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#524 of 840 2004 Dodge Dakota, 4x2 versus 4x4... need some input
Nov 04, 2003 (11:40 am)
I am looking to buy a 2004 Dakota club cab with the V6 in the next 60 days or so. It will be a daily driver for me. I have never owned a pickup before, and I am hoping to get some input on whether I should go for the 4x2 or 4x4.
I am wanting the Dakota V6 for some light hauling(standard home improvement projects) and some light towing(small bass-fishing boat). I live in central Illinois, where the winter weather usually gets bad a few times a year. I could see myself making use of the 4 wheel drive some, but I don't know if it would really be worth the $2000-$3000 extra over the RWD.
Can some of you Dakota owners give me some advice before I head to the dealer to start looking at trucks? Thanks!
Nov 04, 2003 (4:45 pm)
I have owned both 4X4 and RWD trucks. If you expect only an occasional encounter with snow... It may be wise to get the RWD. A second set of wheels fitted with REAL snow tires are more than adequate. Add a couple 50lb bags of sand located over the rear axle and you will not get stuck on snow-covered roads
With RWD the MPG is is better, the ride is smoother, there are less wear-n-tear moving parts.
Here in Vermont, I have more than an occasional opertunity to use 4X4. At least a full month a year I am locked into 4X4. I also know that the RESALE VALUE of a 4X4 retains the initial xtra cost of the 4X4. So I hav more need and less to loose by getting 4X4.
#526 of 840 2-wheel vs. 4-wheel
Nov 04, 2003 (5:18 pm)
Well, I live in snow country (western New York state) and I have found my 2-wheel drive Dakota to be exceptional in the snow. Now, mine came with the limited slip differential and the Goodyear Wrangler SR/A off-road/on-road tires. I have put three 70 lb. bags of sand in it for about a month last winter and the extra weight did make a difference.
I do traverse some unmaintained roads in the winter since I own property near the border of Pennsylvania. During hunting season I have my 650 pound ATV in the back and it is almost like having a 4-wheel drive
Almost. There could be situations where my combination would fail me that only a 4-wheel drive would be truly helpful. But I am careful, even when I'm on the property where there are no roads at all. But 2WD is cheaper, for most people will get better gas mileage, and has less mechanicals to maintain or require service. It really depends on your desire, however. You do not need to "justify" a 4WD just because for others it they don't deem it practical.
My only other comment would be to consider the 4.7 V-8 engine. I believe that you will probably get better gas mileage from the V-6 than you would the 4.7. However, depending on your style of driving the difference may not be much or not all at.
In defense of the 3.9 motor, for a six I think it has plenty of torque and power. I've driven several in regular cab, and one extended cab and for everyday use with occasional hauling I think they are fine. In a Quad Cab or a 4x4 the six might leave you with an unrewarding experience. A lot depends on what you've been use to driving and expect for power.
In my Club Cab I have gotten very good mileage with the 4.7 (287 CID) engine. But I drive sedately. When loaded with the ATV and gear my Dakota still has plenty of power for hills and such, not even downshifting unless its a real steep grade. The price is paid, however, if I drive impatiently. It can easily turn in MPG in the 14s if I get on it a little bit.
My weekly average is 17.4 back-and-forth to work, around town. My loaded interstate best was 20.76, unloaded I just turned in 22.96 MPG. My to-date average is 16.54. Cold weather and short trips take their toll.
I have found my Dakota to be a very comfortable and pleasant vehicle to drive. It's just the right size, and with the front and rear sway bars and larger tires it handles exceptionally well, in my opinion. I have had no defects in components or in assembly at 17,070 miles.
Best of luck,
#527 of 840 RE: 2-wheel vs 4 wheel
Nov 05, 2003 (6:59 am)
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!
#528 of 840 Seth.............
Nov 05, 2003 (9:33 am)
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.
Nov 05, 2003 (9:37 am)
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
Nov 05, 2003 (9:49 am)
(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.
#531 of 840 Thanks to all! (4x2 vs 4x4)
Nov 05, 2003 (1:57 pm)
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?
#532 of 840 order what you want
Nov 05, 2003 (7:06 pm)
(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.)
*)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.
#533 of 840 Considering the new 3.7v6
Nov 05, 2003 (7:29 pm)
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.