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Heres a review from Autoweek:
2005 Dodge Dakota Club Cab Laramie


Middle of the Road: Dodge’s perennially popular midsize Dakota does one better
AUTOWEEK
Published Date: 4/4/05

LIKES
Smooth ride
Great seats
Available V8
DISLIKES
Could have more low-end
Big blind spots
Numb steering
OTHERS CONSIDERED
Toyota Tacoma
Chevrolet Colorado
Dodge Ram


When it comes to a preference for “midsize” pickups, the Dodge Dakota has enjoyed pick-o’-litter status among truck buyers for quite a while—of course, we’re talking about a pretty small litter here. Until General Motors replaced its Chevrolet S10 and GMC Sonoma last year with the larger Colorado and Canyon models, the Dakota dwarfed its rivals in size and power and owned sole title to the quasi segment.


Yet the buyer population for small pickups has all but evaporated these last few years. Ford (down 52 percent) and GM (down 44 percent) have watched sales of their small-truck wares steadily dwindle over the last six years. The Dakota hasn’t seen quite the precipitous fall as its crosstown rivals, but Dodge has still witnessed a full 30 percent of Dakota sales dry up during that same period. And the biggest ignominy? Sales of the biggest Japanese player, the Toyota Tacoma, have held perfectly steady, even trending slightly upward over the same period.


So it must be of great relief to Dodge that sales of its newly redesigned Dakota are already outpacing last year’s—and, perhaps more importantly, that readers who responded to our AutoFile survey have little but rave things to say about their preferred midsizer.


The 2005 Dakota rides like no Dodge truck before it, with a more advanced coilover independent front suspension working hard to replace the old model’s stiff ride and trucky handling with a much more placid performance. Not only do owners appreciate the improvement, so did our track testers. When last we tested the Dakota, a 4.7-liter V8-powered Quad Cab back in 2000, we said the truck “lumbered and howled” through the tight slalom course while running 39.2 mph. This go-around, we found the truck flopped a bit on its tall tires, but it also felt much easier to direct through with a steady hand on the steering wheel and small squirts of the throttle around the cones. The new truck bested the old with ease, running through at 40.6 mph.


And while the suspension revisions do little to improve the Dakota’s skidpad numbers—both the old and new managed 0.77 g—over the road the difference couldn’t feel more marked.


The truck feels very well isolated, even over the roughest patches. It displays but a minor amount of freeway hop and feels just slightly floaty over undulations in the roadway. One staffer even described the Dakota as having an “outstanding ride for a truck, and even for many cars.” And more than anything, owners praised the truck for its smooth ride.


Some owners, however, would have liked more power than the 4.7-liter V8 turns out, though we found the Dakota’s straight-line performance more than adequate given its 230 horses and 295 lb-ft of torque (a 260-hp version of the 4.7 is available). Compared to the Dakota we tested in 2000, with its 235 hp and 295 lb-ft, the new model managed to knock half a second off its 0-to-60-mph time, coming in at 8.74 seconds, and that’s with 5 fewer ponies. Similarly, the 2005 truck lowers the quarter-mile time by 0.26 second, passing the mark in 16.67 seconds at 82.2 mph.


The new truck stops much better as well, its robust front-disc, rear-drum setup pulling the Dakota to a standstill from 60 mph in just 129 feet, 16 feet shorter than our last test, though the truck’s beefier 275/60R-17s surely must take some responsibility for that improvement vs. the old truck’s 235/75R-15s.


Owners and testers alike did point to a few areas where the Dakota could stand improvement. The column-mounted shifter tends to hinder access to the radio, and reflections of the instruments on the truck’s side glass cause undue distraction. The wide B-pillars tend to compromise the truck’s outward visibility, creating overly large blind spots on either side, while the steering feels way too numb, often making it difficult to tell just what the front wheels are doing.


One staffer, voicing a minority opinion, went so far as to claim “the Tacoma simply beats the Dakota in every subjective category,” but most owners who cross-shopped both seemed more than pleased with their choice.


OWNERS SAY...


