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2005 Dodge Dakota

Review By Dr. David A. Zatz

The 2005 Dakota has been given a new frame, more power, better gas mileage, and a larger size, yet it should be more refined and handle better. It continues to offer the only V8 in its class, with full-size styling and power, and the ability to outpull some full size pickups.


New front and rear suspensions deliver improved ride refinement, yet still provide a best-in-class 7,000 lbs. plus of towing capability and a gross combined weight (GCW) of 11,500 lbs.

Eric Ridenour, Executive Vice President, Product Development, said, “Dodge buyers like the ‘right size’ of the current Dodge Dakota, which is more fuel efficient and maneuverable than a full-size pickup, but can still get the big jobs done.”

“Dodge created the mid-size segment with the original Dakota and the new Dodge Dakota is still the only mid-size truck that hits the mark,” said Darryl Jackson, Vice President, Dodge Marketing.

The 2005 Dodge Dakota is 3.7 inches longer than its predecessor, primarily ahead of the front axle, to provide added crush space for improved impact performance. The new design reflects a balance between added safety features and the maneuverability of a true mid-size pickup. The bumpers are also extended slightly farther fore and aft to increase their protective capabilities in low-speed impacts. The body has been widened 2.7 inches.

Capability and comfort in the Dodge Dakota

New interiors improve comfort, with more interior room than all other mid-size pickups. The Dodge Dakota Quad Cab offers the most overall interior space in its class with available six-passenger seating. The 2005 Dodge Dakota also becomes the first mid-size pickup to offer heated cloth seats.

The Dakota Club Cab becomes the standard cab offering of the all-new Dakota. With forward facing rear seats and new standard rear-hinged access doors, the Club Cab’s individual rear seats provide seating for two adults in greater comfort than the previous three-passenger seat. For added versatility, folding rear seat cushions provide 30.0 cu. ft. of storage behind the front seats, an increase of 4.0 cu. ft.

At almost seven inches wider than the new Chevrolet Colorado, the new 2005 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab is roomier than all other mid-size pickups, providing adult-size rear seating for three. Both front seat tracks on Quad Cabs and the driver’s seat track on Club Cab have 8.7 inches of travel to improve comfort. The Club Cab front passenger seat has an ample 7.5 inches of travel. With the rear seats of the Quad Cab folded, there is 37.1 cu. ft. of storage space behind the front seats, an increase of 7.2 cu. ft.

The Dodge Dakota’s capability advantage continues with more room between the wheel wells compared with the competition, but Dakota maintains its bed wall height for easing loading. The Dodge Dakota Club Cab features a six-foot, six-inch bed and the Dakota Quad Cab features a five-foot, three-inch bed.


With a powerful standard 3.7-liter Magnum V-6 rated at 210 horsepower and 235 lb.-ft. of torque, the new Dodge Dakota offers a six-percent improvement in fuel efficiency and improved power over the old, LA-based 3.9-liter V-6. The 4.7-liter V-8 is rated at 230 horsepower at 4,600 rpm and 290 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm, while the new 4.7-liter High Output V-8 further eclipses the competition in both power and torque (thanks to added tuning features) with 250-plus horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. plus of torque. Both V-8 engines are rated between three and four-percent more fuel efficient than the previous Dodge Dakota V-8 engines, which were based off blocks designed in the 1950s but updated with new heads and fuel delivery systems.

The only V-8 offering in the mid-size segment allows the Dakota to boast class-dominating power, torque and a 7,000 lb. plus towing capacity.

The High Output 4.7-liter engine will be available only on SLT and Laramie models and requires an automatic transmission. It has more power, faster acceleration, and better gas mileage than the old 360 / 5.9.

Both 4.7-liter Magnum V-8 engines are available with to the 5-45RFE five-speed automatic transmission.

For 2005, the 4.7-liter V-8 was modified to improve fuel efficiency approximately three to four-percent. A new electronically modulated converter clutch (EMCC) allows partial lock-up of the torque converter at low speeds for improved fuel efficiency. Dual knock sensors allow more spark advance while preventing potentially damaging engine knock. Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) improves fuel economy by replacing some of the incoming fuel-air mixture with inert exhaust gas.

