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Say goodbye to the original midsize pickup truck. The Dodge (Ram) Dakota has been put out to pasture as production ended at Chrysler's Warren, MI, truck plant.
When it was first introduced in 1987, the Dodge Dakota was one of the first to offer a little extra size in the small truck market. Unfortunately, in the past two decades the rest of the pickup world has managed to catch up. Even the poster child for small trucks, the Toyota Tacoma, has a version available that is larger than the 2011 Dakota.
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The Dakota's demise should come as no surprise. In the early years it offered some distinctive options besides just being the big boy in the group. The Dakota was the first truck below the full-size range to offer a V-8 and there was even a convertible version available from 1989 to 1991. But now in its third generation, the Dakota is only offered in one length with either an extended cab or crew cab body bolted onto the frame.
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Throughout its lifespan the Dakota managed to survive three different parent companies and one nameplate change, but its death was imminent. Since the redesign of the Dodge Durango and the cancellation of the Mitsubishi Raider, the Dakota's platform has been an orphan. Durings its twenty-five year run Dodge/Ram sold over 2,750,000 Dakotas, but recent sales (2010) only account for less than .5% of that. The writing was on the wall - or the ledger, as the case may be.
Chrysler does have plans to use the Dakota name again soon, however. According to parent company Fiat, the new Dakota will be more of a "lifestyle" unibody vehicle (think more Honda Ridgeline and less Dodge Rampage.) So, say goodnight to the Dakota...at least as a real truck.
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