Used 2002 Dodge Dakota Review
If one word could best describe the 2002 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 Dodge Dakota offers more room, power and capability than the other trucks it ostensibly competes against. We say ostensibly because the Dakota is unique; it is not as small as the true compacts, such as the Toyota Tacoma, nor is it as big as full-size pickups like the Ford F-150. With a ruggedly handsome presence and a roomy, comfortable interior, the Dakota is available in three body styles: regular cab, extended ("Club") cab and crew ("Quad") cab.
A multiplicity of engines assures that there's a powertrain geared for any purpose. We're not sure the 2.5-liter inline four deserves the "Magnum" moniker considering its lightweight output of 120 horsepower, but on a base regular cab with a five-speed manual, it earns 20 city/25 highway EPA fuel economy estimates. The more popular choice is the 3.9-liter V6 that pumps out a more respectable 175 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque. Next up the power ladder is the 235 horsepower 4.7-liter V8 that churns out 295 pound-feet of twist. Still not enough for ya? Then how about a 5.9-liter V8 with 245 or 250 horses (depending on application) and 295 pound-feet of twist.
OK, now what about trim levels? Along with the new entry-level SXT, there are base, Sport, SLT and R/T to choose from. The base model has antilock brakes and a stereo with cassette player, but other than that, it's pretty bare-bones. The Sport adds alloy wheels and cloth seating. The 3.9-liter V6, cruise control, air conditioning and chrome bumpers and grille come on the SLT. And the fired-up R/T has the 250-horse 5.9-liter V8, a sport-tuned suspension with 17-inch alloy wheels, an anti-spin rear axle and color-keyed bumpers and grille.
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. 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 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).
Thanks to its wide selection of engines and body configurations, the Dakota is one of the best pickups currently sold. If you're in the market for a compact pickup, a test drive is certainly in order.
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.