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Dodge Dakota - General Topic

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  • Wow, that is some great input, Dusty! Thanks for the views! The 4-wheel drive is something I certainly would only need on rare occasions. As I mentioned, I have an aluminum bass fishing boat that I would be pulling about every other weekend, and the 4 wheel drive could come in handy on some of the steeper boat ramps I use. But even then it probably wouldn't be needed.

    I do know that the V6 is re-done for the 2004 models. It is now a 3.7L, at 210 HP! The specs from Dodge say the gas mileage is a little better now, but EPA projections are the same as the 3.9L.

    I guess one thing that really got me thinking 4WD was that some people I know who drive 2WD (One drives a Ram 1500, the other an S-10) say that they would have liked 4WD. That is strange considering neither of them do much hauling or towing...

    Thanks again for the advice, Dusty!

    Seth
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Don't get me wrong, if 4-wheel drive was only a $500 option, I might have opted for it. The fuel consumption difference is in the extra weight and driveline friction. On the Dakota is probably costs the average owner about one MPG average. In today's economy that isn't going to break the backs of most people who drive 10,000 miles or less a year.

    Actually, my biggest concern would be maintenance and replacement cost issues. When I did auto repair for a living I always dreaded working on a 4x4 no matter who made it or what it was. They were a pain in the butt to work on certain areas or components. Even changing to oil filter on a 4x4 Dakota is a little more complicated and inconvenient from what I've read.

    I know what you mean, though, about boat ramps. I have had a few nighmarish problems with a few myself and on those occasions a 4-wheel drive would have resolved the problem. Since you do tow a boat I would strongly recommend that as a minimum limited slip differential should be a must for you in a 2-wheel drive.

    Best regards,
  • I also live in Central Illinois. I bought my 03 Quad 2wd due to the flat land around here and very little snow (usually) to deal with. I got the 3.9 mainly because of the price difference. Just for kicks I keep track of the Dakotas and what engines they have (earlier badged ones with the v6 or 8 on the front fender). I see the 3.9 motors at least 3 to 1 over the v8's around these parts. Most of the dealers near me stock the v6's over the v8's so the 8's usually command higher prices due to their options. I would have preferred my SXT with the 4.7 v8 but that wasn't an option. If Dodge ever packages the Dakotas that way I bet they won't be able to keep them on the lots. I could have special ordered a Dakota with the exact options I wanted but I really got a good deal on my truck so I didn't pursue it. If you find any 03's still on the lots you should be able to get a good deal. One dealer is offering discounts of $5,000 and I bet you could haggle it down even more. Good Luck :-)
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,083
    (wolfinblue) The 3.7L v6 is actually the 4.7L V8 with 2 cylinders lopped off. The 3.7L has been used for several years in some other vehicles in the DC (Damler Chrisler) fleet (Jeep). It has a few years of 'tweaking' to get it right.
  • Thank you all for your advice on the subject! I am probably 90% going towards the 4x2. A 4x4 is still a possibility, but I can't justify the $3000 extra for my needs right now.

    Now its time to decide on Manual vs Auto transmission! I have checked with a couple dealers and their manual transmission selection is pretty slim. It's another $1000 for the auto, and I would almost prefer a stick...

    One more question I'll throw out: Did any of you Dakota owners special order your truck? I'm a little flexible on color, but options and features I'm pretty set on... Can anyone share their ordering experience?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,083
    (wolfinblue) You are misleading yourself when you say "special order".. there is nothing "special" about it.

    You just tell the salesman EXACTLY what you want and wait about month. The window sticker will say "this truck built for Wolfinblue"

    Ordering a vehicle is the best way to go because you get what YOU want and it costs less too. (All they have to do is take your order and they have sold a vehicle...)

    My ordering experience:
    1) Research, research and research some more. Read the archives of the numerous Dakota websites.

    2) Know EXACTLY what you want and the option-mix that you prefer. There are several websites that explain how the various options can 'mix -n- match'

    3) Those same websites tell you EXACTLY what the dealer cost is for every option. (There are even 'discounts' for some option-mixes)

    4) Enter the dealership WITH YOUR RESEACH FOLDER. Speak to a salesman and explain EXACTLY what you wish to do. I made it very clear that I was not there to play a negotiation game. I will make an offer and they can take it if they wish. (I offered 4% over dealer cost and they jumped on it)

    5)The salesman takes your order and explains the delivery turn-around-time.( I received my truck in less than a month.)

