2007 Dodge Dakota


2007 Dodge Dakota Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2007 Dodge Dakota was new.


Performance: 7.4

Despite the Dakota's offering of four possible power-plants, reviewers generally agree that the only one worth having is its optional 260-horsepower V8 engine. Though its refined power steering and suspension configuration, as well as its large towing capacity, leave many reviewers impressed, its restricting bed size and very basic braking system leave much to be desired.

Even so, Truck Trend asserts, "The Dakota continues to be the only vehicle in its class to offer a V-8 engine, the result of which is class-leading towing and carrying capacity."

Acceleration and Power

Every ST and SLT trim level, as well as the Dakota Laramie Club 4x4, is powered by a standard 3.7L Magnum V6 engine that makes 210-horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 235 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. While auto reviewers concede that the V6 is adequate for daily driving, many agree that it isn't strong enough to replace a heavy-duty workhorse. According to Consumer Guide, the V6 engine is "underpowered for anything but daily commuting and light loads." Cars.com asserts that the "V-6 Dakota is overtaxed -- short on power and sluggish for passing and merging."

The Dakota Laramie Club 4x2, as well as the Laramie Quad Cab 4x2 and 4x4, is powered by a standard 4.7L V8 Flexible Fuel Vehicle engine that makes 235-horsepower at 4,600 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. Reviewers are altogether unable to reach consensus on this engine's abilities. Automobile Magazine refers to it as a "delight" and the  Detroit News says it left them "impressed." Cars.com adds that it "delivers a steady, satisfying stream of power." Nevertheless, auto reviewers at Kelley Blue Book assert, "While it felt strong enough to tow a trailer, we weren't overwhelmed with its power." According to Car and Driver, the Dakota's "horsepower-burdening weight" is to blame for having "squashed the life out of the powertrain." This engine, as well as an optional 4.7L Magnum V8 engine that makes 230-horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 290 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm, is available for all ST Dakota trims.

However, most reviewers say that the top-of-the-line High Output 4.7 liter V8, which is tuned for more power than the other V8 engines, is "[t]he best engine for this truck," as MSN says. This engine makes 260 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Optional for all SLT and Laramie trim levels of the Dodge Dakota, this High Output engine impresses reviewers. In fact, MSN reports that none of the Dakota's other engines compare to "the sporty engine note and personality of the top, high output V8." While the Arizona Republic asserts that it has "plenty of power for brisk acceleration and hill climbing," Truck Trend claims that it has the "growling rumble that'll make you want to risk getting a few speeding tickets."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the base Dodge Dakota 4x2 trim level maintains a fuel economy of 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. The base Dakota 4x4 trim level similarly makes 15 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. Though Dodge recommends premium gasoline for its 260-horsepower V8, its 4.7L Flexible Fuel Vehicle engine runs on both gasoline and E85. Still, MSN warns, Dakotas "aren't exactly fuel sippers."

All ST and SLT Dakota trim levels are outfitted with a six-speed manual transmission. While reviewers at Motor Trend assert that "the manual tranny makes the most of the V-6," AutoWeek says, "We liked the feel and operation of the six-speed manual, despite a bit of hunting and pecking for the right notch at times." Cars.com adds, "Dodge's manual gearbox is pickup-truck typical with its slightly mushy feel, but it works with a well-behaved, easy-engaging clutch."

With the exception of the Laramie Club Cab 4x4, which is equipped with a standard four-speed automatic transmission, all Laramie trim levels feature a five-speed overdrive automatic transmission. Both the four-speed and five-speed automatic transmissions are also available as options for the ST Dakota. While the Arizona Republic complains of automatic transmission shifts being "unacceptably clunky," most other auto writers disagree. In fact, the Boston Globe says that its optional five-speed automatic transmission's "smoothness in shifting, coupled with its hefty engine" make the Dakota "an almost ideal vehicle for any potential trucker whose needs require strength, but not necessarily the bulk of larger trucks such as the Ram series." Motor Trend adds, "The automatic is responsive and refined, shifting gears with little fanfare."

Handling and Braking

Reviewers are generally pleased with the way the 2007 Dodge Dakota handles. "The Dakota's road manners are admirable, thanks to fine rack-and-pinion steering and very rigid hydroformed chassis rails, which impart a degree of solidity and quietness not generally associated with pickups," says Automobile Magazine. Car and Driver adds, "Although there is some floatiness to the chassis, the Dakota feels lighter and more nimble than its weight suggests, and the front end doesn't plow oafishly like most of the others do."

The Dakota's power rack-and-pinion steering design impresses most auto writers. According to the Boston Globe, "Steering was nicely light at slow speeds and in big parking lots, where maneuverability is a must. It felt confidently heavier at higher speeds, with excellent wheel-to-steering-wheel feedback." In fact, Consumer Guide asserts that its "steering has direct feel" and "lacks typical truck sloppiness." Altogether, Kelley Blue Book claims that its power steering is "well-balanced."

Most reviewers are just as enthusiastic about the Dakota's independent front and live axle rear heavy duty suspension system, which includes front and rear heavy duty shock absorbers, as well as a front stabilizer bar. "Out on the highway, a nicely tuned suspension delivers a comfortable ride that won't jar any fillings loose nor bounce you into a state of motion sickness," says Kelley Blue Book. Cars.com explains, "The suspension reacts quickly to bumps and recovers promptly." Though many reviewers, like Consumer Guide, note "some choppiness over broken surfaces in 4WD models," most concede that it's generally "smooth and composed in any configuration."

While the Dakota Laramie Club 4x4 comes equipped with standard rear extra heavy duty shock absorbers, a rear stabilizer bar is optional for all SLT and Laramie trims.

Every 2007 Dakota maintains front disc brakes and rear anti-lock drum brakes. A four-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS), however, is optional and, according to Consumer Guide, "a worthwhile investment over [the] rear-only arrangement." To many reviewers' dismay, neither traction nor stability control are offered.


The Dodge Dakota ST Club Cab 4x2 (base model) maintains a payload capacity of 1,710 pounds. Maximum capacity, however, ranges from1,320 pounds to 1,720 pounds, depending on what trim level drivers choose.

While both Club and Quad Cab trim levels maintain a wall-to-wall truck bed width of 59.6 inches (wheel well to wheel well: 45.2- inches), the Club Cab's bed is 78.8 inches long and the Quad Cab's bed is 64.9 inches long. While MSN boasts that the Dakota "can do many full-size pickup jobs," Newsday warns that its dimensions are "too short, obviously, for 8-foot-long materials" and unable to "accommodate 4-foot-wide sheet goods like drywall flat between its wheel wells." Its 17.6-inch bed height, however, allows owners to "load from the side with ease," says Kelley Blue Book.


While the Dodge Dakota ST Club Cab 4x2 (base model) maintains a standard towing capacity of 3,250 pounds, depending on what trim level drivers choose, towing capacities can range from 2,000 pounds to 4,450 pounds. When properly equipped with Dodge's "Trailor Tow" package, this range is increased from 6,700 pounds to 8,500 pounds. "That's pretty good tug for a 'mid-size truck," says the Boston Globe. "The Dakota has serious capabilities for carrying or towing heavy loads up steep hills, which makes it a true truck and an excellent working companion but not particularly good as a casual driver," adds A Car Place.

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