The 3.7-liter Magnum V-6 returns as the only standard V-6 engine in the mid-size segment and is fitted with an all-new Getrag six-speed manual transmission that delivers improved fuel efficiency and drivability. Available on both two and four-wheel drive Dakotas, the 3.7-liter Magnum V-6 delivers 210 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 235 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm. A 42RLE automatic transmission is also available with the 3.7-liter engine.

Refinement, noise, vibration, and handling

A stiffer frame, with box-section rails throughout, helps the all-new Dodge Dakota achieve excellent bending, torsional and lateral stiffness for NVH control. Box-section rails extend the full length of the frame aft of the rail tips. The frame sections are stamped or roll formed and all joints are welded for maximum strength and stiffness.

A new lower-control-arm cross member connecting the rear lower control arm pivots also increases torsional stiffness, and increases the frame’s lateral stiffness to enhance handling. The transmission, fuel tank and spare tire cross member designs required special attention to meet the torsional frequency objectives.

    Ride and handling

    The Dodge Dakota retains its best-in-class steering feel, and handling precision while achieving a more comfortable ride. The new Dakota’s improved ride dynamics benefit from enhanced spring and shock absorber tuning capabilities provided by a new “coil-over” shock absorber configuration and a stiffer frame. The steering system, stabilizer bars, spring rates and bushings are also fine-tuned to achieve optimum handling qualities. An all-new rack-and-pinion steering gear, used on both 2WD and 4WD models, facilitates fine-tuning of the steering response characteristics.

    New front suspension

    An all-new, common-architecture short and long-arm (SLA) independent front suspension system with a “coil-over” shock absorber module and a tall steering knuckle replaces separate 2WD and 4WD systems on all Dakota models. The Dakota is the first Dodge truck to use a “coil-over” suspension configuration. The new system delivers smoother ride characteristics.

    Major suspension system components are shared between 2WD and 4WD systems, with variations occurring only in tuning to reduce build complexity. This provides a common ride height for both configurations. The coil-over configuration provides greater flexibility in tuning for ride and handling than either of the systems used on the previous Dakota.

    New rear suspension

    The new Dodge Dakota rear suspension has the same Hotchkiss architecture as its predecessor, but has been redesigned to improve ride quality. Multi-leaf rear springs include a main spring stage optimized for a class-leading 11,500 lb. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and common ride height. Spring rates have been selected to provide improved ride quality compared with the previous Dakota.

Four wheel drive

The all-new Dodge Dakota is the only mid-size pickup to offer a two-speed full-time four-wheel drive transfer case. The full-time system provides even torque to all wheels during dry or slippery conditions and allows four-wheel drive power to be used on all surfaces, all the time. A center differential allows the front and rear drive shafts to rotate at different speeds as required for steering on dry pavement without threat of damage to the drivetrain.

A new electric shift mechanism uses analog, rather than digital, output signals to indicate mode and range selection. A new powdered-metal differential in the NV244HD transfer case reduces its weight 2.5-lbs. (1.1 kg) while maintaining the same durability as its steel predecessor.

A part-time four-wheel drive system is the standard four-wheel drive offering on 2005 Dodge Dakotas.

Dodge Dakota capability and capacity

Box sizes are the same as the previous Dakota: five-foot-three-inches and six-feet-six-inches long with Quad Cab™ and Club Cab®, respectively. The box rail height on both body styles remains at a level that permits over-the-side loading, compared with some competitor trucks that have raised the box sides to increase capacity, thereby making over-the-side loading very difficult.

The box itself was also re-designed for more utility. New vertical formations in the inner panels aft of the wheelhouses on the Club Cab box will hold a two-inch-thick board cargo divider. This feature continues on the Quad Cab box. As in the past, the box inner panels and wheelhouses include indentations for 2 x 6-inch boards that can be added to support a full-width upper load floor.

New bolt-on tie-downs have been added to improve cargo stability. Under-floor tie-downs are also supplied and are bolted to the Quad Cab front box pillars, welded into the Club Cab box support rail below the box floor, and bolted to the tailgate pillars on both boxes.

