Dodge's Four-mula for Success
Test: 2000 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab
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
Clearly Dodge 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.
Shuttling 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!"
Inside & Out
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 feel.
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.
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.