Though the Dodge Dakota was officially discontinued after its 2011 model year, it wasn't because it was a poor vehicle. In fact, the mid-size pickup truck boasted a lot of great features that you wouldn't find in other mid-size trucks on the market, such as its optional V8 engine and rack and pinion steering - both firsts for this class of truck. The Dakota even earned a nomination for North American Truck of the Year in 2000. Though the Dakota was in production for 25 years, it was discontinued due to the decline in popularity of pickup trucks following the "Great Recession," among other reasons - notably its lack of fuel efficiency. In fact, on the note of decreased popularity, consider that only 12,156 Dakotas were sold in the 2011 year, a far cry from the 177,395 that were sold at its peak in 2000.
The Dodge Dakota went through three generations. The first generation spanned from 1987-1996, the second from 1997-2004, and the third from 2005-2011. The first generation Dakota aimed to establish the truck as a mid-sized vehicle that was larger than many of its competitors, yet smaller than its Ram sister brand. It was originally offered with either a four-cylinder or V6 engine, and offered a truck bed of either six or eight feet.
The second generation Dakota included a four-door model version and also permanently did away with the four-cylinder engine in 2002, as it became only available in V6 or V8 options following that model year. The third generation featured a longer and wider body. After Chrysler restructured via bankruptcy, the Dakota became a member of the Ram lineup in 2010.
The Dakota was discontinued as of August 23, 2011, though reports suggest it could eventually make a comeback. Chrysler has yet to confirm anything.
As we noted, the Dakota was the first mid-size truck to offer an optional V8 engine, so certainly it was powerful, as it could generate up to 302 horsepower and tow up to nearly 5,000 pounds (third-generation Dakotas were able to tow a best-in-class 7,000 pounds). Overall, the Dakota provides an adequate driving experience, thanks mostly to its front-shock modules and rear spring assemblies that aim to not only improve the ride, but also how the vehicle handles.
While the Dakotas used value is likely boosted a bit by its discontinuation, the vehicle itself has depreciated fairly well. In fact, depending on the year, trim, and engine, among other obvious factors such as condition, mileage, et cetera, Dakotas range anywhere from about $8,500 to about $24,000 in value. However, it is worth considering that pickup trucks typically hold their value better than other vehicles. In fact, it's estimated that trucks less than 10 years old only drop about one to two percent in value, where other vehicles may drop by as much as 15 percent.
One of the biggest reasons that led to the Dakota's discontinuation was its poor fuel economy. Upon discontinuation, the Dakota V6 was only achieving 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway, which wasn't deemed good fuel economy for a vehicle considered to be a mid-sized truck. The V8 did even worse, at 14 mpg city and 18 mpg highway. Part of this poor fuel economy had to do with the option of a V8 engine, while an outdated transmission with a limited number of gears also factored into its low mpg. Specifically, the Dakota's four- or five-speed transmissions were older technologies, as 2010 to 2011 was around the time that nine-speed transmissions were entering the market.