Bought this truck from my father in late 2002. Had it until I sold it in Summer of 2009. It had 218,000 miles on it when I sold and was still running great. Never had to do more than change the brakes, tires and oil. Started to rust a bit at the end, but that was expected.
1998 Dodge Dakota Regular Cab Sport 2dr Regular Cab LB
My Mom purchased this truck and it is simply amazing. We have an automatic and even the auto is quick. The interior is comfortable with a spacious armrest for even more comfortable driving. The sound system that comes stock is amazing and sounds great with tapes or just good old FM/AM radio. The drive is smooth and it absorbs bumps easily. We have had problems with the AC, but that's normal and our tranny line busted. AC get's pricey obviously, but a simple hose is nothing to repair. Fantastic truck I would recommend it to anybody!
Sound system, smooth ride, comfortable seats, quiet interior and exterior, very sleek design. It also has good crash test ratings. (It's a Dodge and they are so sturdy/heavy that in order lower the vehicle you have to pay extra for suspension.)
If the AC is a problem in other models of the same year, then AC work. Other than that it's a great vehicle.
1998 Dodge Dakota Regular Cab Sport 2dr Regular Cab SB
The Good: Good interior, lots of truck for the money. Fairly decent fuel mileage. The Bad: Ball joints were completely worn out. Replacing them requires chiseling and/or grinding steel rivets off. Cheap plastic interior pieces, not very well put together. The Ugly: Designed by an accountant. Control-arm bushings are not replaceable. The whole control-arm needs replacing at over $300 per. Rubber plug in the differential cover. Non adjustable clutch master/slave cylinder. Very notchy 5-speed, with completely wrong ratios for the 4 cylinder engine. Will not pull even a moderate incline at highway speeds in 5th gear. 50 year old pushrod engine design. Not even a crossflow cylinder head.
Even the shortbed has a fairly good capacity. Nice highway ride. Parts are relatively cheap and plentiful. Decent interior room even in the standard cab version.
Move the ignition coil location from the side of the engine block where it absorbs great amounts of heat. My coil was lazy and weak. Replaced it with an Accel high performance coil, which improved acceleration and overall engine performance. I also raised the drivers seat i inch.
I bought my '98 Dakota 4x4 about a year and a half ago and it has been a great truck. The 5.2L 318 has plenty of power, and the limited slip rear end makes for great burnouts. The 4 wheel drive is unbelivable. I've had it burried in mud to the point where the ground was even with the bottom of my window and I put it in reverse and it crawled right out to my suprise, and to the dissapointment of the angry hunters chasing after me. The only things that have been replaced in 63,000 miles are the water pump, ball joints, exhaust ( wasn't loud enough) and tires. The water pump and ball joints were a lot cheaper and easier to install than I thought they would be. The tires not so much.
Instead of spending time making fancy gadgets that tell me that I'm getting 13.3 MPG, Dodge should have figured out how to make it get better gas mileage. Better stereo, Infinity stinks. It should have stock 31" tires. 2nd gear is kind of slow. The V-8's need 4- wheel disk brakes.