What We Know So Far



Those who have fond memories of the Dodge Dakota that disappeared in 2011 may have been happy to hear rumors that Ram is considering reviving the nameplate on a midsize pickup truck. We originally speculated that it would debut in 2021 and offer a cheaper and smaller offering than the half-ton Ram 1500. Unfortunately, the revived Dakota didn’t materialize. While it may have shared some components with its larger sibling, we thought it would have been smarter for Ram to base it on the Jeep Gladiator, which earned a spot on our 2020 10Best list after the Jeep ‘s debut. The resurrected Dakota would have competed with the Ford Ranger, the Chevrolet Colorado, the GMC Canyon and the Toyota Tacoma. While we’re hopeful that a Dakota can still join the midsize pickup market in the future, we’re not so confident about its reappearance.

what’s new

Had the Dakota launched as expected, it would have been a new offering for the Ram brand. The rumors circulating through the auto industry in 2021 suggested that the Dakota would be built either alongside the Gladiator in Toledo, Ohio, or at Ram’s factory in Saltillo, Mexico. (We’ve heard both rumors.)

Prices and which one to buy

Ram never got around to announcing how much the Dakota would cost or what trim levels would be offered. We think its base price would have been significantly lower than the Gladiator’s, which started at $35,040 at the time. A starting price somewhere around $26,000 would have put it in line with key rivals like the Ranger and the Colorado.

Engine, transmission and performance

No matter if the Dakota was a smaller version of the Ram 1500 or a rebuilt Gladiator, its choice of engine options would have been pretty simple. While there was virtually no chance that a V-8 would have been in the cards, the 3.6-liter V-6 used in Stellantis’ North American lineup was a sure bet, likely paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and both rear and four wheel drive. Another potential engine option was the brand’s recently introduced diesel 3.0-liter V-6, which was good for 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. Surely the Dakota would have had an off-road oriented model to challenge similar offerings from its midsize rivals. We can imagine a Rebel trim level with rugged looks, beefier suspension, underbody skid plates and knobbier tires.

Towing and payload capacity

Based on the Gladiator’s towing and payload ratings, the Dakota might tow up to 7650 pounds and haul up to 1600 pounds in its cargo bed. However, these maximums were never confirmed by Ram.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

Neither the EPA nor Ram ever released any information on fuel economy estimates for the Dakota. If plans for the truck ever go through, we’ll update this story with calculated fuel economy once it’s published.

Interior, comfort and cargo

We suspect the Dakota would have had similar interior styling to the Ram 1500, though it probably wouldn’t have lived up to that pickup’s luxury standards. Still, the smaller pickup probably would have provided a plethora of standard and optional amenities. It may have included a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, wireless charging, and more. The range would probably have offered a crew cab and a smaller extended cab. However, since even the roomiest midsize trucks – aside from the Honda Ridgeline – don’t have very spacious back seats, we doubt the Dakota would have been any different.

Infotainment and connectivity

While the Ram 1500 offers a large vertically oriented 12.0-inch touchscreen, we’re not sure that infotainment system would be shared with the Dakota. The company’s Uconnect infotainment system would likely include desirable content such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Base models would probably have a more basic setup, but would still have the above features.

Safety and Driver Assistance Features

The Dakota would likely have been equipped with a variety of standard and optional driver-assistance technology. The grid would likely have included features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, and more.

Warranty and Maintenance Cover

The Dakota would have had an average limited and powertrain warranty compared to its midsize rivals. The Canyon, Colorado and Tacoma all have complimentary maintenance, something the Ram brand doesn’t currently offer.

  • Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance