2022 Ram Dakota is a Mitsubishi, RAV4 TRD vs RAV4 Adventure and Nissan’s Reliability? [Ask Nathan]

By Nathan Adlen – March 31, 2019

No, it’s not the 2022 Ram Dakota… it is Andre and Nathan in South Dakota!

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.

  • 2022 Ram Dakota is a Mitsubishi?  
  • Toyota RAV4 Adventure vs Toyota RAV4 TRD? 
  • Are Nissans (still) reliable? 

The first question comes from a fan who wants more information on the 2022 Ram Dakota – or what ever they name it. He heard that it’s shaping up to be a re-skinned Mitsubishi.

Photo: Mitsubishi Triton Absolute Concept

Q: Is there more on the 2022 Ram Dakota?

Hi, I’m wondering if the 2022 Ram Dakota is just a Mitsubishi Triton (L200) with a new skin? I would imagine they might build it with some Ram 1500 parts to keep it in the family. But what would they do to make it actually compete?

Are they even going to build it?


Photo: Mitsubishi Triton Absolute Concept

A: Hi !

Here’s what we do know: the (yet-to-be officially named midsize truck that we’re calling the 2022 Ram Dakota) will be built in Toledo, Ohio in the same facility as the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck. You can read more about that (here).

Check out FCA’s official future product plan below and you’ll see a covered 2022 midsize pickup truck. So, at least for now, it’s coming.

Photo: FCA

Here’s what’s been speculated:

  • It may have some Jeep Gladiator components being that it’s built at the same assembly facility. Mabe the same frame? Using some of the underpinnings from the Mitsubishi Triton (L200) could make sense and FCA already builds a version of the Triton overseas.
  • It’s a pretty good bet that the Pentastar V6 and, possibly the 2-liter turbo may make an appearance. I doubt the V6 diesel would be used; however, a more frugal, less torquey I4 diesel could be in the mix.
  • There’s lots of talk about a plug-in hybrid as well. That would keep it in line with previous FCA declarations about electrifying their modern fleet. It would also make it the only plug-in hybrid in the class. Actually, until Ford or GM introduce their plug-in hybrids, it could be the only plug-in hybrid sold in North America. That’s IF they beat the competition to the punch.
This test-mule might be the 2022 Ram Dakota. This is a FWD-biased vehicle. Photo: Autoevolution
  • You can read more about the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck (here).
  • The same eight-speed automatic and, possibly the six-speed manual out of the Jeep Gladiator may turn up. FCA may stick to the Ram 1500’s rotary dial-style transmission for the eight-speed.
  • It will most likely be the value leader in the class. While it will definitely undercut the Jeep Gladiator in price, it will not offer as much off-road capability or tech. It’s doubtful it will outperform the Gladiator’s load and towing numbers too.
  • Some persistent rumors still linger about the 2022 Ram Dakota being a front-wheel-drive biased, unibody/unit-body vehicle that’s akin to the Honda Ridgeline. Ford is rumored to be working on a similar vehicle for our market.
  • You can read more about the (possible) FWD-biased Ram Dakota (here).
  • If there is a FWD-biased 2022 Ram Dakota pickup, it’s likely to have a similar power-plant to the Jeep Cherokee. That means it could still have a Pentastar V6, a turbocharged 2-liter and a possible plug-in hybrid variant. It would most likely have a nine-speed automatic transmission offered. A manual would be doubtful.

That’s about all the speculation I have for you this week. Now that the Jeep Gladiator is out, we will be refocusing our efforts on finding out more about the 2022 Ram Dakota – or whatever they decide to call it.

Can’t wait! 


2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

The next question comes from a fan who’s looking at comparing the Toyota RAV4 Adventure vs the upcoming (2020) Toyota RAV4 TRD.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD – Photo: Toyota

Q: Do you think the proposed Rav4 TRD upgrades are worth it or does the Adventure sound like enough car for us?

Hey guys, LOVE your reviews! They appear simple, non-biased, and reasonably comprehensive for the limits of a short video review! For this I give you all big props and much respect for your efforts and what you do!
Ok, might be a question for Nathan, but here goes if y’all had the time. My wife and I are basically a 75% in city and 25% on trail family, but when we’re on trail we are always searching for BLM campsites throughout the front range, central mountains, Moab, Zion, etc, which you know can be light, moderate, or big-time off road.

We stick to the light stuff but happy to dip our toes into the moderate so long there are just a few sections worth (as in Parts 1 and 2 in your Gold Mine Hill tests—think the 4th of July Trailhead and camping at the west side of Gross Reservoir as the majority of ‘off-roading’ that we do, we just want a vehicle that we can feel confident in doing these trails/roads.) The 4Runner feels like too much car for us, and now that the Rav4 comes with an adventure trim we’ve been eyeballing it pretty hard, and moreover, are considering the Rav4 TRD given the tire and suspension upgrades. 