Integrated safety systems on the Dodge pickup truck

The performance of the new Dakota’s multiple safety systems is integrated to protect vehicle occupants in regulatory, consumer ratings and real-world impacts, including NCAP (New Car Assessment Program), SINCAP (Side Impact New Car Assessment Program), and IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) Offset impacts. A revised occupant protection standard also applies to the new Dakota.

Patented, hydroformed octagonal front rail tips that extend the frame three inches (75 mm) farther forward of the front wheels than the previous frame absorb frontal impact forces at speeds up to about 25 mph (40 km/hr). These rail tips were first used on the 2004 Durango. They are formed separately and welded to the front of the frame rails.

The frame is designed to help protect occupants in real-world impacts. It is specifically designed to meet new regulatory requirements for occupant protection and newly mandated fuel system protection requirements in high-speed rear impacts. The robust rear section of the frame is designed to meet the anticipated 50 mph (80 km/hr) offset rear impact safety standard for fuel system integrity.

Available side curtain air bags offer protection for front and rear seat occupants. The driver and front passenger seat belts include pyrotechnic pre-tensioners. In a collision that deploys the front air bags, the pre-tensioners take slack out of the belts and snug them around the occupant prior to contact with the air bags. The Dodge Dakota also offers shoulder belts for three rear seat occupants.

All 2005 Dodge Dakotas feature an OCS (Occupant Classification System) as standard. OCS is a factor in determining whether or not to deploy the front passenger airbag in an impact, and, if deployed, how forceful the deployment should be. The 2005 Dakota’s OCS determines whether the front passenger air bag will deploy at all, and if so, how or if the second stage will deploy. It also prevents first stage deployment if the seat is unoccupied, or, in the unlikely event it is occupied by an infant in a rearward facing child seat.

Designed to maintain optimal positioning in case of an impact, rear seats on the new Dakota Club Cab feature fixed outboard rear head restraints mounted to the roof and cab back. The new Dakota Quad Cab also features larger coverage head restraints that are fixed to the top of the rear seats. The new design was developed to maintain optimal positioning in the case of an impact.

Both Dodge Dakota Club Cabs and Quad Cabs feature rear child seat tether anchors mounted on the cab back panel. These tether anchors work with LATCH-equipped child seats, as well as child seats that use the vehicle seat belts for primary retention.

Design cues

The all-new 2005 Dodge Dakota boasts a bigger, beefier and more refined design. The confident, powerful and modern design distinguishes the new Dakota from the smaller compact and mid-size competitors.

The bold new design reinforces the Dakota’s size and power advantages over the competition with full-size styling cues. The grille conveys a powerful and prominent brand statement with the signature Dodge cross-hair as the focal point. The more sharply defined and larger hood mounted grille descends into the front bumper for more visual impact. An air dam below the front fascia successfully completes the look while reducing airflow under the vehicle to lower drag.

“The design of the new Dakota is more directly connected to the evolution of the Ram than to the new Durango, as was the case on the previous Dakota,” said styling chief Trevor Creed. “It defines the look for its segment, just as the Ram does for full-size trucks.”

A massive front bumper fascia creates a protective image. The new front fascia features a bright, ingot-like grille surround. Larger, more technical looking headlamps provide a contemporary look. In combination with the large, circular, park and turn-signal lamps, the overall impression is that of quad headlamps.

“The Dakota is immediately recognizable from a distance as a Dodge pickup, but without repeating the design of the Dodge Ram,” said Rick Aneiros, Vice President, Truck Design. “With the new Dodge Dakota, we evolved the design to one that is more angular and refined than the previous Dakota, while retaining the unmistakable Dodge muscularity.”

The sharply defined fender forms continue the powerful imagery of the grille into the side view. To increase the proportion of body to glass in keeping with the new design paradigm, a body-color sill appliqué with integrated front wheel-opening stone protection visually adds 2-3 inches to the lower body depth.

The effect of the highly sculptured, precise, wheel arch forms is to create a taut, controlled look. Above the sharply defined character line, side panels have a more refined shape than in the past. Cab sides have much more tension than the previous Dakota which was softer and more fluid. The muscular fender forms are angular in shape, precisely intersecting the body, and gestured to enhance the overall bold stance.

