2021 Ram Dakota: Expected to arrive sometime later this year, this new truck will be cheaper and smaller than the half-ton Ram 1500. While it could share some components with its larger sibling, we think it’ll be based largely on the Jeep Gladiator, which earned a spot on our 2020 10Best list following the Jeep’s debut.
The resurrected Dakota will also compete against the recently revived Ford Ranger as well as mid-size alternatives that include the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Toyota Tacoma. While we’re awaiting further details on the 2021 Ram Dakota, here’s what we know so far.
ENGINE AND IMPLEMENTATION
No matter if the Dakota is a downsized version of the Ram 1500 or a re-bodied Gladiator, its selection of engine options is pretty straightforward. While there’s virtually no chance that a V-8 is in the cards, the 3.6-liter V-6 that’s used across Fiat Chrysler’s lineup is a sure bet.
It will probably pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission and both rear- and all-wheel drive. Another potential engine option is the brand’s recently introduced diesel 3.0-liter V-6, which generates 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque.
The 2021 Ram Dakota will surely have an off-road-oriented model to challenge similar offerings from its mid-size rivals. We can imagine a Rebel trim level that has a rugged appearance, beefier suspension, underbody skid plates, and knobbier tires.
ENERGY AND REAL-WORLD MPG
Neither the EPA nor Ram has released any information on fuel-economy estimates for the forthcoming Dakota. Once its city and highway ratings are made public, and we have a chance to test the mid-size pickup truck on our 200-mile highway route, we can evaluate its real-world mpg.
INTERIOR, CONVENIENCE, AND BOOTH
We suspect the Dakota will have similar interior styling to the Ram 1500, although it probably won’t live up to that pickup’s luxurious standards. Still, the smaller pickup should provide a plethora of standard and optional amenities.
This will probably include a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, wireless charging, and more. The lineup will definitely be offered with a crew cab and likely a smaller extended cab.
However, since even the roomiest mid-size trucks—aside from the Honda Ridgeline—don’t have very spacious back seats, we doubt the 2021 Ram Dakota will be any different. It also should offer both short and long cargo beds, and we’re confident that Ram will fill every model with an assortment of creative storage solutions.
IN-VEHICLE INFOTAINMENT AND INTERCONNECTIONS
While the Ram 1500 offers a huge vertically oriented 12.0-inch touchscreen, we’re not sure that that infotainment system will be shared with the 2021 Ram Dakota. We’re confident that the mid-size pickup will at least be available with an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
The company’s excellent Uconnect system is currently offered on myriad other models and comes with desirable content that includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Base models will likely have a more basic setup, but should still have the aforementioned features.
PROTECTION AND DRIVER-ASSISTANCE ASPECTS
It will likely be equipped with an assortment of standard and optional driver-assistance technology. The roster should include features such as adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and more.