2008 Dodge Dakota

J.D. Power Award Recipient
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14 CITY / 19 HWY
Overall Quality
Overall Performance and Design
Predicted Reliability


What Changed for 2008:
  • New 4.7-liter V-8 engine

  • New fascias, restyled grille with fog lamps

  • New chrome body side molding, grille and rear bumper

  • New spoiler

  • New instrument panel, center console, accent finishes, and heated seats available

  • New features (built-in cargo box, utility rails, under-seat storage)

  • Remote vehicle starter
Dakota, first introduced as a 1987 midsize pickup model, is now in its third generation. For 2008, Dodge amps up Dakota's performance with a new 4.7-liter V-8 Flex Fuel engine, which can run on E85 ethanol fuel, classifying it as a Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV). The Dakota Crew Cab has the most interior room in its class, Dodge claims, with 37 cubic feet, and seating for up to six. Dakota also has the largest standard cargo bed in its class, and best-in-class towing capability (up to 7050 pounds), according to the automaker.

Model Lineup
For 2008, the Dodge Dakota lineup includes two body styles-Crew Cab and Extended Cab-and six trim levels: ST, SXT, SLT, TRX, Sport and Laramie. All are available in 2- or 4-wheel drive (2WD or 4WD). There are two cargo bed options: in the Extended Cab, the cargo bed is the longest standard in class at 78 inches, while the Crew Cab has a 64-inch cargo bed. Both feature built-in utility rails and dual-position tailgate. New exterior styling includes new front fascias with available fog lamps, sleek fenders, and rear spoiler with catwalk protection.

Interior features on the 2008 Dodge Dakota include a new instrument panel, center console, accent finishes, and under-seat storage with rear seats folded. New interior styling features white-faced gauges that turn blue in the dark for improved visibility and glare-free driving; radio and temperature control encased in painted aluminum alloy (SLT, TRX) or painted silver (Sport and Laramie); and padded armrests.

The TRX4 off-road group includes black fender flares; tow hooks; headlamps with black bezels and interior accents; TRX4 decals; 16-inch cast aluminum wheels; and Rugged Trail tires. An anti-spin differential is available, as is a 3.92 axle ratio (with automatic transmission).

Options include the Full-Swing rear access door (standard on Extended Cab) that opens 170 degrees; heated front seats; heated bench seats; 40/20/40 split-bench front seat with folding center armrests; remote vehicle start; fixed rear window with defroster; steering wheel-mounted audio controls; power sunroof; leather-wrapped steering wheel; under-the-rail bed liner; anti-spin differential rear axle; power steering cooler; engine block heater; heavy-duty engine cooler; auxiliary in-tank transmission oil cooler; rear sliding window; trailer towing package; class IV receiver hitch; and 7-pin wiring harness. Mopar brand accessories are available, including chrome tubular side steps; fiberglass tonneau cover; 18-inch cast aluminum wheels; hood scoops; bed extender; chrome front air deflector; and fuel filler door. A variety of wheel options are standard or available, from 16-inch to 18-inch, including 18-inch black painted aluminum wheels (optional on Sport), and 18-inch chrome cast aluminum wheels (optional on Laramie and SLT).

The standard powerplant in the 2008 Dodge Dakota is a 3.7-liter V-6 engine that delivers 210 hp at 5200 rpm and 235 lb.-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm. Power is transferred through a 6-speed manual transmission (standard on all V-6 engines except Sport and Laramie). A 4-speed automatic transmission is available. The all-new 4.7-liter V-8 engine with Flex Fuel (capable of operating on E85 ethanol fuel and classified as an FFV), delivers 290 hp at 5600 rpm and 320 lb.-ft. of torque at 3900 rpm. This is a 25-percent increase in horsepower and 10-percent increase in torque, Dodge claims. Power is transferred through the standard 6-speed manual transmission, while a 5-speed automatic transmission is available on the V-8. The V-8 engine has an increased compression ratio; new valve-lash adapter system; electronic throttle control; lightweight piston rod assembly; and improved cylinder head port flow and new combustion system. For the 3.7-liter V-6 engine in 2WD models, EPA fuel economy is estimated at 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway for models equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission, and 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway for the 6-speed manual transmission. For 4WD-equipped V-6 engines, the EPA estimates are 14 mpg city/18 mpg highway with the 4-speed automatic transmission, and 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway for the 6-speed manual transmission. As of this writing, the 4.7-liter V-8 engine has not been rated by the EPA.

The 2008 Dodge Dakota has standard advanced multi-stage driver and front passenger air bags and available supplemental side curtain air bags. Crew Cab models have rear head restraints designed for the driver's rearward visibility with foam-padded structure for increased protection. Optional front frame rail tips collapse rearward in a crash to absorb energy and deter force away from the cabin. A rear-wheel anti-lock brake system is standard, and available on models equipped with all-wheel drive. Other safety features include LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren); child-proof rear door locks; tire-pressure-monitoring system; brake-park interlock; traction control; and optional security group with Sentry Key engine immobilization and integrated vehicle alarm. In crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2008 Dakota Crew Cab received a 5-star rating in front- and rear-seat side crash tests, while driver and front passenger frontal tests are still to be rated. In rollover testing, the Crew Cab received a 4-star rating for 2WD and 4WD models. The Extended Cab received a 5-star rating for driver and front passenger front and front-seat side crash testing (rear seat not rated). In rollover testing, the Extended Cab model received a 4-star rating in 2WD and 4WD.

Entertainment choices on the 2008 Dodge Dakota include an AM/FM stereo with in-dash 6-disc DVD/MP3 player; available (6) Alpine speakers; MyGIG multimedia infotainment system with navigation (includes voice-activated navigation with turn-by-turn guidance and real-time traffic reporting via Sirius satellite radio and one-year free subscription; 6.5-inch full-color touch screen display; and DVD playback and integrated USB 2.0 port for downloading and storing digital photos and up to 1600 songs in its 20GB hard drive). U-Connect provides voice-activated calls on Bluetooth-compatible phones. An MP3 player can be stored in the center console and plugged into any 2008 Dakota sound system.

J.D. Power Ratings

Automotive Performance Execution and Layout
Overall Performance and Design?
Features and Instrument Panel?
Initial Quality Study
Body & Interior Quality - Mechanical?
Overall Quality - Design?
Body & Interior Quality - Design?
Overall Quality - Mechanical?
Powertrain Quality - Design?
Features & Accessories Quality - Design?
Powertrain Quality - Mechanical?
Overall Quality?
Features & Accessories Quality - Mechanical?

Power Circle Scoring Legend:

Among the best
Better than most
About average
The rest
*Please note that JDPower.com Power Circle Ratings may not include all information used to determine J.D. Power awards. Learn more about how J.D. Power Ratings are calculated.

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