The side appearance of the 2005 Dodge Dakota is uninterrupted by wheel flares. A road blast/mud deflector is now integrated into the sheet metal of the front fender, just aft of the wheel opening. The Dodge Truck broad shouldered front and rear fender forms employ a modified drop fender design that is more subtle when compared with the new Durango. The fenders accentuate the truck’s track width and wheel to body relationship. The look is along the box sides.

New mirrors are shared with the new 2004 Dodge Durango. Aerodynamic refinement of the mirror housings alone reduced the drag coefficient of the entire vehicle over one percent. This refinement process eliminated much of the wind noise caused by external mirrors. Low mounting arms are a key enabler in achieving the aerodynamic benefit.

The rear of the 2005 Dodge Dakota features a more Ram-like robustness. The muscular bumper assembly is complemented by distinctive dual barrel taillamps inspired by the Power Wagon concept.

Style, flexibility, and comfort

The design philosophy behind the interior of the 2005 Dodge Dakota is a surface language defined by pure geometry. Surface sections are made up of more constant radii, delivering a cleaner and simpler overall form. The functional and elegant instrument panel is all-new, and delivers information in a clean, well-organized manner. Crisp, taut lines, maximize the sense of high-quality craftsmanship, while organizing the interior in a logical manner.

“A more refined look was needed for the new Dodge Dakota interior,” said Creed. “The goal was to accomplish this with a clean and precise design; simple yet elegant and upscale. We have moved to very large, clear instruments and a more tailored look for materials, including the seat cloth and leather surfaces.”

The new instrument panel cluster features a large, centrally located speedometer and white-faced gauges that provide a connection to other Dodge performance vehicles. The steering wheel features a new four-spoke design shared with the Dodge truck family. The central brow crowns the prominent center stack to divide the driver and passenger seating areas. “Venetian Blind” style air vents close flush and provide a clean appearance.

The design incorporates a new line of radios with larger knobs and simpler graphics. The new sound systems are now available with satellite radio, six-disc in-dash CD systems and an integrated U-Connect BlueTooth™ phone system.

The new interior features more refined seat designs and heated cloth and leather seats. Heated cloth seats are a segment first on a mid-size pickup.

The new Dakota is available in three trim levels, ST, SLT and Laramie. The Laramie has Satin Silver accents on the center stack bezel, the instrument cluster rings and the interior door handles. On SLT the instrument cluster rings are also Satin Silver.

The 2005 Dodge Dakota will be built at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Warren, Michigan, and will be available in dealerships in fall of 2004.

  Dakota Colorado Tacoma
Maximum Towing 7,000 lb 4,000 lb 6,500 lb
Standard Transmission Six speed Five speed Five speed (I4) / Six speed (V6)
Standard Engine 210 horse V6 175 horse I4 164 horse I4
Optional Engine V8: 230 hp, 290 lb-ft I5: 220 hp, 225 lb-ft 245 horse 4.0 V6
Gas mileage
(range based on powertrains)
14-16 city, 18-21 highway 17-19 city, 22-24 highway 17/21 (V6)
Crash test Not yet rated Not yet rated Not yet rated
EPA air pollution score
(higher is better, 1-10 scale)
6-7 6 n/a
Weight 4,275 – 4,293 3,398 4,045


2005 Dodge Dakota Specifications

Dimensions are in inches (millimeters) unless otherwise noted. All dimensions measured on ST model at curb weight with standard tires unless otherwise noted.

Assembly Plant: Dodge City (Warren, Michigan)




  • Displacement: 226 cu. in. (3701 cu. cm)
  • Bore x Stroke: 3.66 x 3.57 (93.0 x 90.8)
  • Valve System: Chain-driven SOHC, 12 valves, hydraulic end-pivot roller rockers
  • Fuel Injection: Sequential, multi-port, electronic, returnless
  • Construction: Cast-iron block and bedplate, aluminum alloy heads, balance shaft. 90 degree V6.
  • Compression Ratio: 9.7:1
  • Power (estimated SAE net): 210 bhp (157 kW) @ 5200 rpm
  • Torque (estimated SAE net): 235 lb.-ft. (319 N•m) @ 3600 rpm
  • Max. Engine Speed: 6000 rpm (electronically limited)
  • Fuel Requirement: Unleaded regular, 87 octane (R M)/2
  • Emission Controls: Dual three-way catalytic converters, heated oxygen sensors, and internal engine features
  • EPA mpg (City/Hwy):
    • 2WD: 16/22 — manual trans., 17/22 — auto. trans.
    • 4WD: 16/20 — manual trans., 15/19 — auto. trans.

