2006 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4x4 Laramie
The Good :) Big bold exterior styling. Host of comfort options. Deep
growling V8 engine. Comfortable ride and spacious interior. 4x4 traction
is a must.
The Bad :( Too much plastic inside. Needs better interior colors. Truck
bed has holes which let dirt under the bedliner.
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The Dodge Dakota was completely redesigned
from the ground up in 2005 and featured some innovative items not seen in
the mid-size truck market. By offering a powerful V-8 engine and a roomy
interior, Dodge leapfrogged the competition by giving more bang for the
buck. The 2006 Dakota is the only truck in the mid-size market that is
available with a V8 engine which gives it best-in-class torque and towing
The 2006 Dodge Dakota 4x4 is
available in either Club Cab or Quad Cab versions. Both versions offer
three trim levels, ST, SLT, or Laramie. Also new this year are four
high-performance models that give either added off-road capabilities or more
street performance tuning. These models are the Dakota TRX, TRX4 Off-Road,
R/T and Night Runner.
The Laramie model tested here
is the top of the line luxury model and comes with a host of features such
as automatic transmission, automatic headlamps,
leather bucket seats with six-way power driver's seat, six-disc CD player,
Alpine six-speaker system with 288-watt amplifier, remote audio controls,
auto-dimming mirrors and Bluetooth wireless technology.
"With bold styling and a variety of versatile body and powertrain options,
the 2006 Dodge Dakota is the leader in the mid-size pickup segment with
several best-in-class claims and an array of unique model offerings," said
Darryl Jackson, Vice President-Dodge Marketing, Chrysler Group.
The Dakota Quad Cab Laramie offers great
exterior looks. The front end is big and bold with large headlamps and a
larger painted front bumper with integrated fog lamps. Two tow hooks
protrude from the lower front bumper for even more rugged looks. The large
black grill is intimidating for anyone who happens to see you coming in the
rear view mirror. A deeply set fender makes the hood bulge out from the
front end. Along the sides we have large 17x8 chrome wheels wrapped in
P265/65R 17 inch tires. Chrome side steps give the Dakota a more finished
appearance. Body cladding on the lower portions of the sides also adds a
bolder touch making construction workers green with envy.
The rear end offers large
flared fenders and big red rounded lamps. Significant badging makes this
truck more special in back from the horns, to the Laramie logo, to the V8
symbol. We though the grab handle to lower the rear lid could have been
stronger feeling and in a chrome material than the black plastic handle on
the lid. The black plastic covered protruding rear bumper also looks a bit
'old school' and should be more flowing with the rest of the truck. The
truck bed is lined with a thick plastic so you do not scratch the paint or
the lip of the truck bed. It would have been nicer if this was in a matching
color to the body. What we learned when we filled the bed up with a yard of
topsoil was that dirt does get stuck under the bed liner by way of holes for
straps. We would not have figured this out had we not gone and filled the
bed with something. This made cleaning a bit difficult and ideally hooks
would be covered and sealed in the bed.
Step inside the Dakota and you find the
most overall room in its class with a clean and macho design theme. Getting
in is made easy by doors that open 90 degrees and this little thing makes a
huge difference in everyday use. Use of boxy shapes is prevalent throughout
the interior; just take a look at the air vents, instrument cluster surround
and the central console. Storage is what most contractors who buy this
truck will look for and while space in the doors is just one large thin bin,
in the center console lies space for pens, pads, cup holders with adjustable
grab handles and a bottle holder. A deep armrest provides space for books
and a laptop.
Parts used inside are a mix of
hard and soft feeling plastics. Large grab handles fitted with a ribbed
plastic feels better than most other parts. The Laramie model offers
standard leather seating surfaces which makes the biggest difference
inside. The doors use hard feeling plastic panels which should be made
soft, even though they are texturized to look like leather. Strong looking
door pulls do not feel so strong when you touch their lightweight plastic.
In some parts you can see screws such as inside the front door pulls. This
can either be construed as a macho or a cheap look. Shiny plastic trim is
used on the center console covering the stereo and ventilation controls and
it did add a nice touch to an otherwise grey interior. By the way, grey is
the only color offered in the Dakota, we would rather like a black or brown
added to the color charts.
The instrument cluster is big and easy to
read. The steering wheel is not adjustable in as many ways as we would have
liked and intrudes into the cabin a bit too much. There are cruise controls
buttons and stereo controls on the back of the steering wheel which are very
convenient. The leather wrapped steering wheel has a nice thick and hefty
feel. Something that could have been made to feel better would be the gear
shift lever, it just felt a bit cheap. Pedals are not adjustable and so you
have to sit close to the steering wheel if you are short, and again it is
not adjustable inward or outward.
The best part of the Dakota is
that it is very roomy. "Longer and wider than the
mid-size competition, the Dodge Dakota offers best-in-class overall interior
space and comfort." said Jackson. The
Dodge Dakota Quad Cab offers the most overall interior space in its class
with available six-passenger seating. There is
55.8 cu. ft. of interior volume in the Dakota Quad
Cab. With rear seats folded, 37.1 cu. ft.
of storage space is available behind the Dakota Quad Cab's front seat.
These two seats in back easily fold up without much complication.
