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MSRP Range: $20,470 - $32,135
Fuel Economy: 16 MPG city / 20 MPG highway

Biggest, most powerful midsize pickup.

The Dodge Dakota looks big. It looks nearly as big and tough as the full-size Dodge Ram. And, in fact, it is big. It's the biggest pickup in the midsize class. It's also available with a V8. And its 7,050-pound maximum towing capacity is the best in the class. You might say Dakota is the midsize pickup with a full-size attitude with muscle to back it up.

It's also an easy truck to live with. Getting in is easy, and the interior is comfortable and convenient, with controls that are easy to reach and operate. The rear doors on Extended Cabs and Crew Cabs open wide, and the Crew Cab can accommodate six people. A new under-seat storage system for Crew Cabs provides useful cargo carrying capacity. The Extended Cab has earned five-star safety ratings in both front and side impact testing by the federal government (NHTSA).

Underway, the Dakota is smooth and quiet. The optional 4.7-liter V8 is improved for 2008, with more power and better fuel economy. It burbles subtly in the background when cruising, but really scoots when the throttle is mashed. It is also flex-fuel capable, meaning it can run on gasoline or up to 85 percent ethanol. The steering is light for easy maneuverability in crowded parking lots and the Dakota responds quickly on mountain roads and tracks nice and straight on the highway.

For 2008, Dakota gets several significant changes: The 4.7-liter V8 is boosted to 302 horsepower (from 230). The former 260-hp high-output version is no longer available (for obvious reasons).

On the outside, the hood, grille, front fascia, headlights, fenders and rear spoiler have been modified for 2008, and built-in cargo box utility rails have been added. Inside, the instrument panel and center console are new for 2008, Dodge's MyGIG navigation system/radio is newly available with a 20-gigabyte hard drive, heated bench seats are offered, and the Crew Cab body style's rear seats get an underseat, collapsible storage system.

If you want a pickup that's big and brawny, but not as big as a full-size, the Dodge Dakota fits the bill. 

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