The MyGIG Multimedia Infotainment System stores your dozens of CD's worth of music and pictures in its 20GB memory for easy playback, anytime. A USB interface is also included. For 2008, the MyGIG also includes a full navigation system with turn-by-turn directions. The screen measures 6-1/2 inches and can be used to view photos stored on the hard drive. The system also responds to voice commands. Additional optional electronics include the convenience of Bluetooth connectivity for your cell phone-try it, you'll like it-and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Overall, the interior looks better and uses better-designed, higher-quality materials than the previous-generation truck. Also, because of the full integration of the electronics, you may not want to mess with a good thing when it comes to the audio system. The only weak area is the speaker system, and that's easy enough to improve.

Under The Hood
Power is one of the reasons that fullsize trucks outsell everything that's not fullsize. There's not another midsize out there that offers true V-8 power, except the Dakota. And the V-8 has been a Dakota exclusive since the '90 model year. Back then, it was the Chrysler 318ci 5.2L engine, an updated version of the "LA" block that was introduced in 1964 as a 273-cid.

Today, the V-8 you'll get is the fully modern overhead-cam 4.7L mill. Keep in mind that while the 4.7L has been around since the late-'90s, referred to as the 4.7L Magnum, the motor you'll find in the '08 Dakota is significantly improved. Insiders call it the Corsair. Refinements include major revisions to the induction system, dual-plug combustion chambers, a higher static compression ratio, reduced reciprocating mass via a lightweight piston/ rod assembly, and reduced accessory drive speed-yup, the factory put on an under-drive pulley. A new valve lash adjuster system smooths the engine at idle, while electronic throttle control adds economy. The result is 302 hp, a 31 percent increase, and 329 lb-ft of torque, a 13 percent increase. This means that this truck engine is pumping out more than 1 horsepower per cubic inch. Impressive. For you non-math types, the 4.7 liters equals 287 cubes.

A five-speed automatic is the only trans to back this engine. Fuel economy for the complete powertrain is up about 5 percent compared to 2007, coming in at 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway for two-wheel-drive models.

While the V-8 is optional for Dakota, the standard motor is related to the original 4.7L Magnum. The 3.7L V-6 -a 4.7L with two fewer cylinders- pumps out 210 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque. You can get the V-6 with a very nice shifting six-speed manual gearbox made by Getrag, or you can opt for a mundane four-speed automatic. Both provide adequate acceleration, but the only reason to go with them is because you don't want to spend the money for stronger engine.

After looking at the V-6's economy figures, it seems strange that the V-6 doesn't give you any better economy than the V-8. Dodge better address this if they want to add another reason for buyers to consider Dakota.

As for what's offered by the direct competition, there's nothing on par from Ford with the Ranger, and Chevy's Colorado still won't have the longrumored V-8 that's fitted to the Hummer h3 Alpha (built on the Colorado's same platform). The Colorado/GMC Canyon twins make do with a 3.7L double overhead cam five- cylinder with variable valve timing that is rated at 242 hp (180 kW) and 242 lb-ft of torque. With such a huge power advantage, the Dodge will be winning every stoplight drag if it's running the V-8.

Like you'd expect from a truck like the Dakota, the powertrain can be rear- or four-wheel-drive. There are two 4x4 systems, one part-time and the other full-time. Both give you a two-speed transfer case with locked high and Low ranges. But remember, if you're going for a slammed look, stick with a rear-wheel-drive truck because it's easier to lower.