So here goes:1. Do you think the proposed Rav4 TRD upgrades are worth it or does the Adventure sound like enough car for us? (We don’t know how much the 2020 TRD will list for yet)2. I’m lucky enough to have an uncle who is a new car manager for Toyota, so we get a pretty good deal with Toyota. He’s biased and knows nothing of off-roading outside of what Toyota says the vehicles can do, and everyone else we’ve talked to seem biased toward their current vehicles. Are we pigeon-holing ourselves by focusing on the Rav4? Would we be foolish not to consider similar vehicles such as the CRV/Passport, Outback/Forester, Compass/Cherokee? Once we slap off-road rated tires on the vehicle are they all going to perform about the same performance-wise, and instead, should we just focus on interior comforts/accessories?3. Any buying advice you’d like to give would be much appreciated. 

Thank you tremendously for your time, efforts, and advice. I look forward to your response and all of your future reviews!

Kindly, Eddie

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure and 2019 Honda Passport. Photo: TFLcar

A: Thanks Eddie! 

As of right now, barring any additional components yet to be announced, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD appears to be little more than an appearance package with (what appear to be) more aggressive tires. There are no additional skid-plates, beefed up suspension or other performance enhancements.

Bottom line: the regular Toyota RAV4 Adventure is on-par with the TRD. I’m sure more aggressive tires would be a benefit, but aftermarket tires (I like BFG KO2s) are most likely less expensive than the price for an appearance upgrade like the TRD.

Hopefully, Toyota will offer real off-road enhancements in a future TRD Pro model. Then it could be “game on!”

As for competition, there are a few things to keep in mind:

The Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, and even the Jeep Compass Trailhawk are better for slightly more extreme off-road driving. Especially the Cherokee – it’s the best off-road crossover in its class currently being built. I like the Compass too, but it’s underpowered.

The new Honda Passport is outstanding in most ways, but it’s much larger and far more expensive than the Toyota. Personally, with the potential discount you can get for the Toyota, that’s the direction I would go. Honestly, the Honda could use a tire and wheel package to make it more competent off-road.

I hear good things about the Subaru Forester off-road, however some complain about the CVT and lack of power. Keep in mind: Ford will be introducing an off-road-biased crossover based on the 2020 Ford Escape platform too. It’s being called the “Baby Bronco” by some and it should go toe-to-toe with the RAV4 Adventure and Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. We expect good things.

By the way, a video and written preview will be posted this Tuesday, April 2nd – on the 2020 Ford Escape.

Thanks again for your email and let us know what you decide to buy!


2015, nissan, juke, 0-60 mph, track, video, review
2015 Nissan Juke – Photo: TFLcar

The last question comes from a Nissan owner who’s concerned about the reliability of his new Nissan Versa Note.

(Via Twitter @NathanAdlen) Hi Nathan and crew!

Been hearing lots of negative stuff about Nissan reliability recently. A nameless mechanic who’s popular right now says they are all junk. Especially CVTs. So my used 2015 Nissan Versa Note is a manual, but my wife has a regular Versa with a CVT and over the past four years, no problem.

My most reliable car was a 1998 Nissan Sentra I bought new. It had over 200,000 miles when I traded it in on my wife’s Versa. It still ran pretty good on its original engine and transmission. I did replace the clutch twice but that’s not bad for so many miles in hard driving in Dallas.

So am I in trouble with my devotion to Nissan? Every armchair expert tells me I’ve made a bad decision. Now with the company in termoil and all of this negative press, should I be looking elswere in the future? I have paid off my wife’s car with 60,000 miles on it and just got my CPO Versa Note.

They don’t even build a manual Versa Note any more. That kind of upsets me because the CVT is pretty slow.

You guys have great access to Nissan products and their people. Do you see things differently than the other guys? I trust you guys implicently. I think you give everything a fair shake and you’re honest about your preferences. I like that.

What do you think Nathan?

Rick and Barbra Dallas, TX

A:  Hi! 

2016 Nissan Versa Note – Photo: Nissan

Hi Rick, thanks for the message!

If you were to look up Nissan’s reliability on various websites belonging to consumer advocacy groups, you would find the company to be about mid-pack. While they trail Toyota and Honda (many internet-famous’ favorites) they hold up well against others.

Yes, the CVT (continuously variable transmission) has been linked to many complaints. I’m not a big fan of the CVTs performance in general, but the folks I know who own CVT Nissans have had few issues to date. It is said that improvements to the powertrain are reportedly top priority for the automaker.

We don’t have the great access to their products you might think. It’s hot and cold with Nissan, it depends on the product and our personal standing with their PR team. We don’t know exactly why. It might be that some of their new offerings and ideas are pretty cool, but others leave us scratching our heads.

With that being said, I own a 2008 Nissan Pathfinder. It is one of the best vehicles I’ve owned for years. It’s tough, capable, utilitarian and very reliable. My wife often drives it in bad weather and, other than poor gas mileage – I couldn’t be happier.

Sure, things are a bit topsy-turvy at Nissan. They need to reestablish themselves as a leader. They need new, dynamic leadership and more competitive products. I think cost-cutting products while being over-lavish in other departments hasn’t helped them since the Renault merger.

Still, they have some talented designers and some of their products are damn good. I’m a big fan of their trucks and I see some nifty EV products coming up soon. They still build a few vehicles with a manual options too.

Look, if you’re pleased with the way your cars are working, if the cars makes you happy and they are reliable – that makes Nissan a good automaker. Right? Don’t let the sensationalization of the net get you down.


Speaking of Nissan against the competition…