New for 2000, the mid-size Dodge Dakota Quad Cab has four front-hinged doors and a roomy passenger cabin that seat five or six. The Quad Cab is about the same overall length as the Dakota Club Cab, but its cargo box is a foot shorter – 5 1/4 feet. Quad Cabs come in 4X2 and 4X4 models with available V6 and V8 powerplants and optional full-time four-wheel-drive.
The comfort of an SUV and the utility of a pickup
The Dodge Dakota Quad Cab is just one of many new pickups to offer four regular, front-hinged doors. Nissan was the first manufacturer to introduce one in 1999: the compact Frontier Crew Cab. Dodge followed with the mid-size Dakota Quad Cab in January, 2000. Ford recently introduced the four-door Explorer Sport-Trac (a hybrid SUV/pickup) and full-size F-150 SuperCrew models; GM will introduce four-door versions of the full-size Silverado and Sierra heavy-duty pickups this Fall; and Toyota is preparing to release the four-door compact Tacoma Doublecab pickup later this year.
Typically, these four-door pickups have a longer cab and a shorter bed than Regular cab and Extended cab versions of the same model. Truck manufacturers wanted these four-door pickups to be the same length as their extended cab counterparts so they would remain ‘garageable’, and easier to drive.
If you’ve ever tried to make a U-turn in one of Ford or GM’s earlier long-wheelbase Crew Cab work trucks, you’ll know what I mean – it’s akin to turning the Queen Mary around…
Most of these new four-door pickups, including the Dakota, straddle the line between sport-utility vehicle and pickup truck. Their passenger cabins are often as roomy and as luxurious as comparable SUV models, and the ride and handling are also comparable. The big difference is that the pickup’s open cargo box is useful for items that wouldn’t normally be thrown into the back of an SUV – such as firewood, garbage, gravel, hay bales, dead animals, wet or dirty sports equipment, and tall items like mattresses and furniture.
Bigger cab, shorter box
2000 Dakota pickups come in three body styles: two-door regular cab, two-door Club Cab (extended cab), and four-door Quad Cab. The Dakota Quad Cab has the same wheelbase and overall length as the Club Cab, but the Quad Cab has a much roomier, six passenger cabin with four full-sized doors for easier entry and exit. The Quad Cab’s box, however, is over a foot shorter than the Club Cab’s: 5 1/4 feet vs 6 1/2 feet.
Unlike the small rear-hinged door panels found on many extended cab pickups, the Quad Cab’s large rear-hinged doors open almost 90 degrees and offer outside door handles and roll-down or optional power windows.
Up to three rear passengers can sit in the forward-facing rear bench seat which has a 60/40 split-cushion which fold-ups to create extra secure storage space (up to 736 litres/26 cu.ft.). The split cushions allow one or two passengers to sit on one side and cargo on the other.
The Dakota’s rear seating area features pull-out cupholders in the centre of the rear seat, back-of-seat map pockets, rear under-seat cargo loops, and overhead grab handles for easier entry and exit. The latter are useful because the step-up height into the cabin is rather high: 584 mm (23 in.).
For safety, outboard rear passengers have three-point safety belts, and centre passengers have a lap belt. There are two rear head restraints built into the seats, but they are rather shallow in height.
The standard front cloth seats are split 40/20/40 with a folding armrest as standard equipment. Optional high-back bucket seats and floor console are also available.
The Dakota’s attractive dashboard features simple, easy-to-see gauges including a tachometer, rotary dials for heater and ventilation conveniently close to the driver’s right hand, an AM/FM/CD stereo, a handy 12 volt power outlet and a cigarette lighter, and an ashtray that can be used as a coinholder.
The automatic transmission lever is located on the column while the 4WD lever is positioned on the floor.
Interior storage is reasonable: there’s a centre armrest and storage bin, glove box, map pockets and open storage on the floor console. An overhead console includes map lights and a sunglasses holder.
Headroom and legroom for both front and rear passengers is generous, particularly headroom. The Dakota Quad Cab will seat six, but the cabin width is better suited to two front and two adult rear passengers.
The Quad Cab’s cargo box is 63 inches long by 57 inches wide with a standard payload capacity of 1450 lb. An exterior lamp above the rear window illuminates the cargo box at night, and there’s also an optional sliding rear centre window.
