As the light truck/SUV craze matures into a plethora of models and sub-models, the Dodge Dakota Quad Cab would seem to be another entry into a market well stocked with product, not least by DaimlerChrysler itself. Appearances can be decieving, however, and the Quad Cab is in fact, a true pickup with four doors, a full-frame vehicle with payload and towing capacities that invite serious use. The SSGM test vehicle was loaded, which combined with extensive cab sound insulation and weatherstripping, produced a quiet, most un-pickup like ride. The cab is comfortable, but the big news lies between the frame rails.
Dodge’s new “Next-Generation” Magnum V-8 carries 4.7 litres of displacement and hauls the 4460 pound Quad Cab with authority thanks to 245 horsepower and 335 foot-pounds of torque. SSGM testing produced mileage estimates of 14 MPG city, and 21 MPG highway, numbers which are very close to the EPA estimates of 14/19 in city/highway driving. The engine wears alloy heads atop a cast iron block dressed with engine-mounted accessories that are driven by a long life serpentine belt. Alternator, A/C compressor and the head-mounted injectors are very easy to access, and the coil-on-plug ignition helps create a very clean engine compartment. There are many novel features to the new engine, but it’s enough to say that the new powerplant is more than enough for this mid-size pickup, and probably a full-size Ram, too.
Helping the “clean-sheet” new engine design in both delivered power and economy is the 45RFE automatic transmission, which uses a computer-selected alternate second gear ratio for either extra power or economy, depending on driving style. The transmission carries an extra tall 3.00:1 first gear, and reverse is also 3.00:1 for trailering convenience. Also new this year is power rack and pinion steering, which works well behind the wheel and under the chassis, where access to the starter is excellent. With ample power combined with greatly improved steering feel and precision, the Quad Cab is very car-like in performance, and is neither overly stiff, nor underdamped in hard cornering. The stock Goodyear Wranglers are quiet for a vehicle of this type, and are surprisingly grippy for a pick-up application. Is this a perfect vehicle? No, but issues are few. A locking gas filler door would be nice, as would a lumbar support for the front passenger seat. Tall drivers might find the fixed headrests a little short. There’s a lot to like about the Dakota Quad Cab, and if you need serious payload and towing capacity with a pick-up bed, all in a garageable package, this may be your ride. SSGM