Dodge Dakota Quad Cab (2000)

 

Dodge DakotaDodge either took its Durango SUV, lopped off the back and welded on a pickup bed, or wedged a four-door passenger compartment between the windshield and bed of its Dakota pickup. Were not sure which it was but the result is the Dodge Dakota Quad Cab.

So, can you really have your cake and eat it, too? No! Of course not! DaimlerChrysler had to make compromises along the way, and one of the biggest was to truncate the pickup bed. While most full-size pickups give you a bed of 6 or 8 feet, enabling you to shut the tailgate on a 4 by 8 sheet of drywall, the Quad Cabs bed is a more petite 5 feet. But we think that for most people, the difference is no big deal. So the cargo hangs out the back end a little. So what? If it causes you night sweats, your dealer will be more than happy to sell you a bed extender that gives you another 19 inches.

Driving Experience

DaimlerChrysler offers the Dakota Quad Cab with a 3.9-liter V6. In our humble opinion, though, this vehicle is too heavy for that engine wed recommend the 4.7-liter overhead-cam V8 that came in our test vehicle. If you find yourself frequently hauling your mother-in-law around on top of a pile of manure, then you might want to consider the optional 5.9-liter, 245-horsepower V8. Otherwise, stick with the 4.7-liter engine, and at least you wont end up at the bottom of the EPA estimated fuel economy list.

Our truck came equipped with four-wheel drive and a very smooth five-speed transmission, though Ray did notice that the transmission got hung up in gear a few times. Although the clutch action was very nice, having to depress the clutch as we drove around Harvard Square was, frankly, a pain in the butt. While we cant fault the five-speed, wed go for the automatic every time.

As a car, this truck works very well. The ride was cushy and quiet, with very little wind noise on the highway.

Interior

Dodge DakotaWhen you climb into the Quad Cab, take a good look over your shoulder. See those big, comfy seats? You wouldnt be admiring those if you had bought a traditional pickup. Theres room enough for two people in luxuriant splendor, and three without too much grumbling. In fact, if you had to, you could get six people into the Quad Cab with no one dialing up Amnesty International on their cell phone. Got no passengers? Want to keep that load of peat moss from getting soaked in the rain? The 60-40 rear seat folds down to make a flat loading floor.

Dodges compromise in shaving the cargo means that rear-seat passengers will get to step through full-sized, front-hinged doors with windows that roll down all the way not the puny, rear-hinged doorlets youll find on extended-cab pickups. And when they settle in, they wont have that disconcerting feeling that their heads might go through the rear window in a panic stop. Theres a little more breathing room.Dodge Dakota

Ergonomics

Our most serious complaint about the Quad Cab is that its too hard to see whats going on around you in traffic. The lack of visibility made tiny beads of sweat (okay, big beads of sweat) break out on our foreheads as we tried to navigate the busy streets of Our Fair City.

Why the lousy visibility? Simple the Quad Cab has side view mirrors that are the size of Wisconsin, which results in enormous forward blind spots that literally swallow up jaywalkers. It was impossible to see pedestrians who were shorter than seven feet tall. And, speaking of visibility, the optional sliding window in our vehicle was in desperate need of a defogger particularly important in the Quad Cab, because the rear window is out of the drivers reach. Of course, DaimlerChrysler will be happy to put a defogger in your standard, non-sliding back window for an extra 370 smackers, that is.

The dashboard is simple, and all of the controls are where youd expect to find them. We did have to play find the hidden cupholder, but after a little diligent searching (Owners manual? We dont need no stinking owners manual!), it turned out to be a little pull-out gizmo in the middle of the front seat, down near the floor. There are fingertip controls for the radio on the back of the steering wheel, which is a smart thing, because, your fingers are where when you drive? On the back of the wheel.

The Quad Cab has dual airbags up front, and you can switch off the passengers side air bag to protect a little one riding there. Side impact air bags arent available. And, wed recommend you spend the additional $495 for the optional, four-wheel anti-lock brakes.

Reliability

The 4.7-liter, double overhead cam engine is a fairly new design for Dodge. Its reliability is still unproven. The 5.9-liter, however, is Dodges tried and true push rod style engine, which should prove to be quite reliable.

On particularly cold mornings, we found we had to wait a bit before the power steering rolled out of bed, had its morning coffee and reported for duty. Sometimes the thing bound up; sometimes it just didnt work. Were not even going to guess what caused this problem; whatever it was, it went away after the truck warmed up.

Maintenance

Like all pickup trucks, this one has oodles of room under the hood you might want to throw an extra engine in there, just as a spare. The Quad Cab should be a piece of cake to work on.

Overall comments

Got kids, but still yearning for a pick up? The Dodge Dakota Quad Cab might just be a good choice. Look at it this way: youll avoid those pesky appearances in court, explaining to the Judge why its okay for your kids soccer team to be riding on the bumper.

At this point, the Quad Cabs only true competitors are the smaller Nissan Frontier Crew Cab, which has a V6 as its biggest engine, and the workmanlike Ford F150 Super Crew, a utilitarian vehicle marketed to people whose work usually has something to do with a construction site.

The Quad Cab is priced in SUV territory, starting at $19,350 for a two-wheel-drive version, and $21,995 in four-wheel-drive. The price can go up quickly, though, when you begin adding some things you may take for granted in most cars like a rear-window defogger. While its not flawless, its not a bad choice for someone who needs a pickup, but doesnt want to give up four-door-sedan practicality.

View cars.com model report on this vehicle.


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