    NOTES:
    *)Become a "Farm Beuaru" member for $50.... all members get $500 off any Dodge truck purchase.
    *)They will try to sell you extra stuff like xtended warantee... be expecting to negotiate on that kind of stuff.
    *)I always ask them to 'throw in' the factory shop manual... if you are at all interested in how the various systems on your truck work... It expains these things very well.
    *)I got them to 'throw in' mudflaps too.
    *)Dont forget to check out the Dodge truck accessory catalog. Any accessories bought at purchase-time are coverd under the vehicle warantee. (I got the factory runningbaords so my wife can climb into the truck)
    *)Dont expect to push too hard on 'freebees' that are 'thrown in' because they are allready making very little on the deal.
  • dako1dako1 Posts: 18
    I have been an owner of a 2000 Dakota with the 4.7 v8 and the 5 speed auto tranny. Other than rotor issues and dried up universal joints I've had virtually no problems over 88,000 miles of driving and I think it's a great truck. Still have the orginal tires and brakes (I commute a 70 hwy mi round trip to work every day). I am contemplating getting another (new) Dakota and am considering the 3.7 v6 because I really do very little hauling or towing. Has nayone had any ownership experience with one of these in the new '04 Dakota or one of the other D/C vehicles that it has previously been offered in. I like the v8 but I'm looking for better mileage.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Well, I've never been in one but a fellow I work with has a Jeep Liberty with that engine and he says it a literal rocket. Those are his words, not mine. He most certainly is very pleased with that motor. I suspect that the Liberty is lighter making it easier to fly.

    Just thinking, I do know another fellow that has a RAM pick-up with that motor and he commented that he was surprised at the available power being a V6. That is a manual transmission, by the way. His top gas mileage was 22+ MPG soon after he got it. Unless it has improved with miles, I've beat that with my 4.7 auto Dakota Club Cab. But, there's probably a weight difference there, too.

    As mentioned earlier, the 3.7 is nothing more than a 4.7 less two cylinders. It uses a polyspherical combustion chamber. In this particular execution it is essentially a hemispherical combustion chamber with one flat bulkhead side. Some referred to this design as a "semi-hemi."

    I would think that this new 3.7 would have a moderately noticeable performance gain over the 3.9 LA engine that is replaces. There are a number of technological advances being utilized in this design besides the combustion chamber shape. Another advantage if you're considering an automatic is the 3.7 gets the 545RFE, five speed adaptive transmission. I have come to love the smoothness of mine.

    By the way, a 3.9 Dakota Club Cab with beat my sister-in-laws two-door 4.3 Blazer with ease.

    Drive one. That's the best way to tell.

    Best of luck,
    Dusty
  • I have 38k on my 01 DDQC. Happy with truck for most part. MPG avg is 15.5, original tires and brakes. Soon for both though. Couple of times with ABS I have been close to not stopping in time on dry pavement. Pedal was hard and just would not slow fast enough. Kinda scary. Good in snow though.

    Anybody have any experience with truck wanting to drift right. This has always bothered me about this truck. Does not matter if road has zero crown, or negative crown, take hands off wheel and slightest bit of bump, wind, twig, whatever, and truck will go to the right. I have had it aligned a couple of times and tires have been rotated as well as pressure checked. To me, the truck also seems like it turns it easier and slower to the right and harder and faster to the left. Not as much steering wheel rotation needed to go left as right.
  • dako1dako1 Posts: 18
    Dusty - I thought that the 3.7 in the Dakota was only offered with a 4 speed automatic. In any event, I plan to drive a new Dakota with the 3.7 and see how it compares to my 4.7. I realize there will be a notable difference but it might be one that I could live with. The other consideration is whether one should wait for the new redesigned Dakota if in fact it is due to arrive in the spring of '04. I would think though that the 3.7 will likely be the standard motor with the updated model as well. Anyway, how did you become so knowledgeable about the Dakota's??
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    You know, I think I made an assumption about the 545RFE transmission. You might be correct now that I think about it. I believe that I read that the 545RFE comes with the 3.7 in the Liberty. That may not hold true with the Dakota.

    How did I become so knowledgeable on Dakotas? Gee, your question alone makes me blush. I don't believe I could quality for expert status. I am a little anal about such things. Doing research is a part time avocation of mine, although in an entirely different venue. I worked in the auto industry for a while, so being inquisitive, anal, and having some knowledge about things automotive just the right combination I guess. Since I now own a Dakota, I'm keenly interested in things "Dakota."

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • Dusty, Rich...

