I can't say about the modern Dakotas. Mine was a 93 model that I ordered and got in Nov. 92. I ordered it expressly to tow the Argosy. I specified the 4.01 rear end, the 5.2L V8 (old 318), the heavy duty suspension package (which really made it a one-ton truck), and the tow package.
It pulled the Argosy great, but it wasn't powerful enough or heavy enough to tow the Excella. Coming back from Michigan last year, I was climbing hills in Appalachia at 55 mph and 3500 RPM.
The truck itself was great. I drove it from 1992 to 2005, and in 128K all it ever needed was the ventilation blower repaired and a new water pump at 100K. And a headlight switch rewiring in the campground at the Ft. Desoto forum rally in October.
The main problem when towing the Excella with the Dakota was passing trucks blowing the back end of the trailer one way and then the front end (and the truck) the other way. I was able to overcome this slightly by driving on the extreme right edge of the lane and then briefly steering toward the overtaking truck as it approached. If I timed it just right, the trailer would be moving leftward just as the air blast from the truck hit the back. I would already be making the correction, and the air blast reaching the front would help me straighten out as the trailer came back into trail in the original position on the far right.
As you can imagine, this requires concentration, and the timing has to be JUST RIGHT. And, by the way, some of the truck drivers REALLY don't like it.
Towing the Excella made me rethink what I want in a tow vehicle.
I decided to get the longest wheelbase, heaviest vehicle I could find. I don't need a truck very often, but when I do, I NEED a truck, so the Suburban would not have worked for me.
I have a friend who has a Durango with the V8, and he's never seen more than 14 MPG from it, even doing a 50 mile commute out in the country. I doubt a Dakota extended cab model would do much better.
1975 Argosy 28 "Argosy"
1979 Excella 500 31 "Betsy"
1992 Lincoln Mk 7 LSC
2003 Dodge 2500 Cummins "TowHog"
"Lucy Loosehair" the cat - Airstream mascot
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