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1995 Dodge Dakota Truck

Reg Cab 124' WB Work Special

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  • $11,602 original MSRP
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Printable Version

1995 Dodge Dakota Truck

Printable Version

1995 Dodge Dakota Truck

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1995 Dodge Dakota

Source: New Car Test Drive

Overview

In an automotive world increasingly filled with trucks that have carlike characteristics, the Dodge Dakota pickup is a traditionalist.

It suffers no confusion, no inner conflict about its role in life. It looks like a truck and it drives like a truck. So there.

The Dakota is a midsize truck that roams the ground between compact pickups such as the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet S-Series and GMC Sonoma, and the big mothers such as the Ford F-150, Chevy/GMC C/K series and the big Dodge Ram.

After years of buying its small pickups from Mitsubishi, Dodge created its own niche in 1986 with the home-grown Dakota. It turned out to be a popular size, and continues to be a pacesetter.

Walkaround

Changes to the Dakota for 1995 are confined to a few minor cosmetic revisions, revised padding for the 60/40 split bench seat and the addition of a natural gas fuel option. Otherwise, this is a familiar face, looking very much as it has since 1991.

The Dakota is offered in four trim levels: Base, which is self-explanatory; Work, packaged more for payloads than for pleasure; Sport, which is the model we tested; and the more luxurious SLT. Payloads depend on engine choice and range from 1250 lb. to a hefty 2600 lb.

Three engines are available. The smallest is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder rated at 99 hp at 4500 rpm, and 132 pound-feet of torque at 2800 rpm. Next is a smooth 3.9-liter V6 rated at 175 hp at 4800 rpm, and 225 lb.-ft. at 3200 rpm.

However, nothing exceeds like excess, and the engine we tried was the 5.2-liter Magnum V8 the only V8 available in a compact pickup rated at 220 hp at 4400 rpm, and 295 lb.-ft. of torque at 3200 rpm. That’s the most muscle you can pack into a pickup in this size class. The V6 engines offered in Ford and General Motors compact pickups offer respectable power but the Dodge V8 has a definite edge over both.

The V8-powered Dakota is not exactly a fuel miser, but life could be worse. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated the Dakota will get 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Some of the Dakota’s V6-powered competitors have better mpg ratings, but they can’t match the V8’s hauling power.

Our Dakota Sport had a 5-speed manual transmission and 2-wheel drive. Manual transmissions make the most of an engine’s power, but it’s not as critical with the V8 because power is abundant.

This is one engine that still delivers plenty of grunt when it’s allied with an automatic, and the Dakota’s optional 4-speed automatic transmission makes all-around driving - particularly stop-and-go a little easier.

On the other hand, the V8 delivers enough low-end thrust to make shifting almost redundant. With no load on board, the Dakota gets moving as easily in second gear as it does in first; the V8 will do that easily.

The manual transmission’s shift linkage was relatively smooth, but the shifts themselves were long. This is a truck, after all. The clutch take-up was friendly enough that even manual-transmission novices should have no trouble.

Interior Features

The Dakota is available in either Standard Cab or Club Cab, in 2- or 4-wheel drive. Either short (6.5 ft.) or long (8 ft.) cargo beds are available. The Dakota Sport model we drove was the Standard Cab with the short bed.

This combination provides enough room for driver and passengers, but there isn’t much leftover space with the seat extended to the end of its travel. Only the tiniest of drivers will have any storage room behind the seat of a Standard Cab.

Beyond that, the Dakota’s interior is rather standard fare. The basic driving controls are easy enough to find, but this somewhat dated design isn’t setting any new ergonomic standards. Instruments and materials are average. Chrysler could take a few lessons from Toyota on this score.

However, here, as elsewhere, Chrysler continues to take a leadership role in passive safety. This is one of the very few pickups that includes a driver’s airbag.

The seats are softish and a bench means three people could squeeze in, assuming the middle person is willing to share legroom with the gear-shift lever on a manual.

Driving Impressions

On the road, our Dakota made it abundantly clear that it is not trying to be a car. The steering has a trucklike, loose, vague feeling when the Dakota is pointed straight down the highway, and it doesn’t track back to on-center after the driver has made a minor maneuver.

Part of this is due to excessive assist in the power steering, part of it is due to suspension geometry. Excess power assist, which tends to diminish steering feel, is common to a good many trucks and sport/utility vehicles.

The good news in this connection is that the Dakota is easy to manage at low speeds in other words, it can be maneuvered around parking lots without feeling like a Nautilus machine on wheels. The bad news is the disconnected feeling may make some drivers slightly uneasy. But this is a sensation that quickly fades once you’ve put a few miles behind you.

The Dakota is fairly tall and so there is a substantial amount of body lean even in modestly hard cornering. There is also a slight choppiness to the ride, and on an uneven surface the upward body motions become extravagant, requiring several bouncy cycles before it settles down.

Another of the Dakota’s dynamic traits is a lightness to the tail under moderately hard cornering, particularly when the cargo bed is empty and the road surface is slippery. The driver gets the sense that the truck doesn’t really care too much about which end goes through the corner first, front or rear.

This isn’t surprising, because as with other pickups there is hardly any weight in the back, which means no weight on the rear wheels, which in turn means reduced traction. This heavy forward weight bias when there’s no load is one of the basic pickup truck compromises.

Even so, we think the Dakota’s suspension could use some updating. Even if you accept the Dakota’s truckish ride, it takes a backseat to some of the more contemporary trucks when it comes to handling.

On the other had, the Dakota does have one chassis option 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) that a good many pickups still lack. Most are still equipped with systems that work on the rear wheels only because the forward weight bias of an unloaded pickup could easily result in rear-wheel lockup.

ABS on all four wheels makes emergency stops much easier and safer because the system not only tries to keep the back of the truck in the back, but the driver maintains control of the steering as well. A system in which ABS does not work on the front wheels could mean a loss of steering if the front wheels lock up. Not good.

We were also impressed with the performance of the Dakota’s V8 engine. Acceleration was fairly brisk. Dakota V8 owners should have no trouble merging with interstate traffic or making a pass on a two-lane road.

More important, the low-rpm power and all-around flexibility of the V8 make it well suited to towing and other heavy chores.

Summary

In the end, the Dakota isn’t exactly state-of-the-art, but it has some saving graces. One is the airbag. Another is the optional ABS. The V8 engine option puts the Dakota in a class by itself among compact pickups. And its pricing makes it even more attractive.

If you favor carlike behavior in a pickup, this may not be the truck for you. But if you like the idea of the Dakota’s size and muscle both the V6 and V8 have plenty of punch the Dakota is definitely worth a look.

Model Line Overview
Base Price (MSRP)
$10,781
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Specifications As Tested
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Price as tested (MSRP)
$11,489
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Printable Version

1995 Dodge Dakota Truck

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std
Printable Version

1995 Dodge Dakota Truck

Dodge Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

7-Years/100,000-Miles (whichever comes first). Powertrain Limited Warranty runs from the date vehicle was sold as new.

3-Month/3,000-Mile Maximum Care Warranty. Starts on the date of the CPOV sale, or at the expiration of the remaining 3/36 Basic New Vehicle Warranty.

A deductible may apply. See dealer for details or call 1-800-677-5782
Age/Mileage Eligibility 5 years / 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 125
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $100

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1995 Dodge Dakota Truck

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