    I believe the auto transmission that comes with the Dakota 3.7L V6 is the 42RLE.

    dataguru
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Yes, I went to the Dodge website and dataguru is correct. The 42RLE auto is used with the Dakota.

    They use the 45RFE (not 545RFE) with the 3.7 on the RAM.

    Thanks, data.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • Yes, 4 speed auto on the V6. I just test drove one on Friday afternoon. A RWD SXT Club Cab. Quite a smooth ride for a truck! I would say I'm about 2 weeks from joining you guys as a Dakota owner! Just gotta configure the truck I want and see if a dealer will be able to get it and get it for me at a good price. $2500 rebate plus $500 Farm Bureau discount makes for a heck of a deal.

    Does anybody know if those rebates come off the top(purchase price of truck) or the bottom line(after taxes, title, etc.)? I looked around here on Edmunds and couldn't find an answer... probably looked in the wrong places though.

    Thanks again to Dusty, dakowner, bpeebles for your advice on my previous questions.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Well....yes. Not trying to be humorous, but technically is doesn't matter. You should be able to get the best deal from the dealer BEFORE the rebates.

    However, I suspect that what a lot of dealers will do is say "Hey, I can make you a great deal by offering you $xxxx off." Of course, if the rebates are $2500 or something like that, a lot of people would say "great" and walk with the deal. But in reality the rebates are factory sponsored and shouldn't have an influence on the deal you make with the dealer.

    Did I make any sense?

    Anyway, hope that helped.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • Yes, that makes sense. The dealership I test drove at is a very high volume dealer. They are running a promotional deal and gave me a price of $100 below invoice, without the $2500 back. $17,891 after the $2500 rebate (and before taxes, title, fees). MSRP on the sticker was $22,035.

    Unfortunately, that SXT I drove wasn't exactly what I'm looking for. 80% what I want, but a couple things missing - most importantly the tow package, and it was the wrong color. They said they won't go that low ($100 below invoice) if I were to order since the promotion is only for vehicles already in stock, but I'm sure I can talk them down to close to invoice, especially since they are a volume dealer. I'm not going to settle for something that isn't quite what I want just because they say they'll give me such a great deal.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Has anybody seen any 2004 Dakotas on dealer lots yet?

    Dusty
  • dako1dako1 Posts: 18
    Dusty - I presume you mean the pre-redesign 2004. I have seen quite a few and they are identical to the 2003 except for the 3.7 V6 change. What I dont like about the 2003 or the 2004 is that all the graphics like the Dakota "Sport" on the sife of my 2000 is no longer there. That and the "chrome" grille -very disappointing; the truck looks so plain. My 200 is the intense blue with silver lettering and it looks sharp. I am contemplating keeping it rather than trading but I will need to stick about $1,000 in it. I fgure new brakes and tires and perhaps other incidental. Any suggestions on tires - mine has the tire package so they are the 31X10.5's and I am looking at a closeout on some Continetals at a local Wall Mart. Any thoughts from on those??? I just don't know if sticking money into a truck with 88,000 miles is a good idea. I almost traded for a leftover 2003 but the dealer would only give me $8,000 for mine. I think that is absurd.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    As to tires I don't think I'm very qualified to give you much of an opinion. I have the Goodyear Wrangler SR/As on mine and I have been very pleased with them. They don't ride badly even at maximum tires pressures. They bite good enough on the turns and have good to better than good traction in snow. I appear to be getting excellent tread wear. The only complaint I have ever had with them is they are noisy, although at 17,000 miles I'm either getting use to the tire noise or they have gotten quieter.

    Yes, my Sport Plus model does not have the word "Sport" anywhere on it, something my 12 year-old daughter is fond of telling me. Mine is a Club Cab and the black solid graphic tape between the door and quarter window on older versions was deleted. However, in all fairness I have gotten some comments from others that mine has a nice "clean" look about it. It is the bright silver with factory flairs and the optional silver wheels.

    I'm not sure what you meant about the chrome grille. Since mine is a Sport model it would be body color anyway, but I think the SLTs still have chrome.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    The other day, in a supermarket parking lot, I saw a fairly rare Dodge Dakota convertible. I thought about one when they came out, but decided to err on the side of practicality. Wrong! Wish now that I had gone that way. Although I have not personally seen that many, (the last one that I saw was on the Long Island to Bridgeport, CT ferry) it was a really cool idea. This truck appeared to be in fairly pristine condition. I forget in what model year(s) they were offered. But, it was an interesting sighting.

    Bookitty
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