Ram plans to introduce a new pickup truck in the mid-size range that will bring back the Dodge Dakota nameplate. The new truck is expected to arrive later in the year and will be smaller than the Ram 1500’s half-ton. Although it may share components with its bigger sibling, it will likely be based on the Jeep Gladiator. This Jeep earned a spot in our 2020 10Best List following its debut. The Dakota will compete with the Ford Ranger, which was recently revived, as well as mid-size options like the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. We are still waiting for more information on the 2021 Ram Dakota. Here’s what we do know.
What’s new for 2021?
Although hard facts about the Dakota are not yet available, we believe it will be closely related to the Gladiator, and built in Toledo, Ohio. Or it will ride on a smaller version the Ram’s half-ton Ram chassis, and be manufactured at Ram’s Saltillo factory, Mexico. Both rumors have been confirmed.
Pricing and Which One To Buy
Ram has not yet revealed the price of the Dakota or the trim levels available. Its base price could be considerably lower than that of the Gladiator, currently starting at $35,040. It would be comparable to key competitors like the Ranger or the Colorado if it had a starting price of around $26,000. Although we don’t know which trim levels or prices will be available, it is possible to use the 1500 pickup model as a guide. A mid-range SLT/Laramie model will probably offer the best combination of features and affordability.
Transmission, Engine, and Performance
The Dakota’s engine choices are easy to understand, regardless of whether it is a smaller version of the Ram 1500, or a rebodied Gladiator. Although there is little chance of a V-8, the 3.6-liter V-6 used in Fiat Chrysler’s range is a good bet. It will likely be paired with an eight speed automatic transmission, rear- or all-wheel drive, and an eight-speed manual transmission. The brand recently introduced a diesel 3.0-liter V-6 engine that produces 260 horsepower and 442 pounds-feet of torque. To compete with mid-sized rivals, the Dakota will undoubtedly have an off-road-oriented version. A Rebel trim level could have a rugged exterior, beefier suspension, lower body skid plates and knobbier tires.
Towing and Payload Capacity
Based on the Gladiator’s ratings for towing and payload, the Dakota should be able pull up to 7650 lbs and tow up to 1600 lbs in its cargo bed. These maximums may change as the company releases more details. However, the ratings for the mid-size Ram should be similar to those of the Gladiator.
Fuel Economy and Real World MPG
Ram and the EPA have not released information about fuel economy estimates for the Dakota. We will be able to evaluate the real-world mpg of the pickup truck once its highway ratings and city are public.
Interior, Comfort, & Cargo
The Dakota is likely to have similar interior styling as the Ram 1500, but it won’t be up to Ram 1500’s luxury standards. The smaller pickup will still offer a wide range of standard and optional amenities. These will likely include heated steering wheels, ventilated front seats, leather upholstery and wireless charging. There will be a crew cabin and a smaller extended version of the cab. We doubt that the Dakota will have any more spacious back seats than the Honda Ridgeline, which is the largest mid-size truck. We are confident Ram will provide both long and short cargo beds and a variety of storage options for every model.
Connectivity and Infotainment
The Ram 1500 has a 12.0-inch vertically-oriented touchscreen. However, it is not clear if that infotainment system will also be available for the Dakota. The mid-sized pickup will be offered with at least an 8.4-inch touchscreen. Uconnect, the company’s superior system, is available on a variety of models. It includes desirable content such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a WiFi hotspot. The base models will likely be simpler, but still include the above features.