Review: There are a lot of reasons to like small trucks. They're
easier to park. They get better gas mileage. They feel more nimble on
the road. Unfortunately, the gap between small trucks and their
full-size siblings is growing wider every year. The big trucks are
constantly being redesigned and improved to be more powerful, more
capable, more refined and more comfortable. They have to because the
competition is so intense.
The little trucks,
though, look lazy in comparison. Thus it is with the latest Dodge
Dakota, a less-than-full-sized truck that doesn't live up to its full
potential. Like the Ford Ranger and Chevy Colorado, it's stayed
surprisingly unchanged, while the rest of the truck world has gone
through a revolution.
That doesn't make it a
bad truck. From a usability perspective, how it's built to do a job,
like a giant tool, it's actually a very smart design, with a good
combination of power, payload capacity and handsome looks that make it a
great substitute for the giant pickups.
Take the Dakota's
engine. While the base engine is a 3.7-liter V6, it's also available
with a 4.7-liter Magnum V8 that makes 302 horsepower and 329 pound-feet
That's not little-truck
power. That's big, tire-burning, boat-towing power that you'd usually
only find in big pickups, full-size SUVs and muscle cars. In the
smaller, lighter Dakota, it's wicked fast.
Better yet, that means
this little truck can tow up to 7,200 pounds and carry up to 1,810
pounds of payload. Both numbers are the best of any mid-size truck,
which makes you wonder why most people get full-size trucks when one
like this is more than capable of doing the job.
But once you climb into
the cab of a new, full-size truck, you know exactly why. While the
Dakota has good performance and capability, it's light years behind the
big trucks in terms of refinement and comfort.
For starters, the
interior has the kind of cheap, built-to-a-price feeling that would have
been acceptable 10 years ago, but not today, when it's obvious Dodge can
do a lot better than this.
The Ram feels like a
luxury car in comparison, with softer materials, better construction, a
quieter cabin and smoother ride. And when you factor in the huge Ram's
cheaper base price, $20,610 compared with $22,755 for the smaller
Dakota, it's a wonder that anyone still buys the smaller truck.
Gas mileage doesn't
give the Dakota a big advantage either. The base Dakota and Ram models
are both rated for the exact same mileage on the highway, 20 mpg. In
town, the Dakota does get the advantage of a single mile per gallon, 15
in the smaller truck compared to 14 in the big one.
If you've got to drive
a mid-size truck, the Dakota makes sense. It has the right power, makes
all the right noises and looks fantastic, with sharper, sportier lines
than the big honkin' pickups.
What was tested?
The 2010 Dodge Dakota TRX4 4x4 with a base price of $31,365. Options on
the test truck: The Navigation system for $1,445, paint upgrade for
$225, premium sound package for $1,100, trailer tow group for $345,
bedliner for $245 and the extra security package for $640. Total MSRP
price as tested including the $740 destination charge came to $36,105.
Why avoid it?
The newly updated Ram is a vastly better truck. The Dakota's interior
quality, ride and efficiency are a little out of date.
Why buy it? You
like the look and feel of a mid-size truck that can perform almost as
well as the big boys.
By Derek Price ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
The Bottom Line:
The 2010 Dodge Dakota looks like a trimmed-down version of the new Ram,
plus the smaller Dakota gets better gas mileage, can tow over 7,000
pounds and still fit in your garage. While the Dakota's interior feels a
little dated, the overall truck is very capable for any weekend warriors
yard work, home improvement and towing requirements.
Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
“Tony the Car Guy”
is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay
Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to
TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at
And remember: “ You Are
what you Drive ”
RAM Home Page
Column Name: The Dakota
performs almost as well as the big boys
Topic: The 2010 RAM
Dakota TRX4 4x4
Word Count: 784
Photo Caption: The 2010
RAM Dakota TRX4 4x4
Photo Credits: RAM
Dakota Internet Media
Series #: 2010 - 42
the Microsoft Word version here:
2010 RAM Dakota TRX4
Download the Original Image File here:
2010 RAM Dakota TRX4 4x4