2011 Ram Dakota Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Ram Dakota was new.


Performance: 7.7

Reviewers are excited about the 2011 Ram Dakota’s available V8 engine and its best-in-class towing capacity.  However, with competitors now also offering V8s, that's not the trump card it once was. If you want V8 power, be sure to check out the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado as well.

  • "While the 2011 Dodge Dakota's 3.7-liter V6 is fine for tooling around town, it feels noticeably less robust when driven back-to-back with V6-powered models from Nissan and Toyota." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

All trims come standard with a 3.7-liter V6 engine that makes 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. While auto reviewers concede that the V6 is adequate for daily driving, many agree that it isn't strong enough for heavier towing or hauling. The upgraded Big Horn/Lone Star and Laramie trims come with a 4.7-liter V8 engine (optional for the other trims). The V8 has 302 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the V6-powered Dakota with two-wheel drive gets 15/20 mpg city/highway. With the V8 and either two-wheel and four-wheel drive, the Dakota gets 14/19 mpg city/highway using regular gasoline. Both engines are mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.

  • "V8 Dakotas have good power in around-town driving, and adequate highway passing reserves. With either transmission, V6 Dakotas and all Raiders are underpowered for anything but daily commuting and light loads." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Powerful with the V8 engine option, it is underpowered when it comes with the standard V6 engine." -- Automobile.com
  • "The optional V8 makes easy the sometimes challenging task of passing slow-moving traffic on rural two-lane highways." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

According to most reviewers, the Dakota's handling capabilities don’t stand out, and some feel they fall short of the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.

  • "In Edmunds brake testing, a 4WD Dakota Laramie crew cab came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet -- a good distance for a pickup." -- Edmunds
  • "As far as overall ride quality is concerned, the 2011 Dodge Dakota’s ride is average for a truck." -- Automobile.com

Towing and Hauling

The Dakota can tow up to 7,200 pounds when properly equipped, which is well ahead of many competitors. 

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