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Long story short: I'm thinking about 'pulling the trigger' and getting a later model Dakota/Mitsu Raider 2WD QC V8 (4.7L). I believe that the 2008 and higher models are the best due to the much higher performance/MPG of their Eights. Can someone clarify if true or not?
 

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All I can contribute is that I rented a new 2004 Dakota QC with 4.7L V-8 and 5-speed auto, when my 92 Dakota was in the shop. I drove it 240 miles in 3 days, commuting, so it's consistent with the way I drive my 92.

My 92 gets 19-20 mpg highway on this ride. The best I could squeeze out of the 2004 was 17 mpg highway. It did ride exceptionally well, it was like a sofa on wheels, very car-like. But then again, for a 21-yr old truck, my Dakota rides beautifully.

Shifted fine, handled fine. Power felt about the same in that heavier truck as with my 92 with V-6.
 

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Bob Lincoln said:
All I can contribute is that I rented a new 2004 Dakota QC with 4.7L V-8 and 5-speed auto, when my 92 Dakota was in the shop. I drove it 240 miles in 3 days, commuting, so it's consistent with the way I drive my 92.

My 92 gets 19-20 mpg highway on this ride. The best I could squeeze out of the 2004 was 17 mpg highway. It did ride exceptionally well, it was like a sofa on wheels, very car-like. But then again, for a 21-yr old truck, my Dakota rides beautifully.

Shifted fine, handled fine. Power felt about the same in that heavier truck as with my 92 with V-6.
Interesting about the hwy MPG's: I had a 2000 Dak QC 4,7L 2WD that I bought new and it returned an honest 18 MPG running at 75 MPH on level terrain.
 

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Well, this was 4WD, so there is a slight mileage penalty. But my truck is 4WD, too - just lighter than later Dakotas.
 

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I'm happy with my '05. Even configured as it is (Laramie Club Cab, 230HP standard-output 4.7, 545RFE, 4x4, 3.55 gears) I can't complain about its 0-60 performance. Passes at highway speed on 2-lane roads take more planning and a longer open space in the oncoming lane than I need in my Challenger, but that's true for most vehicles.

My MPG most likely varies more than yours will, since North Dakota has such distinct seasonal swings. I can see anything from 10 to nearly 20 MPG. My 10-12 MPG tankfuls tend to be exclusively short trips, in winter temperatures well below freezing. I'll see 12-15 MPG for tankfuls that involve a mix of city & highway in winter or summer; spring & autumn highway trips with high winds will tend to fall into this range too. On summer highway trips I can see 16-19 MPG, with rare excursions toward 20 MPG if my driving style, the winds, and the speed limits of the roads I'm using are all in alignment.
 
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