4.7-LITER SOHC MAGNUM V8 (Optional on all models)

  • Displacement: 287 cu. in. (4701 cu cm)
  • Bore x Stroke: 3.66 x 3.40 (93.0 x 86.5)
  • Valve System: Chain-driven SOHC, 16 valves, hydraulic end-pivot roller rockers
  • Fuel Injection: Sequential, multi-port, electronic, returnless
  • Construction: Cast iron block, aluminum alloy heads
  • Compression Ratio: 9.0:1 — Standard, 9.7:1 — High Output
  • Power (SAE Net): 230 bhp (170 kW) @ 4600 rpm —Torque: 290 lb.-ft. (393 N-m) @ 3600 rpm
  • High Output (optional on SLT and Laramie): 250 bhp @ 5200 rpm; 300 lb.-ft. @ 3600 rpm
  • Max. Engine Speed: 5750 rpm
  • Fuel: Unleaded regular (normal), Unleaded premium, 93 octane (high output)
  • Oil Capacity: 6 qt. (5.7 L)
  • Emission Controls: Dual three-way catalytic converters, heated oxygen sensors, and internal engine features
  • Estimated EPA Fuel Economy (MPG City/Hwy.):
    • 15/21 — 2WD;
    • 15/19 — 4WD man. trans.
    • 14/19 — 4WD auto. trans.
    • 14/19 — 2WD High-Output
    • 14/18 — 4WD High-Output




  1. Availability: Std. – 3.7 and 4.7 standard output
  2. Description: Synchronized in all gears
  3. Gear Ratios: 1st 4.23
  4. 2nd 2.53
  5. 3rd 1.67
  6. 4th 1.23
  7. 5th 1.00
  8. 6th 0.79
  9. Reverse 3.84
  10. Overall Top Gear 2.54 with 3.21 axle ratio, 2.80 with 3.55 axle ratio


  • Availability: Available with 3.7L engine
  • Description: Clutch-selected planetary gear sets full electronic control, electronically controlled torque converter clutch
  • Gear Ratios:
    • 1st 2.84
    • 2nd 1.57
    • 3rd 1.00
    • 4th 0.69
    • Overall Top Gear 2.45 with 3.55 axle ratio, 2.74 with 3.92 axle ratio


  • Availability: 4.7L engines
  • Description: Clutch-selected planetary gear sets full electronic control, electronically controlled torque converter clutch
  • Gear Ratios:
    • 1st 3.00
    • 2nd 1.67 – upshift; 1.50 – kick-down
    • 3rd 1.00
    • 4th 0.75
    • 5th 0.67
  • Overall Top Gear 2.34 with 3.55 axle ratio or 2.59 with 3.92 axle ratio




  • Availability: Standard
  • Shift Mechanism: Electrical/electronic
  • Operating Modes: Neutral; 2WD; 4WD High, locked; 4WD Low, locked
  • Low Range Ratio: 2.72
  • Center Differential: None


  • Availability: Optional on SLT and Laramie
  • Shift Mechanism: Electrical/electronic
  • Operating Modes: Neutral; 4WD High, full-time; 4WD High, locked; 4WD Low, locked
  • Low Range Ratio: 2.72
  • Center Differential Type: Planetary with lock
  • Torque Split, F/R: 48/52



Alternator: 136 A

Battery: Maintenance-free, top-terminal 600 CCA – std.; 750 CCA – opt.