Compared to my 2002 R/T, I adore this next-gen Dakota. It rides smoothly and comfortably, and the power is great. The instrument panel and gauges are nicely laid out, as is the interior, and I find the cabin design pleasing. The seats are fantastic, and the interior room is very good overall. I am just disappointed there are no lowering kits available in the aftermarket. -Larry Partridge, Houston


There are substantial improvements here over the 2000 Dakota Crew Cab I owned. I also had an ’02 Dakota and* found the seats much too spongy. The truck handles nicely and rides much better than the model it replaces. All around, this is a great vehicle and I have no negative things to say about it. -Bob Sowle, Maumee, Ohio


I looked at the Hemi-powered Dodge Ram regular cab, but for the same money I got a four-door truck with all the power goodies, and it still had a V8 under the hood. I chose the Dakota over the competition because of the warranty, the way it drove, and the fact it’s the only midsize truck with a V8. It also has the best fit-and-finish of all the Dodge trucks, and is the smoothest-riding and best handler overall. The 4.7-liter V8, while strong, needs more power and torque. There is a high-output version, but it’s an expensive upgrade. That said, when Dodge built the Dakota, it had no intention of offering the Hemi. The Ram, Durango and Grand Cherokee all get it, why not Dakota? -Steven Carter, Minot, N.D.


The new truck is a big improvement over past Dakotas, many of which I have owned. The interior environment is comfortable, and the truck handles itself very well on the road. The 4.7-liter V8 has plenty of power for towing, and I’ve managed to average around 20 mpg on the highway. However, it is not so efficient around town. I’m so impressed with Dodge trucks that I didn’t consider anything else except possibly its big brother Ram. -George Holbrook, Monroe, Ore.

VEHICLE SPECS AND INFO


MANUFACTURER INFO
Dodge Division
DaimlerChrysler Corp.
1000 Chrysler Drive East
Auburn Hills MI 48326
Customer assistance: (800) 992-1997
Internet address: dodge.com
Country of origin: United States
Number of dealers: 2900 (est.)


STICKER
Base (includes*$645 delivery):*$24,984
As tested: $29,574
Owners paid; average:$22,489 to**$29,649; $25,666


OPTIONS AS TESTED
17-inch wheels ($820); 4.7-liter V8 engine ($785); heated leather-trimmed bucket seats ($525); trailer tow group, with heavy-duty engine cooling, transmission oil cooler, power steering cooler, power fold-away heated mirrors, seven-pin wiring harness, 750-amp battery ($525); antilock brakes ($495); side-curtain front and second-row airbags ($495); anti-spin differential ($295); under-rail box bedliner ($245); pearl coat paint ($150); sliding rear window ($140); five-speed automatic transmission ($75); 3.92 axle ratio ($40)


OTHER MAJOR OPTIONS
Uconnect hands-free communication ($275); Sirius satellite radio ($175)


CHASSIS
Body-on-frame, two-door pickup


DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase (in):*131.3
Track (in):*62.8 front,**62.9 rear
Length/width/height (in):218.8/71.7/68.6
Curb weight/GVWR (lbs):4413/6010


CAPACITIES
Fuel (gal): 22.0
Cargo (cu ft): 46.6
Towing (lbs): 7150

ENGINE
Front-longitudinal 4.7-liter/287-cid sohc V8
Horsepower: 230 @ 4600 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 295 @ 3600 rpm
Compression ratio: 9.0:1
Fuel requirement: 87 octane


DRIVETRAIN
Rear-wheel drive
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Final drive ratio: 2.59:1


SUSPENSION
Front: A-arms with coil springs, gas-charged shock absorbers, antiroll bar
Rear: Live axle, multi-leaf two-stage springs, gas-charged shock absorbers, antiroll bar


BRAKES/WHEELS/TIRES
Discs front/drums rear, ABS, aluminum 275/60R-17 Goodyear Eagle RS-A


STANDING-START ACCELERATION
0-60 mph:*8.74 sec
0-100 km/h (62.1 mph):*9.13 sec
0-quarter-mile:*16.67 sec @*82.2 mph


ROLLING ACCELERATION
20-40 mph (first gear):*3.0 sec
40-60 mph (second gear):*4.9 sec
60-80 mph (second*and third gear): 7.1 sec


BRAKING
60 mph-0: 129 ft


HANDLING
490-foot slalom: 40.6 mph
Lateral acceleration (200-foot skidpad):*0.77 g


INTERIOR NOISE (dBA)
Idle: 42
Full throttle: 78
Steady 60 mph: 65


FUEL MILEAGE
EPA combined: 16.90 mpg
AW overall: 15.28 mpg
 
G

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Good review, at least in so much as it's pretty much bang on with my feelings about this category of truck. I would have loved an older Taco, the new taco just didn't fit right for me.

Ah well, I just wished the aftermarket would catch up so I can make it more custom for my wants...
 

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Thanks for posting that article, JohnnyB. I also agree with most it. I have had my 2005 CC for only a week. I am still getting used to it. I think I made the right choice. I also test drove and compared all similar vehicles and my second choice would have been the Tacoma. The Toyotas are priced very high and they hardly budge off the sticker. I feel I got the most for my money with the Dakota. I especially like having a 6.5 foot bed. I will keep everyone updated on the new ride.
 
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