Test: 2000 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab by
The 2000 Dodge
Dakota Quad Cab has staked a claim all its own as the only midsize
four door pickup truck in town. Though Dodge officially classifies
the Dakota as a compact it's 131-inch wheelbase is closer in size
to the 138-inch wheelbase of the 2001
Ford F-150 SuperCrew than the 116-inch wheelbase of the 2000
Nissan Frontier Crew Cab. This provides Dodge with bragging
rights over the rest of the compact trucks but easily places it
outside the territory of the full-sizes. The Dakota is large enough
to comfortably seat 5 adults, a tight fit in the Frontier, yet maneuverable
enough to easily parallel park, a challenge in the SuperCrew.
If you like
attention the Dakota Quad Cab is your truck. The Dakota quickly
became known among the PUTC staff as the 'Killer Bee'. Our 4x4 Sport
Edition of the Quad Cab garnered looks wherever we went - probably
as much for the four full size doors as its screaming Solar Yellow
paint job and Son-of-Ram fascia. One gentleman in a Jeep Grand Cherokee,
traveling the opposite way in San Francisco traffic, was about to
make his first 4x4 foray and cross the median to get a better look
at the Dakota after gesturing wildly in our direction to his passengers
is positioning the Dakota Sport Quad Cab towards those with a an
active lifestyle. Its 4x4 abilities and large size let you load
up lots of gear - even in the abbreviated 5' 1/4" bed - to
go almost anywhere.
To test out
its versatility, load hauling and cargo carrying capabilities some
of the staff took the Dakota out for a day of dirt biking in Hollister
Hills State Park in Hollister, California. Prior to leaving
for the park our biggest question was, are we going to be able to
fit three dirt bikes in the bed of the Quad Cab? There was only
one way to find out! As it turns out we had no problems fitting
all three bikes in the bed of the truck with the tailgate down,
extending the bed to just over 6 1/2-feet, and there was still room
to spare for extra equipment. We were even able to load all three
bikes facing forward which takes a little more room than having
the middle bike facing backwards (it is easier to tie down the middle
bike if it faces forward). We had no problems securing the bikes
using the anchors inside the cargo box and along the front of the
bed between the cargo box and the cab.
three people in one truck to go dirt biking was no problem in the
Dakota. It's 4x4 capabilities and 5.9L engine had no problems with
the load and inclement weather.
The ride from
San Francisco to Hollister Hills takes about an hour and a half
and it was a pleasure in the Quad Cab. The truck handled well, the
ride was smooth and the interior of the cab was very comfortable.
The truck's 5.9L V8 engine provided more power than we needed to
haul our load for the day. The back seat of the Quad Cab provided
more than enough room for passengers to sit comfortably with plenty
of available leg room. The only sad part of the story is that the
trails accessible to 4x4 trucks were closed because of poor conditions
so we had to settle for two wheels and a rain suit!"
With the cabin
stretched some 15 inches over what you would normally find in a
Dodge Club Cab the Quad Cab makes some substantial strides in driver
and passenger comfort.
A roof console
provides more space for the driver to store miscellaneous items.
Mandatory holders for sunglasses and garage door opener were present.
For additional convenience and information the console includes
a trip computer that displayed data on outside temperature, direction
of travel, average mileage per gallon, real-time mileage per gallon
and total trip distance.
The dash in
the Dodge Dakota is very carlike in appearance. A well arranged
group of instruments lets you quickly monitor all standard functions
with nice, large white on black gauges for the tach and speedometer.
The HVAC controls are among the easiest to use we have seen. Three
dials allow you to quickly and intuitively adjust the fan and temperature.
Buttons mounted on the leather wrapped steering wheel let you easily
adjust the cruise control on the highway and a 12-volt power port
allows you to plug in your cell phone or laptop. The glove box had
a moderate amount of space even though it was mounted under the
passenger SRS. Dash materials were good quality and had a nice tactile
The only real
issue about the dash was the positioning and controls on the Infinity
stereo. In a strange ergonomic twist of fate the radio seems to
face very slightly toward the passenger seat and takes some getting
used to when initially changing stations. The stereo also came with
an in-dash single CD player, nice for the occasional CD user but
a 6-disc player would have been preferred. The balance and fade
controls on the stereo are controlled by a single miniature 'joystick'
that you have to be particularly careful about aligning or you'll
quickly find your music coming out the left rear or another speaker.
