Buyers of midsized trucks used to be driven mainly by the need for a little truck to do little jobs on the farm. Now they want both comfort and styling for a trip to town, plus enough power to tow big trailers and boats.

To earn a bigger share of this competitive market, Dodge has given its 2005 lineup of Dakotas bigger engines (two optional V-8 engines or a V-6), a car-like ride and handling, and several luxury amenities. Dodge also has lowered its price tags for the new Dakotas by $1,000 from last year's prices.

On a preview drive near Nashville, Tenn., the Dakota's steering and suspension systems turned twisting mountain roads into a fun drive. The 4.7-liter V-8 made short work of the inclines. The Dakota also passed the towing and off-road demonstrations with power to spare.

And the family resemblance among the Dakota and its big brother, the Ram, is obvious. Both have big-shouldered hoods and cross-hair grills.

Dakota interiors feature clean lines and straightforward instrumentation. If you want to go for the top-of-the-line Laramie package, you can order a factory-installed satellite radio, CD player and premium sound.

Thicker glass, redesigned door seals and better mufflers make the Dakota as silent as a sedan. Lower step-in heights ease entry and exit.

Back seats of the Quad Cabs have enough room and comfort for two adults, even on extended trips. But the Club Cab versions will make only children feel at home. That's the price you pay for a 6-foot, 6-inch cargo box on the Club Cab versus the 5-foot, 4-inch box on the Quad Cab.

Available only in Quad Cab or Club Cab configurations, the new Dakotas come in twoor four-wheel drive and have a top towing capacity of 7,150 pounds. -Jim Patrico

Copyright Southern Progress Corporation Oct 2004
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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