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Road Test:
1999 Dodge Dakota "Sport"

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1999 Dodge Dakota

By Mike Lapierre

Lets take a look at the 1999 Dodge Dakota Sport.

The interior is a very nice place to be. All of the controls are laid out in a logical and simple fashion. Everything is easy to reach and easy to understand. Nothing quirky that requires consulting the owners manual to figure out.

The stereo with eight Infinity speakers in six locations and a 100 watt power amplifier is very good indeed, delivering a quality, distortion free sound, even at high decibels.

The seating position is very comfortable, and seats five comfortably. There are lots of storage areas throughout the vehicle - in the doors, between the seats, even on each side of the rear seat.

Visibility is very good except for a blind spot around the drivers side &# 8216;C” pillar. With time, I did learn to adjust to this and find the line of sight I needed.

The Dakota is a very attractive truck. The lines are right on the money - muscular, yet civilized. The color of our test truck was Solar Yellow. At first glance, I must admit that I disliked this color rather intensely. Although it is still not my first choice of colors, I must confess that it has begun to grow on me. 

Dodge Ram in Solar Yellow

The color of this truck is a story in itself. Everyone who sees it has a remark about it! People either love it or they hate it. 

My instinct was that young men in their twenties would be the biggest fans of this color. While there was certainly some truth to that theory, I was pleasantly surprised when a woman in her late thirties pulled up next to me in a 99’ Black Dakota SLT. We exchanged comments about the trucks and she not only said that she loves the Solar Yellow, but she wished she would have purchased a Solar Yellow one instead of black, AND she couldn’t possibly imagine how I could dislike the Solar Yellow color of our test truck! Dodge has certainly done its homework. Although controversial, there is a very definite audience and market for this color!

Performance continues to be the category that sets the Dakota apart from its compact competitors. The only compact pickup with a V-8 engine now has two Magnum V-8 choices. The 230 horsepower, 5.2-liter version and the 250 horsepower, 5.9-liter option available only on the R/T. 

The most popular Dakota engine is the 3.9-liter Magnum V-6, which delivers 175 horsepower and 225 lb. ft. of torque. To meet the growing list of entry-level compact pickup buyers, Dodge will continue to offer the most powerful four- cylinder engine in the class, the 120 horsepower, 2.5-liter Magnum Inline 4.

Our test truck had the 5.2 liter V8. This venerable 318 is outstanding. Although you pay for the privilege at the pump, the torque and power are a delight to have at the tips of your toes! The mileage ratings for the 4wd Dakota with this engine are: 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway.

The Dakota’s 6,700-lb. maximum towing capacity and 2,000-lb. maximum payload far exceed any other compact pickup, and even goes so far as to rival some full-size pickups.

Dodge has put a lot of thought into offering both quality AND value in the Dakota with details such as:

A full stainless steel exhaust system, including muffler and tailpipe for longer life.  

An optional 22 gallon fuel tank, made of high density polyethylene and mounted within the framerails for safety.

The shift on the fly transfer case allows shifting from 2 wheel drive to 4 wheel drive high range without stopping.

One of the most impressive features was the optional four wheel disc brake package that includes ABS. The 11 inch discs and Anti lock braking system bring the Dakota to a stop very efficiently while offering the driver a high degree of safety and control.

On the road, the Dodge Dakota is very civilized. Off the road, the Dodge Dakota is very competent. 

Off road, the V8 delivers the muscle and the tires deliver the grip. We spent some time off road with this truck and it performed very competently indeed.

One of the unique features of the Dodge Dakota is its size. It is larger than most compact pickups, yet smaller than most full size pickups. As far as I&# 8217;m concerned, it truly offers the best of both worlds and is a perfect size - being neither too large nor too small.

The criticisms of the Dodge Dakota are few and minor:

Reverse lights were not very bright, making it difficult to back up in the dark.

The door accessing the center console wouldn’t stay up, making it rather annoying to access anything inside.

The drivers seat had to be readjusted several times to get just the right position after tilting it forward to access the rear seat.

The drivers side “C” pillar was a blind spot that make lane changes a challenge, however I soon adjusted to this and was able to learn where to look before making lane changes.

The true test of any vehicle is answering the question of whether or not I would buy this vehicle with my own money, or encourage others to do so with their own money. The answer with the Dodge Dakota to both questions - is a resounding yes. The Dakota is a well balanced package offering great value, features and quality. 

Although opinions varied on the color of this Dakota, everyone who saw the truck liked it very much and had positive things to say about it. If fact, I really hated to see this truck go. The Dakota is competent, civilized, just the right size and a very good value for the price. Back Country Journal highly recommends it.

Below Are Photo's Of
The New Dakota Quad Cab

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