Layout: Longitudinal front engine, rear drive with transfer case for rear- wheel drive or four-wheel drive

Construction: Ladder-type frame, steel body mounted on rubber isolators



Front: Upper and lower “A” arms, coil springs over gas-pressure shock absorbers, Link-type stabilizer bar

Rear: Live axle, multi-leaf 2-stage longitudinal springs, staggered gas-pressure shock absorbers, link-type stabilizer bar


Type: Power rack and pinion

Overall Ratio: 17.4:1

Turning Diameter (curb-to-curb): 44.0 ft. (13.4 m)

Steering Turns (lock-to-lock): 3.18




  • Size and Type 12.3 x 1.1 (312 x 28) vented disc with 2.13 (54) dual-piston sliding caliper1
  • Swept Area 248 sq. in. (1604 sq cm)


  • Size and Type 11.6 x 2.28 (295 x 58) drum with ABS
  • Swept Area 166.6 sq. in. (1076 sq cm)

Power Assist: Type 9.06 (230) Tandem-diaphragm vacuum



Fuel Tank Capacity: 22 gal. (83 L)

  Club Cab Quad Cab
Drag coefficient (estimated) 0.465 0.471
CdA, square feet 14.1 14.3

  • Wheelbase: 131.3 (3335.3)
  • Track, Front: 62.8 (1594.5)
  • Track, Rear: 62.9 (1598)
  • Overall Length: 218.8 (5558.2)
  • Overall Width: 71.7 (1821.7)
  • Overall Height: 68.6 (1743.2)
  • Tailgate Load Height: 31.9 (809.6)

Ground Clearance:

  • Front Suspension (Lowest Point) 7.9 (201.9)
  • Rear Axle 8.1 (205.1)
  • Approach Angle, deg. 23
  • Ramp Breakover Angle, deg. 19.9
  • Departure Angle, deg. 22.6

Frontal Area, sq. ft. (sq. m) (estimated): 30.3 (2.81)

4WD (where different from 2WD)

Overall Width: 72.0 (1828.4)

Tailgate Load Height: 31.8 (808.9)

Ground Clearance:

  • Front Suspension (Lowest Point) 7.9 (201.9)
  • Rear Axle 8.0 (203.8)
  • Approach Angle, deg. 22.8
  • Ramp Breakover Angle, deg. 19.6
  • Departure Angle, deg. 22.5

Frontal Area, sq. ft. (sq. m) (estimated): 30.3 (2.81)


  Club Cab Quad Cab
Nominal Box Length, ft.: 6.5 5.25

Length at Floor, Tailgate Closed:

78.8 (2001.5) 64.9 (1648.1)
Length at Floor, Tailgate Open: 100.3 (2546.6) 86.3 (2193.1)
Interior Width, Maximum: 59.6 (1514.0)

Distance Between Wheelhouses:

45.2 (1146.9)
Tailgate Opening Width: 53.3 (1355.0)
Depth: 17.6 (446.9)
Volume, cu. ft (cu. m): 46.6 (1.32) 40.25 (1.14)



  Club Cab Quad Cab
Seating Capacity, F/R 2 or 3/2 2 or 3/3

Front Head Room

39.6 (1005.3) 39.9 (1013.1)
Step Height 4×2: 20.4 (518.0) 20.4 (518.0)
Step Height 4×4: 4×4: 20.3 (515.8) 20.3 (515.8)

Front Interior Volume, cu. ft. (cu. m)

55.3 (1.57) 55.8 (1.58)
Rear Head Room 36.5 (928.3) 38.4 (974.2)
Minimum Leg Room (Rear) 32.1 (815.4) 36.4 (925.1)
Rear Hip Room 56.9 (1446) 56.0 (1460.7)
Rear Interior Volume, cu. ft. (cu. m) 39.0 (1.10) 46.5 (1.32)
Cab cargo volume (rear seat up) 30.0 (0.85) 37.1 (1.05)



  • Front Leg Room 41.9 (1063.1)
  • Front Shoulder Room 57.7 (1466)
  • Front Hip Room 54.9 (1394.0)
  • Seat Travel 8.7 (220) — driver, 7.5 (190) — passenger
  • Recliner Range, degrees 53
  • Knee Clearance 3.0 (75.0)
  • Shoulder Room 57.4-57.5 (1458.3)

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