Whether you’re a contractor looking for a vehicle that can accommodate a couple of workers and still have room for supplies, or a family where the parents just can’t give up the truck for the kids, the 2000 Dodge Dakota quad cab should more than satisfy.

Then again, you may be a contractor with many kids — double bonus.

The truck offers a sculpted, smooth, yet rugged look, and the one I test drove was a show-stopping, fire engine red. Even though I was at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Mich., and all of the other people there were also test-driving vehicles, people couldn’t help but notice this one.

This compact Dakota sports the wider-size cab found on the Dodge Durango for added comfort. The back doors open a full 84 degrees, making it easy to maneuver those odd-shaped items into the back seat.

Another great feature is its moveable back seats. You can put the seat back down or raise the seat itself up against the back, creating space for taller items inside the truck when security or rain are concerns.

Speaking of seating, the standard model seats five, with a surprising amount of leg room in the back. An optional front bench seat brings the seating capacity up to six.

Engine size, storage capacity

The quad cab comes with a standard 3.9-liter, 6-cylinder engine. Two optional engines are available: The next-generation, 4.7-liter “Magnum” V-8 weighs in at 235 hp.

For those who really want a powerful truck, there is the 5.9-liter, 8-cylinder engine that raises the towing capacity to 6,350 lb.

The 5-ft, 3-in. truck bed has been designed for quick, simple conversion to two levels, allowing for maximization of storage. All you need are a couple of boards. Also available is a gull-wing hard cover, with two “half-wings” on the front half of the cover that open toward the center of the truck.

Part-time four-wheel drive is standard, with rack and pinion steering. Full-time 4WD can be added for $395.

Creature comforts

Extra padding above the doors offers added protection for those misjudgments of distance. Grip handles in the front for climbing in are placed low enough to be used comfortably, but not so low that they don’t work well.

Lacking is a similar aid for climbing into the back seat. However, the back does offer a cup holder, great for that early morning coffee. An added bonus is that the cup holder can be pushed back into the seat and out of the way when not in use.

With the year 2000 Dakota quad cab, Dodge seems to have done its homework and found a way to combine comfort and configuration options into a truck that still looks and drives like a truck.

This is no SUV-truck hybrid, painted bright yellow to detract — or draw — attention to its strange shape. This is a truck.