DaimlerChrysler's Dodge Truck division unveiled three new vehicles at the Chicago Auto Show last month: the 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 cab chassis, Dodge Ram 5500 cab chassis and a mid-size Dodge Dakota pickup.

“With these new trucks, we now have a full line of Class 2 through 5 vehicles,” says Frank Klegon, executive vp-product development for Dodge Trucks. “That allows us to offer one-stop shopping to fulfill consumer and commercial needs alike.”

The 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs come standard with 6.7L Cummins diesel engines generating 305 hp. and 610 lb.-ft. of torque. According to Klegon, the engines can go 350,000 miles before their first overhaul.

A 6-sp. automatic or manual transmission is available — both PTO capable — along with a range of beefier enhancements: a standard 52-gal. fuel tank; bigger brake rotors (390 mm) and larger caliper pistons (66 mm) for greater stopping power; industry-standard 34-in. frame rail spacing; and a clean one-piece C-channel rear-frame rail built from rugged 50,000-psi steel.

Finally, dual-rear-wheel models and four cab-axle lengths (60, 84, 108 and 120 in.) are available. The GVW ratings of these new trucks range from 4,000 to 19,500 lb.

These trucks are part of DaimlerChrysler's BusinessLink service, says Charlie Chang, brand manager for cab chassis. “Working through our Business Link dealers allows fleets to reduce wait time for service and get loaner trucks all from one location, which greatly increases vehicle uptime for them,” Chang explains. “It handles everything for a fleet through our dedicated BusinessLink managers at these dealerships.

“We're also going to expand these offerings to try and incorporate smaller fleets into the program, the ones that operate one to 10 trucks,” he adds.

The 2008 Dodge Dakota pickup offers new interior and exterior styling, a bigger cab and longer bed, more towing capacity and more power, thanks to a new 4.7L V-8 engine producing 290 hp. (25% more than its previous engine offering) and 320 lb.-ft. of torque (a 10% increase), with superior fuel economy.

The new Dakota will be available starting in August. www.dodge.com