the floor was the transfer case shifter for the part-time four wheel
drive. During the rainy weather in San Francisco it was quite easy
to reach down and shift on the fly into four wheel high and back
again but a dash mounted control would have been preferred so you
didn't have to look down for the shifter first. Shifts into four
wheel drive were flawless and imperceptible to the driver except
for the slight change in the handling of the truck.
the seating choice was optional 40/20/40 high back cloth bucket
seats. The front driver seat was 6-way electric adjustable
but lacking a lumbar control - something some of us missed
on longer trips but were comfortable nonetheless.
rear of the cab was a 40/60 folding split bench. From the
photographs you can see how the seat bottoms fold up to provide
plenty of additional storage room for those items that might
not be able to tolerate the elements if left in the bed of
the Dakota. With the rear seat folded up it was like have
a super-sized Club Cab.
seats were quite comfortable to sit in and the backs angled
toward the bed slightly to make long trips quite tolerable
for rear seat passengers. The small headrests could be made
slightly larger and an additional one added for the middle
passenger. During sudden stops the middle passenger quickly
noticed the lack of a headrest. A built in upholder provides
a place for two drinks but because it comes out of the middle
of the rear seat it could not be used with three passengers.
On the outside
the first thing we noticed on the Dakota was its high, 4x4 stance.
It's a solid, good looking truck particularly if you like the Ram-like
front end treatment. The color keyed fender flares filled out the
truck's appearance and beefy aluminum 5 spoke wheels wrapped in
31X10.5R15 all-season tires only added to the sturdy looks. The
bed and cab proportions looked quite natural and well thought out,
particularly where the bed 'wrapped' around the cab to accommodate
the angled back rear seats. When parked next to a Toyota Tundra
it was even a little hard to tell the difference in size.
bed came with a Mopar Liner which was made of heavy, durable
plastic. It easily took the punishment of loading the dirt bikes
in and out of the truck.
Dakota Quad Cab comes with the only optional V8s available
in the compact / midsize truck segment. As much as we
would have liked and enjoyed test driving the new Next-Generation
4.7L Magnum (235 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque)
our Dakota Quad Cab instead came with the
heavy-duty 5.9L which produced 250 horsepower and 345
lb.-ft. of torque. We had plenty of power and torque
at all times with this engine which had no problems
even when it had three dirt bikes in the back of the
truck. The only issue we had with the engine was the
gas mileage which averaged a lowly 13mpg during both
highway and surface travel. The 24 gallon tank helped
with extending the range.
was excellent for a truck. Though you could still 'chirp'
the tires when starting from a stand still, the truck
always held the road tightly at highway and moderate
speeds. A live rear axle with gas charged shock absorbers
and optional stabilizer bar kept the rear from bouncing
around when the truck was unweighted, even in wet weather.
Dodge Dakota Quad Cab has received numerous awards and recognition
for its unique position in the pickup truck marketplace. Four
Wheeler Magazine voted it as their Pickup Truck of the Year
and the Dakota was the highest ranked compact pickup truck
in initial quality as awarded by J.D. Power & Associates
new customer survey. We certainly won't debate those awards.
The Dodge Dakota Quad Cab proved quite capable and up to any
of our demands during our road test period.
have an active lifestyle and are looking for a truck to keep
up with some heavy lifting demands in a midsize package, the
Dakota Quad Cab is waiting for you and its four doors and
ample interior will keep all your passengers happy. Just
don't forget we warned you about the gas mileage.
Dodge Dakota Quad Cab
Price: $21,615 Price
as Tested: $29,270
as Tested Includes: High Back Bucket Seats ($200); Heavy
Duty Service Group ($180); Sport Plus Group ($1320); Trailer
Tow Group ($275); Deluxe Convenience Group ($390); Power Overhead
Convenience Group ($930); 4-wheel Anti-Lock Brakes ($495);
Floor Mats ($50); Automatic Transmission ($975); 3.92 Axle
Ratio ($40); Anti-Spin Differential ($285); 5.9L Magnum Engine
($1125); Rear Window Defroster and Power Heated Mirrors ($370);
6-Way Power Driver Seat ($320); AM/FM Stereo with Compact
Disc Player ($480); Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel ($50);
Sport Plus Group Discount (-$350)