1994 DODGE DAKOTA SPORT
Used Truck - 1994 Dodge Dakota Sport in Pinellas Park, Fl
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1994 Dodge Dakota ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
The introduction of the Dakota pickup nearly a decade ago marked Dodge's first serious incursion into the light-truck market in years. Once a major force with entries such as its highly valued Power Wagon models, Dodge's truck efforts languished through the '70s as Ford and Chevy fought for sales leadership. When Lee Iacocca took over Chrysler, a priority was to examine the company's position in the light-truck arena.
The full-size Dodge Ram badly needed new life. However, it w4s felt that a better immediate opportunity lay in the midsize-truck market, where Ford and Chevy were just beginning to establish themselves. Enter the Dodge Dakota. Midsize, all right, but just a little bigger in payload and interior. The timing was right as pickup sales began to surge: Dakota was a solid sales hit. And Chrysler kept fine-tuning it with a new V6 engine, trim packages, an extended cab and 4WD versions. Then the 318 CID 5.2-liter 220-hp Magnum V8 was added to the mix. Another hit.
Our test model was the 1994 Dodge Dakota Club Cab with the Sport SLT trim package and the optional 220-h V8. The standard engine was the very respectable 3.9-liter 175-hp V6. Our truck had a base price of $14,042 and a delivered MSRP price, plus taxes, of $17,846-this after a $2,722 Dodge factory discount. While this may seem pricey, it is competitive with the other midsize pickup offerings.
Your first impression is that this 2 looks more like a full-size truck, It's big. The cab is extended, with a back seat. And behind the extended cab is a 6.5-foot pickup box. All of this is mounted on a chassis with a 130.9-inch wheelbase. While it lacks the pizzazz of the new Chevy S-Series and Ford Ranger pickups, the Dakota possesses a certain solid, serious dignity.
A heavy-duty black composite bodyside molding runs along the flanks between the similarly clad wheel openings. This is serious parking lot protection and adds to the overall 'big truck' look. The look is brightened by stylish wraparound headlights and taillights and a bold, chrome grille. A chrome front bumper and rear step bumper also add cheer. Fit-and-finish is quite good-much better than any earlier model pickups famous for their orange-peel paint and ill-fitting body panels. Our truck was finished in Emerald Green Metallic with a Quartz interior and styled steel chrome wheels.
The pickup bed is of the now-standard double-wall construction. Notches in the bed sides provide support for wood spacers in two-tier loading. The tailgate, with a new center-mounted stoplight, is removable.
Open the door and climb in and you really climb. The step up into the cab furthers the impression that this is a big midsize truck. Our Dakota had the Sport SLT trim package with the premium cloth reclining 60/40 split bench seat. It included a fold-down center armrest, adjustable headrests and a driver-side lumbar adjustment. For a bench seat in a pickup truck, it was exceedingly comfortable. Behind this was a mini-bench seat for rear passengers. Dodge says the Dakota offers a six-passenger configuration, but reality told us this was a truck for two, sometimes three, front seat passengers and maybe one or two passengers in the rear.
Controls and gauges are within easy reach with two exceptions. The power window and door lock controls are in a box mounted on the door panel somewhat out of sight. Until you get used to the touch and feel, you tend to grope for the controls and often open a window when you want to lock the doors.
We thought Chrysler designers and engineers had an excellent idea to locate the cruise control on the steering wheel. (Also present in the steering wheel is the standard driver-side air bag.) We found the joystick control for the sideview mirrors, though, wobbly and somewhat fragile.
Our 6-foot test driver had no problem with room, and the fore/aft front seat adjustment accommodated him easily. One note here: Put the front seat all the way back and there is no knee room for rear seat passengers. This appears to be the case in all extended cab configurations.
Dakota 'bigness' shows up in the rear seat area. No side-facing jump seats here. This is a bench seat-the bottom of which is split and hinged to provide access to a hidden storage area behind the driver. There is also storage for the tire-changing tools behind the passenger. Storage area in the front seat was on the skimpy side. There were door pockets, but the glove box was very small.
Visibility was excellent. The hinged rear side windows in the cab and a sliding rear window provided a lot of ventilation combinations.
This truck really starred here. It rode well-the 130.9-inch wheelbase eliminated all choppiness. The front independent suspension, front stabilizer bar and gas shocks all the way around made handling very stable. Braking-courtesy of front discs/rear drums with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) on the rear-was sure and straight. Four-wheel ABS is an option.
Our Dakota teamed the optional 220-hp V8 with an optional four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. This power train moves you and your Dakota from point A to point B with authority. You have the ability to out-accelerate most cars. But you must use this power carefully because there is a strong tendency to spin the rear tires.
The advantages of all this power are for highway cruising, trailer towing or driving with the pickup bed loaded. The power train gives you full-size pickup numbers-a payload capacity of 1,450 pounds and a trailer towing capacity of 6,900 pounds.
Once used to harnessing this power, we thoroughly enjoyed driving the Dakota. The power, room and high stance gave this midsize a big rig feel.
This may be a midsize truck to the industry, but it has the look and feel of a full-size truck to us. Dakota is selling very well as pickups increase their market share, and this is a pickup with a lot going for it. Combined with the new full-size Ram, the Dakota makes Dodge a serious force in the light-truck field. We like the size, the power and the capability. We found a few niggling things, but this truck is so versatile that we could easily overlook them.