With a name cribbed from legendary Mopar muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s, the Dakota R/T was all about tire-smoking driving excitement. Dodge's midsize "muscle truck" featured a big V-8 under the hood, a beefed-up drivetrain and an aggressive, monotone paint job. The 2003 model year was the last for this American performance machine.
Exterior & Interior Dimensions
The Dakota R/T was offered in two body styles: regular cab and Club Cab. Both versions came with a 6.5-foot cargo bed. While there was also a four-door Quad Cab Dakota, it was not available with the R/T package.
The regular-cab truck measured 196 inches long, 71.6 inches wide and 66 inches high and sat on a 112-inch wheelbase. The Club Cab was 215.1 inches long, 71.6 inches wide and 66.1 inches high. It had a 131-inch wheelbase.
The regular-cab Dakota's interior provided 40.0 inches of headroom, 57.2 inches of shoulder room, 54.9 inches of hip room and 41.9 inches of legroom. The Club Cab's front row had the same measurements, while its back seat offered 36.8 inches of headroom, 54.7 inches of shoulder room, 53.1 inches of hip room and 32.1 inches of legroom.
The Dakota R/T was powered by Dodge's 5.9-liter Magnum V-8. It produced 250 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 345 foot-pounds of torque at 3,200 rpm. The only transmission choice was the heavy-duty, 46RE four-speed automatic. In order to maximize on-road performance, the Dakota R/T was available with rear-wheel drive only; a four-wheel-drive version was not offered.
The Dakota R/T's straight-line performance was quite impressive for a pickup truck. It could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and complete a quarter-mile sprint in just a hair over 15 seconds.
The Dodge's work-truck credentials were less impressive, however. It had a maximum towing capacity of just 1,800 pounds and a maximum payload capacity of 970 pounds.
The RT Package
While the Magnum V-8 under the hood was the clear star of the show, the R/T package also included a host of additional upgrades. It came with a performance-tuned suspension, quicker steering gear, thicker stabilizer bars front and rear, sticky P255/55R17 tires and a ride height that was an inch lower than the standard Dakota.
The R/T package also included a limited-slip differential, a performance rear axle, special 17-inch cast aluminum wheels, a performance exhaust system and bucket front seats.
Standard safety features included four-wheel ABS and dual front air bags. Side curtain airbags were available as an option. Traction control, ironically, was not offered.
As one would expect of a high-performance, V-8-powered pickup, the Dakota R/T was a serious gas-guzzler. It was EPA-rated at 12 mpg in the city and 16 mpg on the highway.
Back in 2003 when it was new, the Dakota RT had a starting price of $24,150. As of 2014, Kelley Blue Book reports that a well-maintained used example is worth about $3,190 to $3,850.
- Photo Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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