Dodge Dakota education and feedback needed
We're looking to add another vehicle in the family as we add our 5th driver soon, and we've pretty decided to buy a used Dodge Dakota. For one, we all want a pick-up in the family, daughter #3 specifically wants to drive a pick-up (surpisingly), and we need a TV to replace my minivan with 140,000 miles, which is our current TV. This will allow me to switch to an econo-car for the 25-30k miles I drive annually. So, daughter #3 will use the Dakota most of the time except the 2 weeks and handful of weekends we tow our PUP. We currently have a 1007 PUP but are contemplating a move up to a 1206, 1208, or small hybrid.
I've been examining Trailer Life's towing capacities, and it looks like just about all V-8 4X4 versions of the Dakota Crew/Quad Cab listed will give us 5,000-7,000 # of tow capacity which seems like plenty for the camper we own or want to upgrade to.
My first question is whether these capacities apply to all Dakotas or only those with the factory tow-package installed? I've noticed many used Dakotas for sale, even V-8s, without so much as a trailer hitch let alone the tow-package option installed. Having never purchased a truck before, is a "tow package" just assumed? And, lastly, if I find a V-8 4x4 Dakota without a factory tow-package, can I add the equivalent of a tow package aftermarket an achieve the same 5,000-7,000# tow capacity. I've added airlift bags and a tranny cooler to my minivan and have had no problems towing the 1007 with our 3.8L V-6.
I understand the benefits of a half-ton truck and that would be MY first choice, but it's just not in the cards given our current vehicles, drivers, and needs. DW's vehicle is too new to replace and I need to switch to an econo-car, so one of the DD's is going to have to drive the family's TV as her car the other 50 weeks per year, so a small pick-up is our best compromise. We're open to the Explorer Sport-Trac, Tacoma, or Frontier, but they seem much pricier on the used market. Also open to a Canyon/Colorado with a V-8 but they seem VERY hard to find. The Dakotas seem plentiful and cheapest on the used market.
Thanks for any help you can lend.