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2005 4x4 Truck Of The Year

Truck Of The Year
Posted February 1, 2005

4x4 that needs a few years of development to get dialed in.

LikesBest-in-test limited slipSatellite radioSuperb steering feel

DislikesABS pulsates back at the driverHarsh ride on anything but new pavementUncomfortable seats

VerdictFreshman 4x4 that needs a few years of development to get dialed in.

Dodge Dakota Quad Cab LaramieThe '05 Dodge Dakota is the latest revamp of the midsize truck that created the segment. However, in a year of redesigned pickups with more power and selectable lockers, the Dakota got lost in the mix with no new gimmicks, but earth shattering engine power, and no outrageous styling. Now don't get us wrong; this Dakota is perfectly capable of hauling a load and getting you up the trail, but its white-bread approach didn't win over any of our judges. We know full well that Dodge has a 4.7L high-output (250+ hp, 300+ lb-ft) and a 5.7L Hemi (345 hp, 375 lb-ft) engine in its arsenal, and we wish it had put one of them in this truck! How could we not be underwhelmed with the 4.7L V-8 engine we tested when it was outgunned by both the Nissan (265 hp, 284 lb-ft) and Toyota (245 hp, 282 lb-ft) V-6s. It was even outgrunted by the Liberty's 2.8L (160 hp, 295 lb-ft) turbodiesel. Power-to-weight ratio plays a big part in this test, and if a 4x4 is overweight or underpowered, it typically sinks to the bottom of the 4x4 of the Year barrel.

None of us fell in love with the looks of the new Dakota's Dodge Ram-light styling either. Though last year's Durango was similarly received and has finally started to grow on us, we think a new set of wheels, aggressive tires, and a taller ride height would go far to improve this truck's looks. Judging by how well the Dakota did perform in the rocks and hillclimbs, we feel the platform has the potential to be a capable 4x4 that could rival the best from Toyota and Nissan-but it's just not there yet. The truck sits too low and has none of the off-road hardware that the competition is pumping into the market.

Judges were much less critical of the all-new interior, save a few of our testers who felt the seats were unsupportive and poorly suited to the truck's rigid rear suspension. We all liked the functional layout of the dash, the quiet ride, and the perfect match of bed space to rear seat room for our needs. The Dakota's impressive Infinity sound system and Sirius satellite radio also helped make the highway miles fly by and keep us sane on some of the longer hauls through California's FM radio-resistant back highways. But the final nail in the Dakota's coffin came on the last day of testing when the front differential grenaded on the closed-course hillclimb portion of the test.


Manufacturer Dodge
Model Dakota Quad Cab Laramie
Base Price $28,679
Price as Tested $33,459
Options as Tested Customer Preferred
Package 26J (Trailer Tow Group, Heavy-Duty Service Group, heavy-duty engine cooling, auxiliary transmission cooler, power 6x9 multifunction mirrors, Class IV hitch receiver, 750-amp battery, 7-pin wiring harness, heated exterior mirrors), 4-wheel antilock brakes, supplemental restraint airbags, side curtain airbags, five-speed automatic transmission, 3.92:1 axle ratio, antispin differential, 4.7L Magnum engine, sliding rear window, heated front seats, Sirius satellite radio, 17x8 aluminum chrome-clad wheels, P265/65R17 tires, under-rail bedliner

Type OHV V-8
Displacement (liters/cubic inches) 4.7/287
Bore & Stroke (inches) 3.66x3.40
Compression Ratio 9.0:1
Induction Type Sequential, multiport fuel injection
Fuel Req. (octane)/Capacity (gal.) 87/22
SAE Peak Horsepower 230 @ 4,{{{600}}} rpm
SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft) 295 @ 3,600 rpm
Type Five-speed automatic overdrive
Model 545RFE
Ratios First: 3.00:1; Second: 1.67:1 (upshift), 1.50:1 (kickdown); Third: 1.00:1; Fourth: 0.75:1; Fifth: 0.67:1 Reverse: 3.00:1
Transfer Case
Type Two-speed part time
Model NV233 HD
Low-range Ratio 2.72:1
Front Type IFS
Rear Type Solid axle with limited slip
Hubs N/A
Ratio 3.92:1
Front Upper and lower A-arms w/torsion bars
Rear Live axle, four-leaf longitudinal springs
Type Power rack-and-pinion
Turns Lock-to-Lock/Ratio 3.25/17.4:1
Turning Radius (feet) 44
Size (inches) 17x8
Material Cast-aluminum
Size P265/65R17
Brand Goodyear {{{Wrangler}}} SR-A
Front 12.3-inch discs
Rear 11.6-inch discs with ABS
60-0 (feet) 132.5
Standing 11/44-mile (seconds @ mph) 18.49 @ 73.91
Weight (pounds)
Curb Weight 4,413
Advertised GVWR 6,010
EPA Estimate (city/hwy. mpg) 15/20
As Tested (mpg) 14.21
Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase 131.25
Overall Length 218.5
Overall Width 86.75
Overall Height 68.5
Front/Rear Track 63.125/63
Front/Rear Overhang 38.25/47.5
Min. Front Ground Clearance 7.5
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