• Dec 7th 2009 at 2:30PM
  • 33
The Dodge Dakota -- as we know it today -- will go away in 2011, but looking at current sales of the mid-size pickup, it may as well be dead already. Chrysler has only sold 10,000 Dakotas this year, with an anemic 663 units cleared in November. But while the Dakota is selling poorly (it's not helped by being too close in price to the much more capable Ram), it doesn't necessarily mean that the enigmatic pickup won't live on in another form.

Coinciding with earlier reports, the Detroit News says Chrysler is contemplating a unibody Dakota to replace the current model. A more fuel efficient car-based platform could yield better efficiency, especially when paired with a turbocharged four cylinder with direct injection. The car-based truck probably wouldn't be a hauler but it would still have a functional bed similar to the Honda Ridgeline, and AWD would likely be an available option. Fred Diaz, the new head of the Ram brand, told the DN that the Pentastar is looking both at Fiat and from within its own stable of vehicles for any platforms that could help make the unibody Dakota a possibility, adding, "The emphasis is going to be on getting a vehicle that is still true to the Ram brand image and also gets excellent miles per gallon rating and at an attractive price point." Chrysler was reportedly already working on a unibody Dakota when money troubles forced the idea to the back burner.

While we like the idea of a fuel efficient pickup that can do most of the things that a body on frame truck can do, we're wondering if the truck-buying public will embrace the idea. The best example of a unibody pickup, the Honda Ridgeline, has been anything but a massive commercial hit and midsize trucks are already a dying breed, with only five percent of the overall vehicle market. But if Chrysler wants to make Ram its own brand, we're guessing that the Pentastar's truck company is going to need more than one vehicle.

[Source: Detroit News]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      "The emphasis is going to be on getting a vehicle that is still true to the Ram brand image ..."

      A unibody car with a bed like the Ridgeline??? True to the Ram brand image???

      I guess I'll just scratch my head on this one.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Does Ram have a 'brand' image? Yes, the truck is very competitive, but it's one model. And what does a small unibody pickup help the brand image of a division that sells full size body-on-frame pickups with a strong work truck image?

        These guys are toast. I predict BK round 2 in 2011.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This was the old/cheap one. The new was looks more like the Grande Punto and would make it easy to slap the RAM grille on it:


        • 5 Years Ago
        Me too: http://www.fiat.com.br/monte-seu-carro/conheca.do?idModelo=282

        This vehicle would be a great addition to the RAM line-up on the lower end. Real RAMs and some IVECO Daily's at the upper and of the "workhorse palette". But what between? Just kill the Durango and offer lighter a "RAM 1000" called version of the RAM 1500 with either the SOFIM 3.0 litre diesel or a turbocharged 2.4 litre Multiair I4?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, I like the idea of something smaller. Everyone sells these in other markets. If the Transit Connect flies, maybe someone will eventually bring one of these smaller pickups.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow, Mattais,

        Even better looking than the Ford. Fiat has some style, maybe something good will come of this union.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Waste of time, money n resources... its a shrinking mkt segment!!!

      As full size trucks get lighter n more efficient (F150 w/3.5 V6 EcoBoost should get 25mpg), it will only put more pressure on the mid-size/compact truck segment...

      They should put their efforts into building a competitive mid-size sedan with multiple powertrains to appeal to a broader market size in the millions of units...
      • 5 Years Ago
      the blog states the mid-size segment is all but dead, 2 things come to mind. 1. The current Mid-size trucks do not get any better gas mileage then full size, in 4X4 configuration. 2. I cannot find hardly any in stock at Kansas or Missouri dealers (ya can't sell what ya don't have). The Jeep Commanche was a body on frame and with a 190hp in-line 6 I got 24mpg, pulling the boat it got about 18-19mpg and pulled it just fine. That 18-19mpg is what the current mid-size trucks get running empty. We do not need a mid-size truck to pull 7,800lbs like the current Dakota, most of us only need it to pull 3 to 5,000 lbs, all they need to do is engineer a lighter vehicle and drop the Phoenix 4 or 6 in it. I also need a truck that I can added a topper(camper shell ) to the bed to put my tree stands and fishing stuff in , unlike the Hond Ridgeline. The Journey is about the only thing Dodge has now that would not take to much engineering to made into a uni-body truck, put has to be a little wider and a better engine, with at least a 5 if not 5.5 foot bed
      • 5 Years Ago
      Who besides me remembers it? One of you Scamps must recall it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I remember the rampage. It was based on the omni. Do you remember the scamp?
      • 5 Years Ago
      the jeep commanche was kind of a unibody, it had a separate bed, but the frame rails were welded to the front half of the body, there was no separate frame

      the problem with the dakota (and most of the new "compact" pickups), is they're not much smaller, lighter, cheaper or more fuel efficient than the full size trucks of a generation ago.

      something truly commanche/ranger/S10 size, coupled with a small turbodiesel, I think would sell very well, like a pickup version of the wrangler.

      if it were me, I'd either base a compact pickup off of the liberty/nitro platform, or more likely, off of the minivan platform. I think a FWD/AWD pickup off the minivan platform, with either a turbodiesel 4 or a V6 would prove very popular if it was styled decently. our '06 caravan can haul just about anything that can fit in a 7'x42"x42" box with the stow'n'go down....I know someone who bought one to haul his Quad up to deer camp in....

      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Dodge M80 would be a nice addition to the "Ram brand."
      • 5 Years Ago
      Uh, didn't Chrysler announce this at their November 4 press conference?

      If the new Dakota rides a modified version of the LX platform, it could be pretty interesting. Remember this time last year that Pontiac was planning on bringing over the Holden Ute.

      While a unibody Dakota would doubtless have to be more utility-focused than the Holden Ute/stillborn G8 ST, it could work, if done right.

      Done wrong, and it becomes the Honda Ridgeline, which gets full-size pickup fuel economy with less power and capability.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I thought the Rampage was a fine looking concept. If they could manage most of the capabilities of the current Dakaota with improved fuel economy and ride, I would think Chrysler would have a success. This will allow the Ram to be the tough and capable truck with a bed full of firewood and a snow plow, towing equipment trailers on construction sites and farms. The Rampage would have the capability to haul a motorcycle in the bed with a boat trailer or camper in tow. Perhaps even parked in the suburbs for the occasional trip to IKEA. Chrysler could then tailor each truck and associated marketing to the demographic buyer.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      How about making the Dakota a little smaller, built w/ better quality parts (no craptastic ball joints) and less expensive...all without reducing its utility? Oh, and make it a GOOD LOOKING truck! I used to have a '99 Dakota 4x4 club cab, and I still think those are good looking trucks when I see them on the road. It's a shame to see what the Dakota has turned into over the years.

      As far as unibody trucks are concerned - wasn't the Jeep Comanche a unibody? I'd kill to find a prestine example of one of those with 4x4 and a long bed. Those were great little trucks!
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