All things considered not a bad truck in a 140k miles. Bought used with 30k miles and 2k later transmission went and was repaired under waranty - no problems since. Have the 5.2l V8 with positraction. Used the truck for hauling a 4500lb boat just about every good weather weekend and commuting to work. Replaced dist pickup at 65k and 120K, O2 sensor at 120k due to a "21"error code, and blower resistor at 110k. Aside from normal wear items such as tires, brakes, plugs, fan belt, radiator hoses etc. no other problems - very reliable. Been using Mobil 1 at 7.5k oil changes and does not leak a drop of engine or tranny oil. As with all these dakotas, the headliner fails, and fuel gauge is whacky.
Great for towing with 3.73 posi rear and 5.2l V8. Easy on tires (lightweight truck). Handles fairly well. AC still works great. Handles a 1/2 ton load easily. Truck feels really solid - little frame twist. ample storage behind seat.
Dash gauges and controls are somewhat fisher price style. Rear jump seat is for looks only. OEM shocks were total crap - but a set of Bilsteins made this truck handle and ride great.
I got this truck for utility functions in addition to going to work and back. The engine purrs like a kitten, which truly amazes me. The tranny (auto) is a little slow to shift in extreme cold, but warm her up and she does just like you'd want. I replaced the brakes in their entirety and all 4 shocks (Rancho). It handles like new... and I got it at a great price. The heat is a little weak when it gets cold, but otherwise, you will have a hard time finding such a wonderful truck at such a great price. I'd drive this thing over a same aged Toyota any day. The engine sounds just like new and I have 113,000 miles on it. It has minor leaks, but, not enough to require servicing between maintenance
The V-6 Magnum has to be one of the best engines ever made. HEMI sounds cool, but this baby is sweet. The handling is well above average, but as I mentioned, I put Ranchos on & Raybestos rotors (which are now made in China-thanks for nothing) and some US Goodyear Fortera Silent Armor's (love these!)
The bench seats were a mistake. The dash looks a little 70's like... but it's a '96, but it's a reliable instrument panel. The people who designed the second row of seats did not love their children. I just use that area for cargo as a kid would crack their head every speed bump.
Awesome truck. Got it for an extremely low price five years ago. Has lasted 13 years of Wisconsin winters and only has a bit of rust under the passenger side door, which is quite an accomplishment. Made it to Colorado and back, and almost kept up with the Wranglers on the Jeep trails. Starts every time I need it to, no matter the temperature. Two weeks ago, -17, -15, -27, -2, and -19, and it started each morning. Little things have been going wrong, 4X4 light doesn't come on (but 4X4 stills works), cigarette lighter is busted, parking brake cable needs a replacement, and AC is out, but that is to be expected with a old truck. All in all, my next vehicle will be a Dakota
Power, reliability, extremely well built
Turning radius is a joke, cup holders are in a bad spot, acceleration is lacking above 50 MPH
My father bought this truck in 2002, my uncle got it after he died, and I recieved it almost 2 years ago. This truck has been put through its paces. It was an escort truck, hauling truck, towing people, wrecked twice (haven't had the money to fix it yet), it has 200,000 on her and still going strong. The only things replaced is the regular maintanance. Other than the headlight which happens to be a tin can since that area is caved in. The most durable and reliable truck ever.
Owned the truck 6 months, first dodge I ever bought. My dad talked me into buying it. I learned 2 things from this truck. 1. I will never buy a dodge and 2. when the check engine light comes on, it's junk. Get rid of it. I have put more money into this truck than i did my 300.00 1988 ranger that has 300,000 Miles. I really do hate this truck.