The Ultimate Dodge Dakota Page

The Dodge Dakota pickup truck drove onto the scene in late 1986, when Chrysler released the first model for 1987. This mid-sized pickup truck was the first of its kind, designed to be a compromise between the compact and full-sized trucks that were already on the market. Initially, the Dodge Dakota did not attract significant attention, but it slowly gained traction with consumers. Chrysler manufactured multiple generations of Dodge Dakota pickup trucks. The first generation included trucks between the years of 1987 and 1996, and second-generation Dodge Dakotas were built between 1997 and 2004. The third generation was relatively short-lived, only including model years 2005 and 2006. In 2007, the fourth-generation Dodge Dakota was unveiled, but by 2011, this capable truck model had run its course.

Dodge Dakota Through the Years

1987: The original Dodge Dakota offered drivers two different wheelbases, at 111.9 and 123.9 inches. Consumers also could choose either a 6.5-foot or 8-foot bed. Chrysler created three trim levels for Dakota trucks: the base, SE, and LE. The 1987 model had a two-door cab. Engine options included a 2.2-liter or a 3.9-liter V6, and consumers had the choice of a standard five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. Those preferring four-wheel drive could have it with the V6 engine. The first Dakotas were 185.9 inches or 204.4 inches long, 68.4 inches or 68.1 inches wide, and 64.2 inches or 67.1 inches high.

1988: Chrysler was quite satisfied with 1987 sales, so the 1988 model did not have significant upgrades. The biggest change with the 1988 Dodge Dakota involved the addition of single-point throttle-body fuel injection to the V6 engine.

1989: In 1989, Chrysler decided to shake things up a bit. This model year introduced the first convertible pickup truck in modern history. This model had a few logistics issues, with the top stacking onto part of the pickup bed and a roll bar sitting over the rear bulkhead. Maneuvering the top was a little challenging, and consumers weren't fond of the plastic rear window. Another 1989 option was the limited-edition Shelby Dakota, which featured a 5.2-liter fuel-injected V8 engine, providing the truck with enhanced power.

1990: With the 1990 model, Dodge Dakota pickup trucks were available in a Club Cab version. The wheelbase of these trucks extended to 130.9 inches, and the cabs were 19 inches longer than the regular cabs. The second row of seats was full width in the Club Cab trucks, but the trucks remained two-door. This model year was two-wheel-drive.

1991: Chrysler made the 5.2-liter V8 engine standard in 1991. With the larger engine firmly in place, some modifications were necessary to the nose and grille of the truck to accommodate more bulk under the hood.

1992: Engine modifications were the headliner in 1992, including improvements to the fuel injection systems and the cylinder heads. Trucks in this model year were faster and more powerful.

1993: Chrysler kept the status quo under the hood in 1993, but the bucket seats were redesigned for comfort. Consumers also had the option to add four-wheel anti-lock brakes in this model year.

1994: Slight modifications to engine outputs for both the V6 and V8 occurred in 1994 due to the use of a new camshaft. This Dodge Dakota model also introduced the driver's-side airbag and an additional brake light on the tailgate.

1995: Chrysler kept the Dodge Dakota essentially unchanged in 1995.

1996: Modest trim and color changes were rolled out in 1996.

1997: The introduction of the second-generation Dodge Dakota was a major event in 1997. The outer appearance of the Dakota was significantly updated, and consumers had the same three wheelbases from which to choose. Engine options included a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 3.9-liter V6, and 5.2-liter V8. Chrysler paid attention to the interior designs, with cab comfort and ride quality improving with the second-generation trucks. Dual front airbags were standard, and consumers now had the option for two front bucket seats or a fold-down front bench seat to seat a third front-seat passenger. The truck had an optional sound system that featured a CD player. The lengths and heights of Dakota models varied depending on the cab style chosen, but all of them had a wider stance than the first-generation Dakotas, measuring 71.5 inches wide.

1998: A new limited-edition Dakota emerged in 1998: the R/T. The R/T package featured a 5.9-liter V8 engine, and both regular and Club Cab styles were available with this engine. R/Ts all came with a four-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. The R/T package also included updated brakes, a special performance exhaust system, a performance axle, and special cast aluminum wheels. A few suspension modifications were also present in this model year.

1999: Consumers had a new color option in 1999 called Solar Yellow. Additional options rolled out in 1999 included audio controls on the steering wheel and a console mounted on the headliner.

2000: The four-door Quad Cab was unveiled in 2000, and consumers appreciated the enhanced comfort and space in this truck. The extra space in the cab came from the bed of the truck, with the bed length shrinking to 63.1 inches. The old V8 engine was replaced with a 4.7-liter V8, which promised better fuel efficiency. This engine was available with both automatic and manual transmissions.

2001 and 2002: Chrysler did not revamp the Dodge Dakota at all with the 2001 and 2002 models.

2003: In 2003, Chrysler retired the four-cylinder engine in Dodge Dakota pickup trucks. This was the last year of the old V6 and R/T V8 engines, which were replaced with newer models. The V6 became standard with this year.

2004: With 2004, the second generation of Dodge Dakota drew to a close. This model year offered a new 3.7-liter V6 engine along with the previously introduced V8.

2005: One of the most obvious changes with the first model year of the third-generation Dodge Dakota was its increased dimensions: 218.8 inches long, 71.7 inches wide, and either 68.6 or 68.7 inches high depending on the cab style, sitting on a 131.3-inch wheelbase. This model also included a new front and rear suspension with rack-and-pinion steering. Revamped styling gave a fresh feel to this truck. Notable changes involved a larger grille and flared fenders. Consumers had choices between a V6 and two different V8 engines. Along with both two-wheel and four-wheel drive, this model year was also available in full-time all-wheel drive.

2006: Consumers could get a sunroof and an improved audio system with their 2006 Dakotas. Those choosing a Club Cab could open the rear doors further for easier loading. The R/T was back in this model year, and a TRX package was also rolled out that offered off-road tires and wheels. The R/T featured some appearance modifications such as a hood scoop, a new gauge cluster, and new side stripes. Consumers had options for both two-wheel and four-wheel drive.

2007: In 2007, buyers could add an optional remote starter to their truck packages. Flex-fuel capability and a dual-position tailgate were also offered for the first time.

2008: The 4.7-liter V8 was enhanced with more power in 2008, boosting it to 302 horsepower. This model year also saw a new instrument panel and changes to the front-end styling. Additional options included heated seats and a new multimedia system with both a hard drive for music storage and on-board navigation. New trim levels and a built-in cargo box were also introduced this year.

2009: The Dodge Dakota trim levels were streamlined in this year, leaving the base model, the Big Horn package, the off-road-focused TRX4, and the relatively luxurious Laramie.

2010: By this time, the Dakota was beginning to run out of steam. The most notable change in this year was to the nameplate, as Dodge spun off its truck manufacturing into the Ram division, so the Dodge Dakota would now be known as the Ram Dakota.

2011: The final Dakota was produced in August of 2011.

Dodge Dakota Images

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Dodge Dakota Discussion

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