The driver's seat is adjustable in many
ways and they are all powered which is a great thing. The passenger seat up
front is not so lucky. Both front seats have a dual position seat heating
element to keep you warm in the winter. We found the seats to lack
bolstering in the backs so you tend to move a bit too much in turns. The
rear seats are big and roomy but are not angled enough, so you sit in a
position that is too straight. Also in the rear are two cup holders in the
center of the rear cabin and a vent window for the rear trunk bed. We liked
the large windows all around which provide a good view from the high seating
The Laramie edition features a powerful 276
watt 6-speaker Alpine stereo with 6-disc CD player. This along with the
satellite stereo system provided great sound. We hardly ever used the good
old AM/FM radio in our test. Optional features available on all 2006 models
are an audio auxiliary jack that enables playback
of personal audio devices such as an Apple Ipod and a powerful 508-watt
SoundBox. Another great feature was the UConnect Bluetooth phone
system which enables you to have a hands free speakerphone in the car and
you can talk numbers to the system for it to dial while you are driving. A
phone book can also be programmed with names. It is quite easy to use and
though a bit slow and imperfect, works well.
The Laramie model tested here
features the optional 4.7 Liter high output Magnum V8 with 260 horsepower
and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. That is 30 more horses and 20 more pounds of
torque compared to the regular Magnum V8 which is rated at 230 horsepower
and 290 lb.-ft of torque. Dakota 4x4 models come
standard with a part-time 4LOCK and 4LO four-wheel-drive system or available
class-exclusive full-time four-wheel-drive transfer case that provides
all-wheel-drive traction all the time. The Dakota also has a hyrdroformed,
fully boxed frame that makes it much more rigid and strong. The standard
independent front coil-over shock suspension and rear stabilizer bar help
give Dakota its smooth ride and handling with reduced body roll under loaded
Dodge Dakota's hydroformed and fully boxed frame delivers refined ride and
handling, and strength to carry heavy loads," said Mike Donoughe, Vice
President-Body-on-Frame Product Team, Chrysler Group. "We recognize that the
Dodge Dakota is used for family transportation, for the daily commute, and
certainly to tow and haul. Aerodynamics, hydroforming frame rails and
superior craftsmanship make Dodge Dakota an extremely accomplished
For someone who usually drives
a sedan, driving this big bad truck is probably much like driving a semi
tractor trailer. The seat position is high and the engine is powerful.
Push the gas and you hear a nice growl from the big V8. Body lean is
evident but something you can live with. The truck bounces on roads which
are bumpy and this should be controlled. On smooth roads and highways the
truck handles well and is stable at high speeds. You do have a sense of
power and behind the wheel you feel invincible. Steering feel is good and
accurate. This is a great improvement over the previous generation Dakota.
It is also very quite inside which is a pleasant surprise. Dodge used sound
deadening materials and thicker glass to keep things very quite inside the
cabin at normal cruising speeds. The 4x4 model ads a great deal of
stability that the 4x2 did not have. Now you can go fearlessly into dirt
piles and mud pits where with the 4x2 you are basically fooling yourself.
This is truly a great daily driver with power and comfort.
The Dakota offers loads of
safety features that further make it a unique truck. Multistage driver and
front passenger air bags and supplemental side curtain airbags (which are
optional) help a great deal. There's also a replaceable hydroformed front
frame structure with octagonal front frame rail tips. Large front disc
brakes and standard rear or available four wheel antilock brakes help
prevent wheel lockup and improve steering control. Rear seats also have
head restraints with a foam padded steel rod structure and ladder style
design for a clearer view out back.
A three year or 36,000 mile
basic limited warranty applies. Towing assistance is free during the
warranty period as well.
Our test vehicle starts off at a base price
of $29,790. Optional are many items inside such as the skid plate group for
$170 which includes tow hooks, a fuel tank skid plate shield, and a transfer
case and front suspension skid plate. The sport appearance group for $295
features body color grille, side molding, front fascia, and rear bumper. A
trailer tow prep group for $525 offers a heavy duty service group, heavy
duty engine cooling, auxiliary in-tank transmission oil cooler, 6 feet by 9
feet power fold away mirrors, a class IV hitch receiver, a 750 amp
maintenance free battery, a 7 pin wiring harness, and heating elements for
the exterior mirrors. Four wheel antilock brakes add $495. Supplemental
side curtain air bags for the front and second row adds $495. A heavy duty
electric full time four wheel drive transfer case is $395. A 5-speed
automatic transmission is $75 more. The main feature, a 4.7 liter high
output V8 Engine with an electric shift on the fly transfer case and
anti-spin differential rear axle ads $1,615. A rear sliding window adds
$140. Heated front seats are $250. Chrome tubular side steps by Mopar are
$525. An engine block heater is $35. The Uconnect hands free cell phone
system is $275. Large 265 17-inch on and off road tires are $125. Chrome
clad 17-inch aluminum wheels are $595. The under the rail bedliner is
$245. A destination charge of $645 brings our total as tested price to
$36,690. US or Canadian parts content is 77%. The final assembly point is
Warren, Michigan and the engine and transmission both originate from the
US. The smog index for this truck is 1.0 making it about 2 times worse than
a regular average vehicle. EPA gas mileage as noted on the sticker is 15mpg
City and 20mpg Highway. We got considerably less, coming in at 13mpg in the
city and 17mpg on the highway.