When we first locked eyes on the 2008 Dodge Dakota at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, we were breathless. The reason for our inability to process oxygen had everything to do with the ungainly sheet metal that covered the latest iteration of Dodge's midsize truck offering. The new Dakota is boxy with an awkward, Pug-like front end, and the interior is Dodge-tastic. Not all is wrong with the Dakota, however. It's the largest of the midsize pickups, has the only optional V8 in its class, and thus can out-tow and carry larger loads than its competition. We wanted to see for ourselves if the Ram Lite could overcome its visual shortcomings with affordability and clever packaging, so we took a blacked-out KITT look-a-like version for a week in the Autoblog Garage. Hit the jump to see how the Dakota fared. %Gallery-18027% All photos Copyright ©2008 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc. Click any image to enlarge Our 2008 Dakota was a 2WD extended cab Sport model with the available 4.7L V8 and 18-inch black-painted aluminum wheels. It carries a hefty price tag of $27,945, which effectively eliminated our preconception that the Dakota was an inexpensive alternative to the Toyota Tacoma. At the same time, the Sport treatment coupled with the nice-looking jet black 18-inchers made the Dakota look a bit more interesting than what we saw at the Chicago Auto Show. Each iteration of the Dakota seems to get a bit further away from the design of its big brother, the Dodge Ram, and as the latter is beginning to look more refined with each new redesign, the Dakota becomes rougher around the edges. But whether or not you like the looks of the 2008 Dakota, it definitely holds true to the Dodge design philosophy. The in-your-face cross hair front grille, bulging hood and aggressive body flares on each fender scream, "I'm a guy's truck," even if the all-black exterior of our tester screams, "I like David Hasselfhoff." And the interior of the midsize pickup tells the same story. The Dakota's insides are very basic, with a straight forward layout displaying few buttons and knobs. We actually appreciated the Dakota's simplicity, as it's easy-to-use controls left our brain to concentrate on the road. Our Sport model also came with very comfortable, well-bolstered bucket seats that reminded us a bit of the butt-holders in the SRT lineup, but just a bit. The Dakota's interior wasn't without fault, as cheap plastic abounds throughout the dash, center console and doors. While the extended cab doors swung open 170 degrees for easy ingress/egress, a very large subwoofer that came with the six-speaker Alpine audio package occupied all the usable space. The subwoofer would be a cool add-on for those who don't need to stow people or things behind the driver's seat, but the obtrusive bass-maker didn't add significantly to the acoustics in the cabin. Besides, its turquoise casing looks like a Power Mac G3 case mod. While Dodge boasts best-in-class interior room in the extended …
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