Apparently a test mule was spotted rocking an independent suspension.
The mid-size Dodge Dakota pickup truck lasted from 1987 to 2011 before it was killed off and the larger Dodge Ram was spun off into its own Ram brand. Rumors of a new Dakota have been circulating for years now with FCA denying most of them but the recent merger with PSA Groupe has kept the speculation going.
In fact, an Automotive News reader named Danny Katzenstein spotted what is believed to be a test mule for a new Dakota. Auto News believes a new Dakota could share a platform with the mid-size Jeep Gladiator but Katzenstein believes what he saw looked like an entirely different truck.
"[It] looked like a Gladiator, but at closer inspection, was a loosely assembled old Dakota with an 'M' plate," Katzenstein said, referring to what is known as a manufacturer plate. The truck also appeared to have an independent suspension. We wouldn't be surprised if the Dakota was based on the Gladiator's platform but utilized a more mainstream cab, lighter frame, and different suspension.
The Gladiator is marketed as a lifestyle vehicle for people who love to go off-roading, so a cheaper body with more conventional suspension might be more profitable if FCA can build it cheaply enough. Since this new truck would be built alongside the Gladiator on the same production line, we expect it to use the same range of engines.
FCA is also rumored to be working on a global pickup truck that could be built in China. This global truck would likely be sold as a Peugeot and would bear no resemblance to the rumored Dakota. Mid-size trucks have struggled to match the sales volume of their full-size counterparts, so we wouldn't be shocked if these Dakota rumors didn't pan out. It will be interesting to see if any more test mules are spotted, signaling that FCA is working on a new truck.