2000 Dodge Dakota Reviews and Ratings

Sweptline R/T Sport

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2000 Dodge Dakota
Dean Stevens

Goldilocks would have liked the Dodge Dakota. Some people find large, full-sized pickups too big, and smaller, compact trucks too small. Larger than the Ford Ranger, Chevy S-10 and other so-called compact pickups, the Dodge Dakota is the largest compact truck on the market today. It's really an intermediate-sized pickup.

Inside, the Dakota just got bigger with the introduction of the four-door Quad Cab. It features four forward-swinging doors and a back seat that's roomier than those found in extended-cab pickups. While the Quad Cab doesn't have as much room in the rear seating area as a full-size crew cab like the Ford F-150 SuperCrew, it does have more interior room than you'll find in other compact trucks. Model Lineup
Dodge Dakota is available in three cab configurations: Regular Cab, Club Cab, and Quad Cab. Club Cabs are only available with two doors.

Choose from three trim levels: base, Sport and SLT. Base Regular Cab 2WD retails for $13,555; Sport Regular Cab 2WD goes for $14,860; and SLT Regular Cab sells for $16,975. Sport trim adds better seats and interior trim and upgrades to the exterior. SLT offers more luxuries, bright bumpers and grille, and more options.

Dakota's stable offers an array of engines: 2.5-liter inline-4, 3.9-liter V6, 4.7-liter V8, and 5.7-liter V8. The 4.7-liter is new to the Dakota line this year. Manual and automatic transmissions are available; the 4.7-liter offers a sophisticated new automatic as an option. Two types of four-wheel drive are available: One is a part-time system with shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive that works well for off-road use. The other is a fulltime four-wheel-drive system designed to provide all-weather traction capability.

Gone is the optional 8-foot bed. New color choices: dark garnet, red pearl coat, sierra bronze pearl coat, amber fire pearl coat, and patriot blue pearl coat.

Limited-production R/T models come with a high-performance version of the 5.9-liter V8. Less restrictive exhaust increases horsepower and torque and offers a more aggressive exhaust note. Available on 2WD Regular or Club Cabs, the Dakota R/T Sport Group includes aggressive (255/55R17) tires mounted on 17-inch aluminum wheels, heavy-duty stabilizer bars, and a limited-slip rear differential. The R/T is lowered 1 inch. The package adds bucket seats, fog lights, special trim and a long list of convenience items. It adds $2,410 to a Club Cab and $2,370 to a Regular Cab. Walkaround
Dakota features the Freightliner styling of the bigger Dodge Ram. Bold lines give it a big, burley look, like it's ready to take on anything that comes its way.

Regular and Club Cabs have a 6-ft. 6-in. bed - a good size for a compact truck. The Quad Cab, on the other hand, has a 5-ft. 3-in. bed. According to Dodge, people seldom need the full length of the longer bed. Those who need more cargo space can consider an optional bed extender -an aluminum cage that flips over the lowered tailgate to extend the bed by 18 inches. It adds utility, but it isn't like having a full-sized bed. Dodge also offers a special shell developed for the Dakota by Leer that provides a protected cargo area. Interior
Visibility from inside the Dakota Quad Cab is outstanding. The driver sits high and there are no obvious blind spots. Optional 6x9-inch mirrors improve visibility rearward.

The Quad Cab is roomy and comfortable. The front seat is 40/20/40 split. The wide console Dodge has been using in Ram and Dakota pickups works well for storage area, but it gets in the way when fastening seat belts. A pullout cup holder at the foot of the center section is a nice touch. For $200 you can replace the 40/20/40 split bench with high-back buckets with a center console.

Though roomier than any other compact truck, the rear seating area offers limited legroom. Children and smaller adults should be happy back there, but taller folk will find the space confining. A better use for this space is to fold the rear 60/40 split bench seats entirely out of the way for a nice, secure storage area. Or you can leave part of the seat down for a passenger and still have room to tote stuff.

Controls are nicely placed and easy to operate. One exception: the $660 AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo offers superb sound through eight Infinity speakers spread around the cab, but the controls are small and confusing. Our test truck came with the overhead electronic console with an eight-point compass and ambient temperature that are useful when traveling. It also features a trip computer and odometer that reports fuel economy and fuel tank range. The console is part of the Overhead Convenience Group ($975) and includes compartments for sunglasses and garage door openers, auto-dimming rearview mirror and map lights. Driving Impressions
Our Dodge Dakota Sport 4X4 Quad Cab offered impeccable road manners during the four-hour journey north from Los Angeles to the Owens River in northeastern California. The new 4.7-liter V8 quickly spoiled us, and the smooth ride made the journey a pleasure. There was a considerable amount of wind noise, which was overpowered by that wonderful sound system. Once in the Owens Valley we hooked up with a couple of fly fishers and headed for the river.

