Dodge Dakota Quad Cab pickup has four car doors like a sedan
Date Posted: 5/10/2005
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- First came the practical pickup truck, a strong work machine outfitted with the cab up front for people and a bed in back for cargo, and it was good.
Then came the more practical sport-utility wagon, a version of the pickup with the truck bed enveloped by the passenger compartment and enough room left inside to fit two rows of seats for riders, and it was even better.
Now comes something entirely different that marries the two, pickup and sport-ute: The four-door pickup or, depending on point of view, a four-door SUV with the exposed bed of a truck attached in the rear.
It's the latest take on hybrid ideas in automotive design, whereby attributes and functions for different types of vehicles come together for a new product.
Expect all truck manufacturers to rush into production with this idea, but the first one out with beefy V8 power choices comes from Dodge with a mid-size Dakota pickup rigged with four regular car doors and two rows of seats plus an abbreviated bed that lips over five feet in length.
This new Dakota Quad Cab truck debuted in multiple variations geared for sport, work and play functions at the trade show for automotive customizing (Specialty Equipment Market Association) in Las Vegas this fall before a winter roll-out in production tagged for year 2000 models.
We spent a day in the Nevada desert on pavement and dirt driving Dakota Quad Cab prototypes in several styles equipped with big and bigger V8 engine choices, both manual and automatic transmissions, and rear-wheel and four-wheel traction variations.
From that experience we learned that the Quad Cab can be more than simply a pickup with a couple of new doors on the side: An extended wheelbase sets up a smooth ride quality and a spacious cabin packed with amenities feels as comfortable as a big sedan, so from the driver's perspective it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the underlying vehicle is actually a truck rather than a car.
And with crisp steering and easy-turning traits it doesn't feel like a truck when driving around town in crowded traffic.
The smaller overall size of the Dakota's chassis compared to a full-size truck and the cropped bed runs just under 18 feet in overall length, which is several feet less than a four-door crew-cab pickup with extended rear box. That advantage of having several less feet of steel to hurl around in traffic makes a big difference in terms of maneuverability and practicality.
According to Dakota's designers, different lengths for the rear box were shown to consumer groups to determine preferences. As a result, the conventional 78-inch box length was discarded in favor of a briefer 63-inch box, which not only sets up a shorter overall package size which fits in the confines of a home garage but also makes a sporty styling statement.
The look is unusual: A brief but bold prow with stepped hood leading up to a large center-section cabin that's trailed by the crimped box.
Every aspect of the design orients around the expanded passenger compartment.
Dakota's cabin arrangement with front bench or bucket seats and a bona fide back seat for three plus easy access through the four regular-size doors means that for the first time a truck can actually be used as an everyday car to support a wide variety of activities, including such mundane tasks as carpooling the kids.
As a result of this versatility, marketing forecasters at Dodge predict the Quad Cab Dakota will attract a different type of consumer, including some who will use it as their only vehicle and a few who have never before driven a pickup.
With three engine choices, two traction and transmission options and several trim treatments, it will develop different personalities.
Powertrains begin with Dodge's V6 3.9-liter Magnum plant, which produces 175 hp and links with either a five-speed manual or automatic four-speed transmission.
Two optional V8 engines with best-in-class power and towing capacity are expected to show up in the bulk of all Quad Cabs due to their affordability and strength -- and particularly Dodge's new 4.7-liter single-cam V8, which pumps up 235 hp and approaches fuel efficiency of the V6.
But you can go even further with a 5.9-liter Magnum V8.
That plant, built with a cast iron block and heads and equipped with overhead valving and sequential electronic multi-port fuel injection, pushes the power curve to 245 hp.
It also spits out massive torque -- the engine's ultimate measure of muscle that translates into linear propulsion -- to 335 lb-ft, and elevates the towing capacity of Dakota as high as 6350 pounds.
The only transmission for the big V8, Dodge's 46 RE electronic automatic, carries four forward gears with overdrive lock out and converter clutch.
All Dakotas contain excellent handing equipment like power-assisted rack and pinion steering, power brakes with front discs and rear drums linked to passive anti-lock controls, as well as an independent front suspension in responsive wishbone design, and a rear live axle with four-leaf springs and gas-charged shocks plus stabilizer bar.
Four-wheel traction systems are available in either part-time or full-time modes. The part-time unit is the standard 4x4 device with manual shift-on-the-fly feature between two-wheel and four-wheel drive and engagement through a floor-mounted switch lever. A full-time four-wheel-drive transfer case works with either V8 engine.
The cabin provides more space for riders than any other truck in the small-truck category. For front seats, room for heads reaches to 39.8 inches, with 41.9 inches available for legs and a generous 58.1 inches for shoulders.
On rear seats, head room is 38.4 inches, with inches for legs at 36.0 and 57.4 for shoulders.
When not used for passengers, the rear seat cushions, divided by 60/40 percent, fold up to make room for cargo.
Trim levels segment into the Sport and deluxe SLT.
After-market Mopar accessories have been coordinated with the roll-out of the Dakota Quad Cab in anticipation of customization. Gear includes bed liners, roof racks, a three-piece tonneau bed cover, tubular grille and brush guard, and a bed-mounted bike carrier.
All starts with entry pricing of $19,500 for a 4x2 edition or $22,135 for a 4x4, with the 4.7-liter V8 pegged at $590 and the 5.9 V8 for $1,190.
| Vehicle Specifications:
| 2000 DODGE DAKOTA QUADCAB Specs
||Mid-size 4-door truck
| Model Options:
||Mid-size 4-door truck
| Overall Length:
| Engine Size:
||OHV 3.9-L V6
OHC 4.7-L V8
OHV 5.9-L V8
||Rear 4x2, 4x4
||Power disc/drum/ABS opt.
| Gas Mileage:
||3.9-L 4x2: 16/21 mpg
3.9-L 4x4: 15/19 mpg
4.7-L 4x2: 14/20 mpg
4.7-L 4x4: 14/18 mpg
5.9-L 4x2: 12/17 mpg
5.9-L 4x4: 12/16 mpg
||$ 19,500 to $ 25,000