New Car/Review

Dodge

Dodge Dakota Quad-Cab 4WD (2000)

SEE ALSO: Dodge Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 21,615
     Price As Tested                                    $ 28,575
     Engine Type              SOHC 16-valve 4.7 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 287 cid/SMFI cc
     Horsepower                                   235 @ 4800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               295 @ 3200 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  131.0"/71.6"/215.1"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4492 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  24.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                         31/10.50R15 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Six-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 87 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            14/19/16          
     0-60 MPH                                       10.0 seconds
     Payload                                        1,450 pounds
     Towing capacity                                5,800 pounds
     * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Bob Hagin reflects on his first car, a '37 Dodge that kept breaking driveshafts. His son Matt wonders if it was one of the reasons his dad became a mechanic but he has his own memories of old Dodges.)

MATT - One of the first jobs I had as a fledgling mechanic was to help your friend Butch work on a '25 Dodge Brothers pickup. At 14, I only wanted to work on muscular V8s, but Butch showed me that all vehicles, new and old, are just nuts and bolts that hold other parts together. Since then I've had a soft spot for Dodge trucks. That's one of the reasons I enjoyed our stay with the Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4X4 we're reviewing this week. It's one of the new breed of crossover vehicles that are in reality a sport/utility vehicle with a pickup bed instead of an enclosed area behind the back seat. The pickup truck world has had four-door versions for a long time, but they were big commercial machines that had to carry a working crew and their equipment.

BOB - I had one of those monster six-seaters when you were a little guy, Matt, and it was too big so I only kept it long enough to find a buyer. But this new Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4X4 that we evaluated is a different story. It's as smooth as the Durango SUV that it's cloned from, and there's enough room in the back seat for three. And what I like best is that there are four doors that swing open normally from the front, just like a conventional sedan. This is great for passengers, but you can't stow anything behind the rear seat. I suppose that the bed of the truck is the "trunk." The Dakota pickup also comes as a conventional short cab/short bed or the Crew Cab, which has a pair of small jump seats in back, but the long bed model has been discontinued. Those seat in the Crew Cab are tiny and not comfortable at all, but it does provide a lockable space inside.

MATT - The Dakota line has an amazing array of powertrain combinations, too. The standard engine is a little 2.5 liter four-banger that comes with a five-speed stick-shift. This can be had with the shorty cab or the slightly longer Crew Cab but not in the four-door model like ours. The standard engine in the Quad Cab lineup is a pushrod V6 that can be had with either a stick-shift or a four-speed automatic. This engine is slightly on the anemic side for this 4300-pound truck but on the other end of the scale, the Dakota Quad Cab has a vintage 5.9-liter V8 that has stump-pulling torque power and a voracious appetite for fuel. A much better choice is the neat 4.7-liter V8 that has an overhead cam on each head. It's modern and comparatively lightweight, and gives 235 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque which is enough for anything the average buyer might want to do. It's available with a five-speed or automatic transmission.

BOB - As befits an SUV clone, the Dakota Quad Cab can be had in two and four-wheel drive and there's a couple of choices there, too. The conventional part-time four-wheel-drive system can't be used on dry pavement, but the truck can also be had with a shift-on-the-fly system that can be left engaged all the time. Buyers who are looking for the ultimate in bed size are going to have to pass on the Quad Cab and settle for another make since the eight-foot bed version is gone. That means you have to let that classic 4X8-foot piece of plywood hang out over the dropped tailgate to get it back from the home-improvement store. The longest Dakota cargo bed, except for the Quad Cab, which has a five-foot-three-inch bed, is now 6.5 feet.

MATT - Five-foot-three is big enough for camping gear or a pair of mountain bikes, Dad, and that's what the Quad Cab is designed for. More than 90 percent of Dakotas sold last year see duty as daily drivers and aren't expected to carry much more than a brief case or lunch box during the week. It's strictly upscale and not a workhorse, but it's rugged enough to work with the best of pickups.

BOB - If these luxo-pickups get any fancier, they're going to need separate parking lots at tony country clubs.

MATT - That's already happened, Dad. Their owners park them right next to equally-fancy SUVs.

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