2011 Ram Dakota Review

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2011 Ram Dakota Overview

So maybe the 2011 Ram Dakota is indeed your father’s, or perhaps your grandfather’s, pickup and a nice bit of a throwback: Strong and rugged, not too big and not too small. In short, just right for the person who wants a truck to be a truck, isn’t looking for anything too large or for a rig that is all fancied up to do double duty as the family’s Sunday-drive wheels.

The 2011 Ram Dakota offers up plenty of power – as long as you follow the lead of reviewers and skip straight to the optional V8 – and performance, especially when it comes to towing. But it comes up a little short on the refinement meter.

In its last year of production, according to reports, the 2011 Ram Dakota features three trims, the base ST, Big Horn (called the Lone Star in Texas) and top-of-the-line Laramie. Ram sets each up with either a Crew or Extended cab, and they all come standard with rear-wheel drive (RWD), with four-wheel drive (4WD) available.

For 2011, Ram dropped a TRX trim that was aimed at off-roaders. No problem: The experts believe the Dakota’s 4WD models with 8 inches of ground clearance will be enough to satisfy most drivers looking to get off road and explore.

Ram sends the 2011 Dakota out with a 210-hp, 3.7-liter V6 with 235 lb-ft of torque mated with a 4-speed automatic transmission.

Opinions vary on how well the V6 gets the Dakota around town for light duty and commuter runs, but there’s no debate over the recommendation: Bump up to the optional V8, an engine that’s not offered often on this size truck. It’s a 4.7-liter V8 good for 302 hp and 329 lb-ft of torque with a five-speed automatic transmission. The V6 gets 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway. Those numbers do edge the V8's 14/19.

The Dakota shows off its ruggedness and really shines when it comes to towing. All the V8s in the line can pull at least 5,500 pounds, and with the proper setup it maxes out at 7,200 pounds.

The 2011 Ram Dakota does not offer a regular cab. The Crew cab has room for up to six people and comes with a 5.3-foot cargo bed and traditional rear doors. Models with the Extended cab seat four or five and get a bed that is 6.6 feet.

Cabins on the 2011 Ram Dakota get good marks for roominess, storage options, comfortable rear seats and the fact they are relatively quiet compared to those of their competitors. But reviewers tend to knock the interiors for their less-than-impressive material quality.

The ST trim comes with 16-inch wheels, a dual-position tailgate, air conditioning, front bucket seats, a center console and a four-speaker sound system with a CD stereo. The Big Horn gets, among other additions, 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, a bedliner, power driver's seat, remote ignition and a six-speaker Alpine sound system with a 6-CD changer. The Laramie tops out with automatic headlights, heated front seats, Bluetooth technology and leather upholstery, along with other goodies.

The 2011 Ram Dakota features rear-wheel ABS brakes and dual front multi-stage airbags among its safety features. Traction and stability control are not available.

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