Used 2001 Dodge Dakota Review
If one word could best describe the 2001 Dodge Dakota, comfortable would be it. Whether carrying five adults, cruising the interstate, transporting cargo or tackling off-road terrain, the Dakota is at ease no matter where it is or what it's asked to do.
The Dakota carved out its own niche in the compact pickup world when it premiered back in 1987. Here was a "compact" truck that wasn't so compact, giving it an instant advantage over competitors from Ford and Chevy. Dakota continued to upstage its domestic rivals when an optional 5.2-liter V8 appeared in 1991 (the S-10 and Ranger still don't offer V8 power!) and attractive Ram-inspired styling debuted for 1997. Last year, Dodge trumped the competition one more time by being the first to offer Quad Cab, which provided four full-sized doors to family-conscious consumers.
This year, the Dakota continues to offer a wide range of engine and body style configurations. The two-wheel-drive Regular and Club Cabs get a mini-Magnum 120-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, but all Dakotas have access to a 3.9-liter V6 that cranks out 175 horsepower. There's also the 4.7-liter V8, which makes a useable 230 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque, along with the 5.9-liter V8 making 250 horses. The 5.9-liter cannot be mated to a manual transmission, and the 2.5-liter is without an automatic option. If you're worried about having to tow with a compact truck, keep in mind the Dakota's potential 6,700-pound towing capacity. In other words, no problem.
Three body styles are available: Regular Cab, Club Cab, and Quad Cab. Want the ultimate attention-gettin' Dakota? The Regular and Club Cab two-wheel-drives can take advantage of the R/T Sport Group that includes the 250-horsepower 5.9-liter V8, a lowered suspension, and a high-performance tire-and-wheel combo. You might also want to check out the Dakota Sport with its new front fascia and Sparkle Silver 15x7-inch cast aluminum wheels.
You'll likely have to keep reminding yourself that this is indeed a compact pickup -- everything from its towing capacity and stance to its power and interior seems bigger than the norm. A 40/20/40 split seat is standard (but you can opt for high-back buckets), and rear passengers travel on a 60/40 split-folding bench seat, creating seating for six in Quad Cabs. The interior is quiet, and Dodge has improved everything from the instrument panel to the ventilation system to the floor console and cupholders. Optional audio equipment, featuring two- and three-band equalizers and steering wheel-mounted controls, give the Dakota a more upscale feel, but those wanting the ultimate luxury hauler should look into a Quad Cab with the new-for-2001 optional leather interior.
Both two- and four-wheel-drive versions are available, and the independent front suspension works effectively with the Dakota's rack-and-pinion steering for a confident yet comfortable ride. Underneath, you'll find front disc brakes with optional ABS and rear drums with standard ABS (you can upgrade to slightly larger rear brakes when opting for ABS). Four-wheel-drive models get a new dash-mounted, electronically controlled transfer case that replaces the previous floor-mounted lever system.
The Dakota enters the new millennium with looks, power, a much-desired four-door configuration and a brand-new interior. It sure seems like it could be a very happy new year for Dodge.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.