The driver and front seat passenger had tons of legroom. Fortunately, our backseater was on the short side, so he was relatively happy in his space. The rear doors are fairly wide - about 37 inches. That, coupled with the fact that there is no cutout in them for the rear wheel-well (like there is in many SUVs), makes getting in and out of the rear seat relatively easy. It also means the rear windows roll all the way down.

The floor-mounted transfer case lever (Dodge doesn't offer push-button 4WD on the Dakota) is easy to reach and operate. We hit one particularly sandy section and slipped easily into 4WD without dropping speed. Later, on a steep hill, we pulled the transfer case into 4WD-low and easily walked up a hill that had a good 15-degree grade.

On washboard sections of hard-packed dirt roads in 2WD, the backend had a tendency to fishtail - common in unloaded pickups. It exhibited similar tendencies in radical transient maneuvers on dry pavement. The brakes delivered straight and true stopping power. Our Quad Cab had the optional four-wheel anti-lock brakes ($495). We were impressed with the Quad Cab's turning radius. For a truck its length, it makes relatively tight turns.

Dodge claims its new 4.7-liter V8 ($590), designed from a clean sheet of paper, is the most refined V8 ever offered on a Dodge truck. It's a powerful little devil, rated at 235 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque. It offers all the power and torque you expect from a V8.

The 4.7-liter engine can be paired with a five-speed manual or Dodge's new "multi-speed" automatic transmission. It's a fully electronic four-speed automatic with a dual-ratio second gear. This transmission was designed in tandem with the 4.7-liter engine and they are precisely calibrated to each other. Its onboard computer continuously adjusts the shift pattern to match the way the truck is driven. A tall first gear ratio gives the driver better initial acceleration. It selects one of two second-gear ratios based on load and driver input. Its reverse gear uses a ratio equal to the first gear, beneficial when backing up with a heavy trailer. Summary
Dodge Dakota is a solid, well-built truck I found fun to drive. The new 4.7-liter V8 in our Quad Cab offers great performance and works seamlessly with a specially designed automatic transmission.

If you don't want a full-size truck and compacts seem too small, then the Dodge Dakota may be just right.

Model as tested
Quad Cab 4X4 Sport
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Warren, Michigan
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested
Sport Plus Group ($275) includes air conditioning, 15X8-inch aluminum wheels, 31X10.5R15 tires, 136-amp alternator, fog lamps; Trailer Tow Group ($275) includes Class IV receiver hitch, 7-circuit wiring connector; Deluxe Convenience Group ($390) includes cruise control, tilt steering column; Power Overhead Convenience Group ($930) includes overhead console, power windows, power locks, keyless entry, auto day/night rearview mirror; Heavy Duty Service Group ($180) includes 750-amp battery, heavy-duty engine cooling, auxiliary transmission oil cooler; 4-wheel ABS ($285); floor mats ($50); 4-speed automatic transmission ($975); 3.92 rear axle ratio ($40); limited-slip rear differential ($285); 4.7-liter V8 ($590); rear sliding window ($115); power fold-away 6X9-in. mirrors ($160); AM/FM/cassette/CD with Infinity speakers and equalizer ($660); steering wheel audio controls ($75); leather-wrapped steering wheel ($50)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
4X2 Regular Cab ($13,555); 4X2 Club Cab ($16,880); 4X2 Quad Cab ($19,250); 4X4 Regular Cab ($17,030); 4X4 Club Cab ($20,085); 4X4 Quad Cab ($21,895)
Safety equipment (standard)
rear anti-lock brakes, next-generation dual airbags (with passenger-side deactivation on Regular and Club Cabs), 3-point active seatbelts, cab-back child seat tether anchors standard; four-wheel ABS optional
Safety equipment (optional)
4.7-liter V8
4-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
40/20/40 split front seat; 60/40 split rear seat; front stabilizer bar; power steering; shift-on-the-fly transfer case; power, rear antilock brakes; intermittent wipers; AM/FM cassette stereo; 5X7 mirrors

Engine & Transmission
4.7-liter V8
Drivetrain type
four-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
235 @ 4800
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)

Brakes, front/rear
disc/drum with ABS
Suspension, front
Suspension, rear
live axle

Seating capacity
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear

Fuel capacity
Trunk volume
Turning circle
Towing capacity
Track, front/rear
Ground clearance
Curb weight

J.D. Power Rating
Overall Quality Not Available
Overall Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Powertrain Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Body & Interior Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Features & Accessories Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Overall Quality - Design
Not Available
Powertrain Quality - Design
Not Available
Body & Interior Quality - Design
Not Available
Features & Accessories Quality - Design
Not Available

Overall Dependability Not Available
Powertrain Dependability
Not Available
Body & Interior Dependability
Not Available
Feature & Accessory Dependability
Not Available

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J.D. Power Rating Legend
Among the Best
5 / 5
Better than Most
4 / 5
About Average
3 / 5
The Rest
2 / 5

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