Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has big plans for the Ram Dakota. Inside Line spoke with Marchionne at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, and the besweatered executive said there is a good chance the next-generation Dakota will likely ride on a unibody chassis. That would mark a serious departure from the vehicle's past, as well as the rest of the models in the compact pickup segment (save the at-the-margins Honda Ridgeline), but ditching the frame could give the vehicle a fuel-efficiency edge. If that wasn't a large enough bombshell for you, Marchionne also made mention of the kind of powertrain we can expect to see from the new Dakota.

According to the executive, it only makes sense for the next-generation Ram Dakota to come equipped with a diesel engine. With the Jeep Grand Cherokee set to receive an oil-burning powerplant of its own, spreading the cost of engine development across multiple models only makes sense. We like the sound of a small, lightweight, diesel-powered pickup.

Meanwhile, Ward's Auto reports the Dodge Durango may receive a diesel engine of its own. Marchionne reportedly stressed that Fiat knows diesel technology, and that since the Grand Cherokee is being engineered for a diesel engine in European markets, it wouldn't seem to be that much of a stretch to translate the work into the Durango.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 52 Comments
      TriShield
      • 3 Years Ago
      As Jeeps have proven since the 1980s, unibody construction is extremely stout when it's engineered for a truck/SUV/off-road application. And no matter what Chrysler says, I'm still calling this a Dodge.
      Scr
      • 3 Years Ago
      Would this not make aftermarket a beotch? You are automatically excluding yourself out of much of the service industry that purchases custom truck boxes for tools and the like that simply require the removal of the factory bed and the bolting on of said aftermarket unit?
        JayP
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Scr
        I see more Transit Connects around than job-box pickups. That may be the trend if Fiat sends its little vanlet over to compete.
        BipDBo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Scr
        I had the same thought. Then again, how many small pickups have you seen, in the US that have had the factory bed swapped with something else? This seems to happen mostly to full sized pickups.
          Scr
          • 3 Years Ago
          @BipDBo
          Quite a few around here...mostly exterminators and painters.
        TMTexas
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Scr
        Job box on compact/midsize pickups is an international market. In the US it's half-ton+ for ANYTHING, including full-size vans. Even the Transit Connect isn't going as gangbusters as everyone thought it would, it's doing well, but converting American tastes is a long tough road. Fiat is brining their vans here and hopefully was also get the Iveco Daily and knock off the Sprinter, Ford, and Chevy vans all at once. Wishful thinking . . .
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        • 3 Years Ago
        [blocked]
      Klayton Kelly
      • 3 Years Ago
      You can still have a pretty capable pickup with a modified unibody platform. Jeep did it in the 80s with the Comanche. Although I bet they're thinking more of a Honda Ridgeline type setup.
      ReTired
      • 3 Years Ago
      Even the wife's '04 ex-cab v-6 4x4 HD OEM suspension (before the Meh restyle) is not a small (S-10, Ranger) truck, just smaller than a Ram. The "NEW" Dakota ('05) was a definite downgrade in styling (IMO) and utility from its predecessor. Dodge did not (could not) cover the competitions sizes in light trucks, but notched the Dakota in its own "sub-full-size" slot - and let it languish, without improvement, engineering, refinement or marketing. Our '04 is a reliable, capable light hauler and all weather transport (the V-8 probably would have been more economical), and has served us well. Hope it survives the Pa. road salt a while longer - maybe a suitable replacement is coming !
      Hazdaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      Mark my words, this is what the next-gen Dakota will look like: http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2006/06/12/010988.4-lg.jpg
        spanky
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        I just hope it's not that round...
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        No, it won't. The Rampage was what the current Dakota is. It was to present the design language Dodge Trucks were going back then. You'll notice that the front looks exactly like the Dakota in the article's main picture.
      Max1
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well, that comment by Marchionne tells you which chassis the new, unibody Dakota will be built from. If it is getting a diesel engine, then the Dakota will probably use the same one that the JGC (Jeep Grand Cherokee) and Durango gets (to save costs). The unibody Dakota will probably resemble the Honda Ridgeline. How is that? To spread costs across another vehicle line, why wouldn't Chrysler modify the Grand Cherokee/Durango/Kubang/M-Class unibody by designing new quarter panels to use as a pickup bed in place of the enclosed quarter panels used now? 80% of the vehicle is the same. Just change the quarters. Simple. Make it with a turbodiesel, and I'll trade in my 2007 Dakota Quad Cab SLT for it! I love my Dakota, but it will need to be replaced in a couple of years. Do it, Marchionne! I'm waiting...
      dadslife83
      • 3 Years Ago
      Stop me if you have heard this before... the Germans thought (knew?) they could build better cars before they bought Chrysler.. instead they gave us crap cars. And now the Italians are trying to do the same thing only differently. These countries carry huge grudges. And American will continue to not buy their crap interpretations of a modern automobile.
        spanky
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dadslife83
        The Germans came in specifically to loot Chrysler, FIAT is using them as a channel to sell their vehicles here in the states. While also turning Chrysler brands into profitable ones. FIAT has a long term goal for Chrysler, the Daimler did not...
        Mike D
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dadslife83
        Actually the new cars Chrysler has been coming out with have very nice. The new Dart also looks very nice, especially compared to the stuff that was brought out under Daimler. If you think any of this is because of some 60 year old grudge from WW2 it's you, not them, that's having problems letting go of the past.
      donnieorama
      • 3 Years Ago
      Unibody?! Geezus, Marchionne. Guess I better snatch up one of the last Ford Rangers while they last.
      • 3 Years Ago
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      Wintrode
      • 3 Years Ago
      Diesel Durango with the 8 speed trans please. Sounds like a nice replacement for our Jeep Commander.
      guyverfanboy
      • 3 Years Ago
      I will sell my boring as sin Rav4 for an awesome diesel Dodge Durango when comes out. :-)
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