in 2011 Compact Pickup Trucks

Avg. Price Paid: $14,285 - $21,206
Original MSRP: $23,210 - $33,635
MPG: 15 City / 20 Hwy
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2011 Ram Dakota Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Reviewers are excited about the 2011 Ram Dakota’s available V8 engine and its best-in-class towing.  However, with competitors now also offering V8s, that's not the trump card it once was. If you really need V8 power, be sure to check out the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado. Both start out about $6,000 less than the Dakota. 

  • "While the 2011 Dodge Dakota's 3.7-liter V6 is fine for tooling around town, it feels noticeably less robust when driven back-to-back with V6-powered models from Nissan and Toyota." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

All trims come standard with a 3.7-liter MagnumV6 engine that makes 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. While auto reviewers concede that the V6 is adequate for daily driving, many agree that it isn't strong enough to be a heavy-duty workhorse. The upgraded Big Horn/Lone Star and Laramie comes with a 4.7-liter V8 Flexible Fuel Vehicle engine (optional for the other trims). The V8 has 302 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ram Dakota with two-wheel drive, the V6 engine and manual transmission gets 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway, while the four-wheel drive V6 gets 14/18 city/highway. With the V8 and both two-wheel and four-wheel drives, the Dakota gets 14/19 city/highway using regular gasoline, and 9/13 city/highway using E85 Flex Fuel.  Both engines are mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.

  • "V8 Dakotas have good power in around-town driving, and adequate highway passing reserves. With either transmission, V6 Dakotas and all Raiders are underpowered for anything but daily commuting and light loads." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Powerful with the V8 engine option, it is underpowered when it comes with the standard V6 engine." -- Automobile.com
  • "The optional V8 makes easy the sometimes challenging task of passing slow-moving traffic on rural two-lane highways." -- Kelley Blue Book


Handling and Braking

The Dakota features front independent suspension and live axle rear suspension.  According to most reviewers, the Dakota's handling capabilities don’t stand out, falling short of the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.

  • "In Edmunds brake testing, a 4WD Dakota Laramie crew cab came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet -- a good distance for a pickup." -- Edmunds
  • "As far as overall ride quality is concerned, the 2011 Dodge Dakota’s ride is average for a truck." -- Automobile.com

Towing and Hauling

While the Dakota has the largest towing capacity of all compact pickups, most reviewers didn't have a chance to test it. The Dakota can tow up to 7,200 pounds when properly equipped, which is well ahead of many competitors. 

Next Steps: 2011 Ram Dakota

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