs offer 3-abreast rear seating, but only two adults will fit comfortably. Headroom and legroom are adequate for adults under 6-feet, but taller riders will want more legroom. Extended cab's available forward-facing jump seats best suit those under 5-foot-3 because legroom is scarce. Extended cab's available Full Swing rear doors open nearly 170 degrees, thereby easing entry and exit, as well as cargo loading.
Ample center-console (on models so equipped) and door-pocket storage. Crate 'N Go and folding rear seats add to these trucks' utility.
Value Within Class
This pickup deserves a look for its refinement and "big-truck" capability. It's a bit too cumbersome for easy daily commuting, but a V8 model is a terrific choice if you tow or do heavy hauling and don't want the bulk of a true large pickup truck.
The 2010 Dodge Dakota gets a slightly revised suspension, but is largely unchanged otherwise. This compact pickup truck comes in two body styles. Extended Cabs have a 6.4-foot cargo bed and rear-hinged back doors that do not open independently of the fronts. They seat up to 5. Crew cabs have a 5.3-foot bed, conventional back doors, and seat up to 6. Four trim levels are offered: Base ST, mid-level Big Horn (Lone Star in Texas), off-road-ready TRX4, and top-end Laramie. Dakota's standard engine is a 210-horsepower 3.7-liter V6. It teams with a 4-speed automatic transmission. A 302-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 is standard on the TRX4 and optional on Big Horn and Laramie. The V8 comes only with a 5-speed automatic. Dakota is available with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The 4WD system should not be left engaged on dry pavement, but it includes low-range gearing for off-road use. Maximum towing capacity is 7,250 pounds. Available safety features include ABS and curtain-side airbags. Also available are heated cloth or leather front seats and Dodge's Crate 'N Go system, which includes collapsible and removable interior storage containers.
Consumer Guide Automotive places each vehicle into one of 18 classes based on size, price, and market position. Compact Pickups offer a true-truck design in a relatively modest package. They are best suited for personal or light-duty use rather than commercial use, heavy hauling, or towing.
Our Best Buy is the Toyota Tacoma. Our Recommended picks are the Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier, and Suzuki Equator.