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2003 Dodge Dakota

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Truck
2-6 Seats
14-19 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview
Only V-6- and V-8-powered versions of Dodge’s midsize Dakota pickup truck are available for the 2003 model year because the four-cylinder engine has been dropped. A new Stampede Appearance Package will be added during 2003; offered on regular cab and Club Cab Sport models, this option group includes ground-effects side moldings, wheel flares, 16-by-8-inch aluminum wheels and a rear stabilizer bar.

All-disc brakes are now standard for the Quad Cab, 4WD and performance-oriented R/T models. Newly styled cast-aluminum 16-by-7-inch wheels are installed. Dodge now offers a five-speed-automatic transmission that features a dual-ratio second gear, which teams with the 4.7-liter engine.

A value-priced but boldly styled SXT model tempts budget-minded shoppers. The lineup also includes base, Sport, Sport Plus, SLT and SLT Plus trim levels. The top performer is the Dakota R/T (road and track), which is equipped with a 250-horsepower V-8 engine, front and rear stabilizer bars, unique suspension tuning, P255/55R17 tires and a stance that’s 1 inch lower than usual. Dakotas were last redesigned for the 1997 model year.

Exterior
Basic Dakota styling is patterned after the company's full-size Ram pickup. Regular cab, Club Cab (extended-cab) and Quad Cab body styles are available. The four-door Quad Cab rides the same 131-inch wheelbase and measures the same 215 inches in overall length as the Club Cab. Because the Quad Cab devotes more space to passengers, it ...
Vehicle Overview
Only V-6- and V-8-powered versions of Dodge’s midsize Dakota pickup truck are available for the 2003 model year because the four-cylinder engine has been dropped. A new Stampede Appearance Package will be added during 2003; offered on regular cab and Club Cab Sport models, this option group includes ground-effects side moldings, wheel flares, 16-by-8-inch aluminum wheels and a rear stabilizer bar.

All-disc brakes are now standard for the Quad Cab, 4WD and performance-oriented R/T models. Newly styled cast-aluminum 16-by-7-inch wheels are installed. Dodge now offers a five-speed-automatic transmission that features a dual-ratio second gear, which teams with the 4.7-liter engine.

A value-priced but boldly styled SXT model tempts budget-minded shoppers. The lineup also includes base, Sport, Sport Plus, SLT and SLT Plus trim levels. The top performer is the Dakota R/T (road and track), which is equipped with a 250-horsepower V-8 engine, front and rear stabilizer bars, unique suspension tuning, P255/55R17 tires and a stance that’s 1 inch lower than usual. Dakotas were last redesigned for the 1997 model year.

Exterior
Basic Dakota styling is patterned after the company's full-size Ram pickup. Regular cab, Club Cab (extended-cab) and Quad Cab body styles are available. The four-door Quad Cab rides the same 131-inch wheelbase and measures the same 215 inches in overall length as the Club Cab. Because the Quad Cab devotes more space to passengers, it comes with a shorter, 5.5-foot cargo bed. The Quad Cab version can tow as much as 6,050 pounds.

Although regular-cab models use a 6.5-foot cargo bed, they have shorter dimensions than the Quad Cab for both the wheelbase and overall length. Regular cabs measure 196 inches long overall on a 112.1-inch wheelbase. Unlike other extended-cab compacts, no rear doors are offered on the Dakota Club Cab. The value-priced SXT model includes graphite bumpers, fascia, grille and fender flares, along with sporty 16-inch aluminum wheels.

Interior
All Dakotas may be equipped with either a front bench or a pair of front bucket seats. Club Cab and Quad Cab models have split rear benches with cushions that fold for extra storage space.

Because the Quad Cab’s interior is about a foot longer than the Club Cab’s length, its backseat is vastly roomier. Space for adults in the Quad Cab’s rear seat is adequate, but they will likely be cramped in the Club Cab. Tall rear doors that open 90 degrees on the Quad Cab ease entry and exit.

Under the Hood
A 175-hp, 3.9-liter V-6 serves as the base engine, but Dakotas are unique among compact pickups because they can be fitted with V-8 power plants. A 235-hp (230 hp in California), 4.7-liter V-8 is available for all three body styles. A 245-hp, 5.9-liter Magnum V-8 — which is larger than the V-8s in some full-size pickups — is available for all body styles. A special 250-hp version goes into the sporty Dakota R/T. Three transmissions are available: a four-speed automatic, a five-speed automatic and a five-speed manual. A dashboard switch controls transfer-case operation on four-wheel-drive (4WD) models.

Safety
Four-wheel antilock brakes and roof-mounted side curtain-type airbags are optional.

 
Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2003 Buying Guide
Posted on 1/29/03

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.0
29 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.1)
Performance
(3.8)
Interior Design
(3.8)
Comfort
(3.9)
Reliability
(4.0)
Value For The Money
(4.0)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

best car i have ever owned

by clyde from greenville sc on October 30, 2018

this is the best truck ever i really love it and i hope my dad doesnt make me get rid of it. i havent gotten to take it to a drive in movie yet and im pretty sad about it. Read full review

(5.0)

Great sized pick up for hauling everyday items.

by lbartist from Rehoboth, MA on October 24, 2018

After owning other small trucks we have had 2 Dakotas. The size not too small and not too big. Comfortable and good ride. Dependability is always a must and this has been excellent. Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2003 Dodge Dakota currently has 11 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2003 Dodge Dakota has not been tested.

Latest 2003 Dakota Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Dakota received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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