The new 4.7L V8 that's available on the Dakota makes 302 horsepower--a 31 percent increase versus the previous V8--and 329 lb-ft of torque. With two spark plugs per cylinder, an increased compression ratio, a new electronic throttle, and improved airflow, the new engine actually gets improved fuel economy. The V8 is also capable of operating on E85 fuel.
The standard 210-horsepower, 3.7L V6 engine is essentially carried over, but it gets a new electronic throttle control and new EGR system for better throttle response and lower emissions.
A standard six-speed manual transmission comes with V6 models, with a four-speed automatic optional; V8 models all get a five-speed automatic.
A fully boxed, ladder-type frame, with hydroformed main rails for added strength, underpins the Dakota, and an independent front suspension with coil-over-shock arrangement helps yield a good ride. The Dakota is available with either rear-wheel drive or available full-time four-wheel drive with low and high ranges.
All Dakota models get new front fascias with integral fog lamps, new rectangular headlamps, redesigned hood and fender surfaces, and protective surfaces around the rim of the cargo box. Inside there's a new look, with a new instrument panel and center console, and fresh materials and trim.
Rear anti-lock brakes are standard on the Dakota and electronic stability control is not available. A security package, which includes four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, supplemental side air bags, and full-length side-curtain air bags, is available across the line.
There are two body configurations, extended cab and crew cab, and as with most pickups, the Dakota is available in a wide range of models and trims to fit the work environment. The ST isn't as stripped-down as other base-model pickups; it includes air conditioning, tinted rear windows, and an AM/FM/CD sound system with four speakers. SXT models upgrade to popular equipment including 16-inch aluminum wheels, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, dual rear seats, rear cargo lamps, and power windows, locks, and mirrors. SLT models add more convenience features, such as a sliding rear window with defrost, power seats, an overhead console, rear-seat storage on the crew cab, and "Full Swing" rear doors on the extended cab. The TRX and TRX4 come with 17-inch Rugged Trail tires, tow hooks, and special trim, while the Sport has equipment similar to the TRX but painted silver wheels, bigger on/off-road tires, unique seats, and leather trim.
At the top of the range is the Laramie, which adds the V8 and five-speed automatic, along with a chrome grille and trim, automatic headlamps, leather bucket seats, and a premium audio system with steering-wheel controls. Top options on the Laramie include heated seats, leather bench seat, a navigation system, a trailer-towing package, and an upgraded sound system.
For 2008, Dodge's mid-size Dakota pickup gets a new optional V8 that's much more powerful than the one it replaces, yet it is also more refined and fuel-efficient.
The Dakota also has been dressed-up with new styling for 2008 inside and out. Exterior changes include a new hood, grille, fenders, and headlamps, plus a protective surface for the cargo-box sides and built-in utility rails. Inside there's a new instrument panel and center console, and new trims and finishes, plus expanded storage areas, including a center console bin for electronics. A heated front bench seat is newly available, and the MyGig Infotainment System, which is already available on some other Dodge models, is now offered on the Dakota.