2008 Dodge Dakota SXT Crew Cab 4X4
2008 Dodge Dakota SXT Crew Cab 4X4. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Dodge Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery:
2008 Dodge Dakota SXT Crew Cab 4X4

I never thought this would catch on. (22)

When I think of Crew Cabs, I think back to one-ton behemoths of the early Eighties. Most were finished in City of Winnipeg Works and Operations livery, though the odd visionary would outfit a family version, usually with stick-on walleye leaping across the camper topper. Fashionable they were not. Who could have predicted that the concept would eventually become the equivalent of Truk Shui. Today’s growing family includes an abundance of gear, and the Dakota Crew Cab has a healthy appetite for it, in the medium-sized truck segment. This week’s tester is an SXT 4X4 version, tipping the scales at an MSRP of $38,630.

2008 Dodge Dakota SXT Crew Cab 4X4
Cruise control buttons are big and easy to use. Click image to enlarge
The Cockpit

My, what big cruise control switches you have! That’s all the switchability you’ll find on the tilt/no telescope four-spoke wheel. I’m willing to bet an even Loonie that the reasoning behind them is for the ease of actuation with thickened mittens. A novel concept, until you remember that using cruise control in the Season of the Mitten is not recommended by driving experts. The gauge array is too simple for a truck, with only fuel, coolant temperature, and RPM’s visible. Wiper controls are located on the turn signal stalk, with headlamp, dimmer, and cargo lamp switches found to the left of the driver. The five-speed automatic is a column shift, with Tow/Haul mode switch.

2008 Dodge Dakota SXT Crew Cab 4X4
The Dakota’s HVAC controls are simple. Click image to enlarge

The driver’s door glass is the only pane to receive an Auto descent, while the power mirrors possess a glaring omission for the worksite, or the home supply warehouse parking lot: no breakaway protection.

The Centre Stack

Simple, and to the point best describes the centre stack pod, with EZ-Twist dial controls for HVAC. There is a 12-volt powerpoint, and a CD audio system, with MP3 jack, and a rough-in for future UConnect Bluetooth connectivity. Of particular concern is the location of the transfer case dial, completely below the driver’s line of sight.

Cubbies!

Front and rear doors get thin side pockets, with no bottle holder provisions. The glovebox might hold a glove, after you remove the owner’s manual. The top tray has an inner rubbery compartment, with no door, and not even an attempt at incorporating the Mopar Cool Box. The centre console boasts three cupholders, with the ability to remove the cup pods directly next to the driver for EZ-Clean. If only one of them had some type of cincher.

2008 Dodge Dakota SXT Crew Cab 4X4
2008 Dodge Dakota SXT Crew Cab 4X4
2008 Dodge Dakota SXT Crew Cab 4X4
2008 Dodge Dakota SXT Crew Cab 4X4
Sun visors slide, for optimum effectiveness (top photo); Driver’s seat is six-way power adjustable (photo two); movable cleats are part of the Cargo Convenience Group (photo three); there is an abundance of user-serviceable parts under the hood. Click image to enlarge

A coinholder is found in one of the forward cubbies. Flip up the armrest, and an ample cubby is revealed, with a 12-volt powerpoint, and a flip-down flexible gripper tray for cell phone grab. The rear beverages get a dual floor-mount cupholder, with no cinch provisions.

The Overhead

Visors are sliders, for optimum sunblock. The only mirror is unlit, on the passenger side. Robust ceiling hanger hooks are found on the rear wall of the cab.

Seat treat

The driver’s seat may be power, but it is only six-way, with manual recliner, and twist-dial control for lumbar. There is two-step heat for the front seats, which are covered with the YES Essentials stain-repellent cloth.

Spare care

It’s a wind-down carrier for the full-size spare tire and steel rim. Tools are found behind the rear seat, on the passenger side. Dodge will change it for you, for the first five years or 100,000 kilometres.

Cargo embargo

The tailgate gets good marks for release and weight, though the lack of a locking tailgate release handle as standard fare seems Ultra Bean-Counter. The Cargo Convenience Group includes an under-rail box bedliner and utility rails with movable cleats. There are additional hold-down spots throughout the box. The rear seat is one of the easiest to flip up for cargo, with no additional levers involved.

The mill

The 4.7-litre mill seems to get swallowed up early by the firewall. Still, there is an abundance of easily serviceable parts, as well as well-positioned filler necks. Headlamp pods appear to require removal for bulb replacement. The hood is supported by two beefy struts, easily closed and opened by one hand.

The Verdict

The capability of the Dakota in 4X4 Trim is not in question. The larger concerns surround the complete and utter lack of interior inspiration and functionality. There is little Truk Shui at work here. 3 stars.

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