NASHVILLE – The Chrysler Group’s Hemi 5.7L V-8 may be the most famous engine in the nation, but Chrysler is drawing the line on the expanding list of vehicles using the deal-clinching power plant. The engine isn’t in the plan for Dodge’s all-new ’05 Dakota midsize pickup.

All-new Dakota has class-exclusive V-8, but not the Hemi.

The ’05 Dakota will have a class-exclusive V-8 as an option when it goes on sale in October, but it won’t be the Hemi. Instead, Dakota will offer Chrysler’s 4.7L SOHC V-8 at launch, as well as a high-output variant of the same engine that will be available in January.

The new Dakota’s base engine is the 3.7L SOHC V-6 available in the current Dakota and the Jeep Liberty.

Despite the burgeoning halo effect of the Hemi – it is being snapped up at a vociferous rate in the Dodge Ram and Ram heavy duty pickups, Durango SUV and Chrysler 300/Dodge Magnum – Chrysler planners and engineers say the Dakota and the Hemi won’t be meeting on the Warren, MI, truck plant assembly line, where the Dakota is built. (See related story: Hemi Take Rates Soaring)

There are several reasons the Hemi, a key factor in strong sales for everything it powers, isn’t slated for ’05 Dakota duty, says Bill Rotramel, director-vehicle development, Body-on-Frame Product Team.

First and foremost, the Hemi doesn’t fit. “It would require extensive modification of the structure,” Rotramel says.

The Dakota’s fully boxed frame is all new but was not designed to accept the Hemi, which is physically larger than the 4.7L V-8 that serves as the Dakota’s upgrade engine option.

“There’s no plan to go there,” he says of using the Hemi for the Dakota. “We’re not going there in this product that I know of.”

Moreover, Rotramel adds, the Hemi isn’t in the product plan for a future high-performance SRT variant of the Dakota, although one already has been rumored. In fact, Rotramel says there currently is “no plan” for a Dakota SRT variant at all, with or without the Hemi.

“The SRT group is a different organization (from Chrysler vehicle development), but as far as I know, there’s no (planned) SRT,” says Rotramel.

Rotramel and other Chrysler executives also suggest the Hemi – and perhaps an SRT variant – may not be high priorities for customers in the Dakota segment.

Midsize-pickup buyers, says Mark G. Mallie-product planning specialist, Truck Business Operations, are more concerned about affordability, fuel economy and other factors that do not necessarily align with performance-oriented models or high-performance engines such as the Hemi.