Among pickup trucks, Dodge‘s last Dakota pushed the term compact to mid-size, and the new Dakota-which is larger and more capable than anything else in its class-practically pushes mid-size off the chart. Looking like a seven-eighths-scale Ram, the 2005 Dakota is 3.7 inches longer and 2.7 inches wider overall than its none-too-diminutive predecessor. Behind that bold-as-ever grille resides one of three powerplants: a 210-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 or a 4.7-liter Magnum V-8 in either 230-hp or 250-hp strength. There are two cab configurations (with seating for as many as six people), two bed lengths (five-foot-three and six-foot-six), the choice of two- or four-wheel drive, and a towing capacity of as much as 7000 pounds.
ON SALE: Fall 2004
PRICE: $18,000-$28,000 (est.)
ENGINES: 210-hp, 3.7-liter V-6; 230-hp, 4.7-liter V-8; 250-hp, 4.7-liter V-8
BOTTOM LINE: Bigger, beefier, and packing serious heat, the new Dakota wants to conquer its class.