When it was introduced in the late '80s, the Dodge Dakota's oversized dimensions made it an interesting choice among more traditional compact and full-size trucks. This midsize configuration has continued on through successive generations, as has the truck's generally solid combination of power, utility and style. For much of this decade, the Dakota has been one of our favored choices for a compact or midsize truck.
The 2007 Dodge Dakota, which represents the vehicle's third generation, features a hydroformed fully boxed frame that provides eight times more torsional rigidity than the previous design. A coil-over front suspension design and rack-and-pinion steering give the truck its nimble, carlike feel. The standard Club Cab (extended cab) comes equipped with four doors, forward-facing rear seats and a 6-foot-6-inch bed, while the Quad Cab (crew cab) model utilizes four full-size doors and a 5-foot-4-inch bed. A large crosshair grille is prominently affixed to the front of the truck, followed by the familiar dropped-fender look popularized by the previous-generation Ram.
The Dakota is aimed at pickup truck drivers who want to use their truck for work and as a daily driver, but do not want to spend the extra money for a full-size pickup's towing capability or the accompanying pricey optional features. For this purpose, it works well, and those smitten with its muscular style will no doubt be happy with a purchase. However, buyers should be aware that the Dakota does fall short in a few areas such as price, interior quality and fuel economy. You'll certainly want to check out the class-leading Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma before making any final decisions.
The 2007 Dodge Dakota midsize pickup truck is available in two body styles. The extended cab (Club Cab) has swing-out rear access doors and a 6.4-foot bed. The more spacious crew cab (Quad Cab) has four full-size doors, room for six adults and a 5.3-foot cargo bed. There are three trim levels: ST, SLT and Laramie. The spartan ST comes standard with cloth seats, air-conditioning, a CD player with an auxiliary jack, and in the Quad Cab, folding 60/40-split rear seats. The SLT is a better choice for most buyers, as it also has alloy wheels, cruise control, Sirius Satellite Radio, rear jump seats in the Club Cab and power windows, mirrors and locks. The top-of-the-line Dakota Laramie adds automatic headlamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather seats, an upgraded Alpine audio system with an in-dash CD changer, remote vehicle start and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
A variety of options are also available for the Dakota. The TRX Package aims to give two-wheel-drive trucks the look of the four-wheel-drive trucks (4WD), while the TRX Off-Road is available for 4WD models; it includes a suspension tuned for off-road use, skid plates and a shorter rear-axle ratio. Other upgrades include leather seating (SLT models), a sunroof and a variety of appearance packages.
The Dakota has a crisp, attractive interior design with simple, easy-to-reach controls and ample storage and cupholders. Stylish touches like aluminum trim and white-faced gauges help, but overall materials quality is unimpressive next to the competition, given the large expanses of low-grade plastic. The cabin is quite roomy, but sizing up to the Quad Cab is a must for carrying four adults.
The 2007 Dodge Dakota offers three engine options. The base 3.7-liter V6 produces 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. There are two V8 options: a 4.7-liter that makes 230 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque and a high-output 4.7-liter that is good for 260 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The V6 is coupled to a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, with an available five-speed automatic for the V8. Full-time four-wheel drive is available, as well as the usual 2WD and part-time 4WD configurations. Towing capacity is 7,150 pounds with the high-output V8 engine.
All of the engines offer adequate power, but opting for one of the V8s is a must if you plan to do any serious towing or hauling. Even then, only the high-output V8 matches the performance of the powerful V6 engines from Nissan and Toyota. The 2007 Dodge Dakota offers a smooth, quiet ride at any speed, and the cabin is well insulated from wind and road noise. Body roll is minimal even around tight turns, and the Dakota maintains its composure well on harsher terrain thanks to its well-tuned suspension and stiff frame.
Rear-wheel antilock brakes are standard on the Dodge Dakota; four-wheel ABS is optional. Full-length side-curtain airbags are also optional. In NHTSA crash tests, the extended-cab truck earned a perfect five stars for driver protection and four stars for front-passenger protection; the crew-cab Dakota earned five stars for both. In side-impact tests of the crew cab, five stars were awarded for both front and rear passengers. The Dakota scored an "Acceptable" rating (second best) in IIHS frontal-offset crash testing.
For 2007, the Dodge Dakota adds some thoughtful new touches, like optional remote start and stain-resistant seat fabric. For added versatility, all Dakotas now have a standard dual-position tailgate. Mechanically, the truck is pretty much unchanged save for flex-fuel capability for the 4.7-liter V8 engine, which means it can run on gasoline or the E85 ethanol/gasoline blend.