The Dodge Dakota was one of the iconic brand’s most popular vehicles. But things have changed drastically since then, with Ram becoming its own brand of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group, alongside brother company Dodge.
With rumors of the Dakota resurfacing, will it be part of the Dodge or Ram brand? And how will a new Dakota fare in the competitive, midsize pickup market?
Who will build the new Dakota?
When you think of the Dakota truck, the brand Dodge typically accompanies it. But when Ram became its own brand of the company, it took the Dodge trucks with it, allowing Ram to become the truck-specific branch of FCA.
Now, Dodge focuses on cars, crossovers, and SUVs, while Ram focuses on pickups. So if any brand will reproduce the beloved Dakota, it will be Ram trucks. With its full-size namesake Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 doing so well, Ram and FCA can focus on the gap created with re-branding.
Without Dodge making trucks and the Dakota missing completely, the FCA is missing a successful vehicle in the midsize pickup segment. FCA’s Jeep brand recently debuted its Gladiator, a blend between the Wrangler and a midsize pickup, but it generally appeals to a different audience.
Though FCA may need to do some tricky marketing to ensure two of its biggest brands don’t step on each other’s toes, according to Automobile Magazine, putting a new midsize pickup in the lineup may ensure that FCA dominates the market.
Why Ram needs a new midsize pickup
The FCA and Ram are on a “mission to attract a broader slice of the truck market,” according to Car and Driver. And with competitors like the Honda Ridgeline experiencing success, Ram trucks is eager to take a piece of the midsize-truck pie with the Dakota. After all, Ram is the only U.S. truck manufacturer lacking a midsize truck in its lineup.
The popularity of midsize pickup trucks has only grown over recent years. More Americans are interested in trucks that can tow and haul but are also fuel-efficient and easy to drive.
According to the Detroit Free Press, analysts believe midsize truck sales will “increase by 50% by 2023.” It’s easy to see why FCA and Ram are ready to get back in the midsize truck game with the rebirth of the Dakota.
What we know (and don’t know) about the new Dakota
In 2018, Ram confirmed it was working on a brand-new, midsize pickup truck. Though no one knows for sure, rumor has it that this new truck will take the iconic namesake of Dakota.
The midsize newbie will most likely be built on the same platform used for the Jeep Gladiator, using the same 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engine as its base powertrain option. The Dakota will likely be built at the same plant, too. But the truck will probably also be available as a diesel, turbocharged four-cylinder, or even a hybrid.
Ram’s future Dakota will come with either rear- or front-wheel-drive and an eight-speed, automatic engine, according to Car and Driver. Though there haven’t been any hints about the interior, we suspect it will look much like current Ram trucks and be able to compete with modern features found in its biggest competitors.
The new midsize Ram, which we hope will be the Dakota, is set to arrive as a 2021 model and hit dealerships in late 2020. Its starting price will be competitive, starting out in the mid-$20,000s.