2005 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab. Click image to enlarge
Story and photos by Paul Williams
Nashville, Tennessee – With trucks, as with cars, size is returning to the marketplace. The 2005 Dodge Dakota is 94-millimetres (nearly four-inches) longer than last year’s model, and, says Dodge, offers full-size pickup capabilities in a medium-sized truck.
The Dakota is a formidable machine. It’s bigger in length, width, height and wheelbase than the recently introduced Colorado and Canyon trucks from General Motors.
It’s also the only medium-sized pickup with an available V8 engine (Magnum or High Output Magnum), and, depending upon specifications, it can tow up to 3,350 kilograms (7,150 pounds). The new Dakota is the eighth of nine product launches this year from a very busy DaimlerChrysler (which after three-years will have 25 new vehicles on the road).
At $25,180, it’s the lowest-priced mid-sized, V8-powered pickup on the market, but it can be bought for less with the standard V-6 for $24,505.
In appearance, the Dakota features a more straight-edged look on the fenders and sides, and overall a more angular theme. But it retains the brash, big-rig, look of the Dodge truck family. Concerning the new chiselled lines of the Dakota, Ron Smith, DaimlerChrysler Canada’s VP Marketing said, “There’s no mistaking this truck for anything but a Dodge,” and he’s right. If you know your vehicles at all, the Dodge Dakota is easily identifiable even from a distance.
The Dakota will be available in three levels of trim starting with the ST, moving up to the SLT and topping out with the Laramie. All levels will offer 2WD and 4WD versions, with Club Cab or Quad Cab seating. Box length for the Club Cab is 78 inches; for the Quad Cab it’s 64 inches. Interiors are all-new, functional and nicely designed.
2005 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab
The base ST Club Cab with 2WD comes standard with 16-inch wheels and an all-new six-speed Getrag manual transmission (four-speed automatic is available). Its 3.7-litre V-6 engine makes 210 horsepower and 235 lb.-ft. of torque. Rear anti-lock brakes are standard, and the ST is available with a range of options including dual rear seats, UConnect hands-free communication, sliding rear window, trailer tow package and side-curtain airbags. An unusual option is heated cloth seats (this option is often tied to leather upholstery).
The 4.7-litre Magnum V8, rated at 230 horsepower and 290 lb.-ft. of torque adds $675 to the ST, and four-wheel-drive another $3,570 to the ST price. The top-level ST Quad Cab with four-wheel drive is $30,725. Trucks with a V-8 engine receive an available five-speed automatic transmission, but the six-speed manual is the standard gearbox.
The $26,725 Dakota SLT also comes standard with the V-6 engine, but offers a choice of two V-8 engines – the Magnum and High Output Magnum. The latter engine makes over 250-h.p. and 300-plus lb.-ft of torque (specifications for this engine are being finalized, and it’s a “late” delivery item for the Dakota).
The SLT comes standard with tilt steering, cruise control, 16-inch aluminum wheels, fog lamps, dual rear seats and power windows, locks and mirrors. Chrome-clad 17″ wheels are available, as are power seats, overhead console, Infinity six-speaker 288-watt premium audio, four-wheel ABS and a two-speed, full-time transfer case.
The $33,000 Dodge Dakota Laramie comes standard with the Magnum V-8 engine (the High Output V-8 is optional). Leather seating is also standard, along with the premium sound system and most of the other options from the ST and SLT trucks. A fully loaded Dakota Laramie Quad Cab with 4WD is $39,215.
The hydroformed, fully boxed frame provides a rigid and strong foundation for the Dakota. Attention was paid to occupant safety in the case of frontal and side impacts, and fuel system protection in high-speed rear impacts.
The front section uses octagonal rail tips (first used on the 2004 Dodge Durango) to extend the frame forward of the front wheels. This, along with lengthening the vehicle to provide added crush space and slightly extending the bumpers, improves occupant protection in a crash. The rear section of the frame is anticipated to meet 80-km/h offset rear impact safety standards for fuel system integrity.
Rear seats in the Quad Cab versions receive three shoulder belts and accompanying head restraints.
The strong frame contributes to the vehicle’s solid feel and considerable towing capacity. The base V-6 ST, for example, has a maximum trailer weight of 3,150-pounds, but the vehicle can be configured to tow over 7,000-lbs (SLT or Laramie with High Output V-8, five-speed automatic transmission, 3.92 rear axle).
On the road the Dakota has a smooth ride and precise handling due to its all-new rack-and-pinion steering gear, and tuned suspension. It is, however, a little bouncy over irregular surfaces.
Wind tunnel testing has resulted in aerodynamic modifications to the A-pillars, mirrors and facia. This, in combination with polymer insulating material, thicker glass, multiple-sealed weather stripping, dash, tunnel and door trim silencer contributes to the quiet cabin which exhibits almost no wind noise, and very little road noise.
Towing a 3,000-lb boat/trailer combination is not too much of a job for the V-6 ST Dakota, although a 4,000-lb trailer caused considerable effort on hills at moderate speeds. The Magnum V-8 is a better bet if you plan to tow this much, obviating the need to for downshifting in similar situations.
However, only 10-15% of Dakota buyers use it to tow, according to Dodge executives. Many just like the knowledge that if they need to, they can.
Dakotas are built at the Warren Truck Plant in Warren, Michigan.