Dodge created the mid-size pickup class in the spring of 1986 when they
introduced the 1987 Dakota. Up until then there were two choices if you
wanted a pickup truck. A full size truck like the Dodge Ram, F-150, and
Chevrolet / GMC half tons, or compact trucks like those from Toyota or
Nissan, plus Dodge had the D Ram 50, which was a rebadged Mitsubishi.
The creation of the Dakota was a gamble at the
time. Was there really a need for a mid-size pickup? Yes, and Dodge was
on the money. The Dakota was a success right from the start, filling the
gap for those that needed more carrying capacity than the mini-trucks
provided, while still small enough to be easily maneuverable. In 1997
the Dakota was completely redesigned, and in 2005 the current design
Dodge wisely chose to incorporate a family
resemblance in the new Dakota, which gives the mid-size truck a bigger,
more aggressive look reminiscent of its full-sized sibling, the Dodge
Ram Pickup Truck. There are three distinct Dakota models, the ST, SLT,
and Laramie. Each is available with 4x2 or 4x4, Club Cab, or Quad Cab.
In addition there are four trim packages available. Now there is a
Dakota for just about everyone.
The TRX (on 4x2 models) has unique 5-spoke, 16-inch
aluminum wheels, Goodyear Wrangler off-road tires, tow hooks,
limited-slip differential, and a TRX decal on the cargo box. TRX4
Off-Road is available on the SLT and Laramie 4x4 models, which adds
painted shocks, increased ride height, skid plates, slush mats,
heavy-duty service package, and adds a TRX4 Off-Road decal on the cargo
box to the equipment of the TRX list.
The R/T Dakota is based on the SLT and comes with a
4.7-liter V8, 17-inch aluminum wheels, hood scope, sport appearance
package, body color grille surround, chrome exhaust tip, and special R/T
interior appointments. The Night Runner model is based on the SLT and
comes with black chrome grille surround, 17-inch black chrome wheels,
sport appearance package, and specific Night Runner touches.
I drove a Dakota SLT Quad Cab 4x2, equipped with
the base 3.7-liter, SOHC, 12-valve V6, and four speed automatic
transmission. The Dakota has a wheelbase of 131.3 inches and an overall
length of 218.8 inches regardless of Club Cab or Quad Cab, or 4x2 or
4x4. The difference is in the length of the box, which on the Club Cab
is 6.4 feet versus 5.3 feet on the Quad Cab. The Quad is the way to go
if you regularly carry more than one passenger; it has seating for three
in the back seat, two in total comfort, whereas the Club will seat three
but there is less legroom.
The driversí area is comfortable and appeared
logically laid out. The controls were where they should have been, and
they were man-sized (or glove-sized). Trucks especially should have
controls that are easy to use when wearing gloves.
The back seat is comfortable although the seat back
is a bit too upright for me. I spent a fair amount of time riding in the
back seat of my brother-in-lawís 2005 Dakota while on vacation and I
would have like a slightly reclined seat back.
The V6 is adequate with 210 hp and 235 lb.-ft of
torque. The V6 can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or 4-speed
automatic transmission. I drove the automatic. The plus side of the V6
is fuel economy, 17-city and 22-highway with the automatic, slightly
lower with the manual. Load capacity varies depending on trim but figure
around 1500 lbs. for a 4x2 model. Towing capacity with the V6 hits a
high of 4,900 lbs. with an optional 3.92:1 rear axle ratio.
If you need more oomph there are two optional V8s
available, the 230 hp, 4.7-liter; and the High Output, 260 hp 4.7-liter.
The V8s are available with either the 6-speed manual or a 5-speed
The Dakota I drove was a pleasant enough pickup
truck. One big advantage of mini- and mid-size trucks is that the box is
an easy reach. For me this is not usually a problem, but for my dog
jumping into some of the behemoths I drive itís hard and I have to help
her. With the Dakotaís low 31.9-inch tailgate load height itís an easy
jump. If you have ever loaded books of sheetrock into a four-foot high
pickup bed, you know what I am talking about.
A lot of people buy pickup trucks instead of cars,
people like my brother-in-law. They feel safer, because they sit up
higher with a better view and command of the road, instead of being down
low with everyone else.
The Dakota is a good choice for those who want a
pickup truck but do not want to move up to the hard to park full-size
trucks. You do not need a stepladder to get into the Dakota either,
which is a blessing for those of us who are getting older.
Price is a big attraction for the Dakota too. The
lowest price Dakota is a ST Club Cab 4x2 at just $18,790, while the
highest price is the Laramie Quad Cab 4x4 at $29,510. You can drive the
price up with options and special packages but these are very decent and
very competitive prices to start with.
The 2006 Dodge Dakota pickup, a mid sized truck at
a mid sized price. By
Bruce Hotchkiss © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Dodge Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
there is a Dakota for just about everyone
2006 Dodge Dakota Pickup Truck
2006 Dodge Dakota Pickup Truck
Dodge Internet Media
2005 - 63
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2006 Dodge Dakota