2005-2011 Dodge/Ram Dakota
Upgrading the stereo system in your Dakota
2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Dakota's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your pickup.
Overview of the Dodge Dakota
In a world where everything from sodas to laundry detergent is available in super-duper-mega-xtreme-grande size, it can be challenging to find something that's "just right." Is a half-gallon of cola really a smart idea for a long road trip? What good is a jug of detergent so heavy that you need a shot of HGH to lift the thing up to the washer?
Bigger can be better, of course, but not everyone needs a pickup truck that can tow a mobile home through a muddy field. Some people just need a comfortable, cool-looking truck that's fun to drive during the week and tough enough to haul stuff on weekends. Trucks like that are getting harder to find new, but there still are plenty of older ones on the road — for good reason.
The Dodge (or, starting in 2010, Ram) Dakota was one of the last of the true "mid-size" pickups. Available in Club Cab (later changed to Extended Cab) and 4-door Quad Cab models, the Dakota is a terrific truck for people who know exactly how much truck they need and why. And once you've found the right truck, you might as well fill it with just the right stereo.
The Dakota's base radio looked like this from 2005-07. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo system
The Dakota's standard stereo was a rather basic unit. The optional systems, from Infinity in 2005 and Alpine in 2006 and thereafter, were quite a bit better, but they're still factory systems. If sound matters, you'll undoubtedly want to upgrade.
On the 2005-2007 trucks, the factory radio is somewhat oddly sized, so while single-DIN (2" tall) receivers will fit into the cavity (with an adapter), double-DIN (4" tall) models won't. Receivers with fold-down faces are, alas, not an option because they can't open properly in this truck.
When you replace the radio, you'll lose the factory satellite radio capability and the factory hands-free cell phone interface (if present) won't work anymore, either. Both are quite easy to replace with a new receiver.
Thanks to a revamped dash design, you can choose from a wider variety of single- and double-DIN (4" tall) receivers for the 2008-2011 models. When you replace the factory radio on these trucks, you'll lose the factory nav system and satellite radio capability. Depending on the adapter you choose, you might also lose UConnect and front-to-rear fade control.
The 2008-11 Dakota dash (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory radio
The Dakota's factory radios are reasonably easy to remove, regardless of which dash configuration you're working with. The illustrated, step-by-step instructions in the Crutchfield MasterSheet included with your order will show you everything you need to do.
You'll need a dash kit to install the new radio, and it's available at a discount with your Crutchfield stereo purchase.
The challenge with this truck is in the wiring. You'll need a stereo integration adapter to make the stereo work with the truck's electronics and factory amplifier (if present). Fortunately, like the installation kit, the wiring adapter is available at a steep discount with your order.
Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions
The Dakota's Infinity and Alpine systems include an amplifier, which is located behind the passenger's side kick panel. The integration adapter provides 12V accessory power and allows the use of the factory amp. Installation instructions are supplied with the adapter.
For these earlier models, there's also a wiring harness available that lets you bypass the amp by running wires to the kickpanel location. If your truck doesn’t have a factory amp, just follow the instructions supplied with the wiring adapter.
The Dakota's new-for-2008 dash fits either single-DIN or double-DIN receivers, so you have a wide range of great stereos to choose from. If you're installing a double-DIN receiver, you'll need to cut out the metal rear support bracket in the dash cavity to make room.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, “stubby” Phillips screwdriver, panel tool (2008-2011)
Steering wheel audio controls
It's relatively easy to retain your Dakota's steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.
The Dakota's front doors will hold a variety of speaker sizes. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory speakers
While the dashboards differ, the Dodge Dakota's speaker set-ups stayed the same, regardless of radio, throughout the third generation. You'll find factory speakers in the front doors in all Dakotas. The Club/Extended Cab has speakers in the rear side panels, while Quad Cab trucks have speakers in the rear doors.
