Last year, Ram confirmed that it is working on a new midsize pickup truck – likely one that’ll revive the old Dakota moniker. The last time the name was used, it was applied to a midsize truck manufactured by Dodge up until the mid-2000s. Now that Ram Trucks is its own brand under Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the Dakota is likely to be revived for the 2021 model year according to experts. This time around the Dakota will be closely related to a not-too-distant cousin, the all-new Jeep Gladiator. The Dakota’s mission will be different from that of the Jeep Gladiator as the Dakota is intended to attract a broader slice of the truck market instead of catering to those who seek a truck with off-roading capability.
The all-new Gladiator comes standard with four-wheel-drive, a peel-off roof, and highly-coveted Jeep off-roading systems, but it also has a starting MSRP of $35,040 – not including the destination fee. Another midsize Ram truck in the form of the Dakota gives FCA a less expensive and more conventional option for buyers that need this specific type of truck. Folks who merely want a truck, be it to use it as a workhorse can opt for the 2019 Ram 1500 or the recently revamped Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 heavy-duty models, while folks who want an off-road capable truck can opt for the Jeep Gladiator instead.
Experts are sure that the Dakota will be built at the same Toledo Assembly Complex. The Toledo Assembly Complex is the same assembly plant where the Gladiator and Wrangler are currently built. The Dakota will likely use a modified version of the Gladiator’s steel frame, dropping the Gladiator’s rigid front axle while opting for an independent suspension instead. FCA’s classic engine – which just so happens to power a large part of its lineup, the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6, will likely be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or four-wheel-drive on the upcoming Dakota. Should the powertrain lineup broaden its horizon, it’ll probably be to a four-cylinder gasoline-powered engine instead of a diesel.
Once introduced to the market, the Dakota will compete with the usual suspects such as the Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, Chevrolet Colorado and its long-distance cousin: the Jeep Gladiator. Mediocrity won’t cut it in this segment that’s already crowded as it is, so Ram will have to bring its A-game with the upcoming Dakota. The Dakota will be forced to stand out; thus, engineers will have to develop a credible competitor while walking a tightrope to keep the price relatively low. Dealerships can expect the Dakota in late 2020 with a starting MSRP somewhere in the mid-$20,000s.
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Photo Source/Copyright: Artistic Rendering by Radovan Varicak for Car and Driver