Three engine choices
Quad Cab’s come with a standard 3.9-litre V6 engine with 175 horsepower and 225 lb.ft. of torque mated to a revised five-speed manual transmission. Optional is a 5.9 litre pushrod V8 with 245 horsepower and 335 lb.-ft. of torque – this engine provides the Quad Cab with a 6350 lb. maximum towing capacity and a standard 1450 lb. payload. Maximum payload capacity is 953 kg (2100 lb.)
New for 2000 is a 4.7-liter single overhead cam V8 engine which has 235 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque at 3200 rpm. This engine is also offered in the Dodge Durango and Grand Cherokee.
Along with other Dakota models, the Quad Cab receives improved brakes and steering for 2000, and four-wheel drive versions of the Dakota receive a new, lighter front axle and new, more responsive rack and pinion steering.
Quad Cab’s are available with two-wheel drive or a choice of part-time or full-time four-wheel drive. The recently-revised full-time system eliminates 2WD mode, but retains FT4WD, 4WD High, and 4WD Low. It’s also quieter and smoother than the previous unit.
Another new feature for the 2000 model year is a four-speed automatic transmission with a dual-ratio second gear. The dual second gear ratio improves launch and passing performance over a broader speed range. The four-speed automatic transmission also features driver-adaptive shifting software which fine-tunes the shift pattern to the driver.
My test vehicle was a fully-equipped Dakota Quad Cab SLT with the new 4.7 litre V8 engine, full-time four-wheel-drive, automatic transmission, premium stereo, and full power conveniences. The Quad Cab is definitely a sharp-looking truck, borrowing styling elements from the bigger Ram pickup which it also shares with the Durango SUV. This styling theme, though radical when introduced in 1994, has held up very well over the years.
Step-up height into the Dakota is high (584 mm/23 in.), but once in, the cabin is very comfortable and well laid-out. The driver’s position is quite high and outward visibility is excellent. Instrument visibility and access to controls is ergonomically correct, and it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. Rear passengers have adequate legroom and generous headroom, much more than in the Dakota Club Cab.
I was impressed by the Quad Cab’s quiet cabin and comfortable highway ride – the Quad Cab doesn’t ride as harshly as some pickups, and the roomy cabin gives you the impression that you’re riding in an SUV. The Quad Cab’s high 213 mm (8.4 in.) ground clearance provides plenty of clearance for off-road driving.
The 4.7 litre SOHC V8 engine is not quite as torquey as the 5.9 litre OHV V8 engine, but it is sportier with a higher top end, giving the Quad Cab a more dynamic driving appeal. At a steady 100 km/h, the 4.7 litre V8 turns over just 2200 rpm, so it’s very quiet on the highway. The recently upgraded four-speed automatic transmission is seamless, with shifts that are responsive without being jerky, and very quiet.
The full-time four-wheel-drive system does its job without any interaction from the driver, but if you want to put the lever into 4WD High for a 50/50 front to rear torque split, you can. There’s also a handy Low gear for really steep inclines.
The Quad Cab’s turning diameter of 12.5 metres (41.0 ft.) is not bad by truck standards, but still a bit high for city driving.
The great thing about the Quad Cab is its versatility. It’s roomy and comfortable enough to use as a family vehicle, but it can also be used for hauling heavy, ‘dirty’ payloads, or towing a trailer – maximum trailer towing capacity is 2177 kg (4800 lb.).
The Dakota Quad Cab is sort of like an SUV with a cargo box tacked onto the back. This will appeal to truck buyers who want the utility of a pickup, but the looks and comfort of a mid-sized SUV.
Prices and trim levels
4X2 Dakota Quad Cab models start at $23,800 and 4X4 models start at $27,540. Two trim levels are offered, Sport and SLT. Standard features on Sport models include the 3.9 litre V6 engine and manual transmission, part-time 4WD, AM/FM/cassette stereo, dual airbags, rear anti-lock brakes, power steering, split front bench seat and 60/40 split rear flip-up bench seat, intermittent wipers, large outside manually adjustable mirrors, 215/75R-15 inch all-season tires and 5-spoke alloy wheels.
SLT models add standard air conditioning, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, 12 volt power outlet, and a Convenience option package.
The many options available on this truck can really boost the price. Major options include full-time four-wheel-drive, premium stereo with CD, four wheel anti-lock brakes, bucket seats, power driver’s seat, power door locks and windows, remote keyless entry, fog lamps, power heated mirrors, two-tone exterior paint, larger tires, skid plates, and limited slip differential.
My test truck, which was equipped with just about every optional feature, came to $38,840 – or more than ten thousand dollars more than the base price of the Quad Cab 4X4.
The Dakota Quad Cab is built in Warren, Michigan.