had available 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist plus a mechanical
rear locking differential. When the truck hit black ice, the
Dakota quickly corrected itself before any real loss of vehicle control
was detected. And
unlike the Frontier, the Dakota's rack-and-pinion steering was smooth
and with an infinitely better turning radius. It was a relief to have
that kind of control and navigation for expected (and unexpected) turns
and tight spaces.
electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case came standard on my Dakota,
but a full-time transfer case is offered. The available Multi-Speed
Overdrive Automatic transmission is a 5-speed automatic with a slightly
bigger axle ratio of 3.92 for off-road adventure and price tag of $1,210.
There is also the standard 6-speed manual and available 4-speed automatic
with the V6. The standard 3.7-liter Magnum V6 itself offers 210-horsepower
and 235 lb-ft of torque with a gas estimation of 15-city/20-highway.
But I thought
I was missing something when I pushed the acceleration to its limits:
I wasn't feeling an extraordinary amount of surging V8 power. It was
consistent up steep and long grades with slightly noticeable shifting
from the Multi-Speed Overdrive transmission, but the Nissan's V6,
and the V6s of many other compact trucks and SUVs,
had netted the same response and delivery. It's moment to shine fell
a little flat climbing hills.
capability, the standard part-time 4-wheel drive on my model had 4LOCK
and 4LO modes. If under a full-time transfer case, four positions are
available. The TRX4 Off-Road Group features with the Multi-Speed automatic
transmission (but at that extra cost), 16-inch cast aluminum wheels
with standard P265/70R16 OWL On-/Off-Road tires, front and rear rubber
floor mats, and of courses, the fancy decals. An under-the-rail box
bedliner is an additional $245.
sufficient on snow and easy to use, I felt the off-road package lacked
real dazzle. With the V8, the computer read an average approximation
of 16.5-mpg during my trip.
still offers two body styles, the Extended Cab and Crew Cab; no regular
cab is becoming commonplace with this segment. There are 6 trim levels
to choose: ST, SXT, SLT, TRX4, Sport and Laramie.
Cruise controls are at the wheel, along with hidden audio system switches
located behind instead of in front. The white-faced electroluminescent
gauges turn blue at night. There are no automatic headlights lights,
but there is an overhead trip computer with a compass and outside thermometer.
My ride did not have Dodge's MyGIG navigation system with the 20-gigabyte
hard drive, but it did have the Premium Sound Group for $1,010 that included
a 6-disc DVD/MP3 player, remote start system, 6 Alpine speakers, and the
steering wheel mounted controls.