Front door speakers
The factory speakers (woofers, in the case of the Infinity or Alpine systems) can be replaced by a variety of 5-1/4", 6-1/2", or 6-3/4" speakers. Most 6-3/4" speakers come with their own special mounting brackets to fit Chrysler/GM vehicles, while the brackets needed for the smaller models are included with your Crutchfield order at a very nice discount. You may need to modify the bracket by grinding off some material.
These speakers are located at the bottom front of each door, and once you remove the door panel, they're reasonably easy to remove and replace. Complete instructions can be found in your Crutchfield MasterSheet.
Alpine-equipped Dakotas have 2-ohm factory door speakers. Replacing them with higher-impedance speakers will result in lower volume levels, so keep that in mind when choosing new speakers.
Trucks equipped with the Infinity or Alpine systems have 4-ohm tweeters in the sail panels. You'll get to them by removing the door panels (which you'll do anyway when you replace the woofers), then removing the sail panel. Replacing them is no big deal, but you'll need to use a set of our universal backstraps to hold them in place, since there are no mounting brackets available.
If your truck doesn't have factory tweeters, adding a set of component speakers will require some creative problem solving and fabrication skills. If you're not sure this is your sort of DIY project, you might want to turn the job over to a car audio professional.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, Torx T-20 driver, small flatblade Phillips screwdriver, panel tool
The Club Cab's speakers are in the side panels. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear speakers — Club Cab
The 6-3/4" rear side panel speakers in the Club/Extended Cab Dakotas are pretty easy to deal with. You'll start by prying up the rear edge of the door scuff plate (just loosen it, don't remove it), then pull the rubber gasket from the door edge. Pry off the seat belt anchor cover, remove one Torx T50 bolt, and set the belt aside.
To remove the top pillar trim panel, pry from top edge to release the retaining clip, then pry from the bottom portion of lower pillar trim panel to release those clips. Set the trim panels aside, then remove three Torx T20 screws from the speaker, disconnect the harness and take the speaker out of the truck.
From here, hook up the new speaker, test it out, and, if everything sounds okay, start putting things back together. Make sure the safety belt is functioning properly before you hit the road.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, Torx T-20 and T-50 drivers, panel tool
A close-up view of a Quad Cab rear door speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear speakers — Quad Cab
The Quad Cab's rear door speakers, like the ones up front, can be replaced by a variety of 5-1/4", 6-1/2", or 6-3/4" speakers. You'll need mounting brackets for the smaller speakers, and you may need to modify them by grinding off some material.
These speakers are located at the bottom front of each door, and once you remove the door panel, they're reasonably easy to remove and replace. Complete disassembly instructions can be found in your Crutchfield MasterSheet.
Alpine-equipped Dakotas have 2-ohm factory door speakers. As with the front tweeters, replacing them will require some custom work.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, Torx T-20 driver, panel tool
Bass in your Dakota
Unless you're absolutely, positively never going to use the rear seating area in your Dakota to carry anything or anyone, ever, there's no room back there for a big set of subs in an enclosure. Then again, there's nothing stopping you from tearing everything out of there and building an absolutely epic box of subwoofers back there. If you do, please send pictures. It could be kinda cool, actually.
With space at a premium, we'd suggest looking into compact powered subwoofers for your Dakota.
Other options for your Dakota
Here are a few more ideas for making your Dakota an even better place to spend your work or play time.
A WeatherTech floor liner (actual appearance may vary).
Driving a truck eventually leads to doing truck-type things, which can take a toll on your Dakota's carpeting. WeatherTech floor mats and liners will help protect your floors from dirt and damage.
Just because a touchscreen nav receiver won't fit in your early Dakota doesn't mean you have to drive around lost. A portable GPS will mount on your dash and give you turn-by-turn directions, traffic updates, and everything you need to make your trip go smoothly. And when you get where you're going, you can put the GPS in your pocket and use it to find points of interest around town.
Installing a security system in your Dakota isn't easy (security systems almost never are), but the peace of mind is worth it. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.
Find the audio gear that fits your car or truck
Visit our Outfit My Car page and enter your vehicle information to see stereos, speakers, subs, and other audio accessories that will work in your vehicle.