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]