I had a solar yellow r/t and it was a great truck. That thing had tons of power and was pretty fast. I never had any issues with it. I drove great, was comfortable, parts were cheap, looked great, an all around good truck. It had 142,000 miles on it when I sold it. I sold it due to the gas mileage and gas prices but I miss that truck everyday and plan on getting another soon.
At 117+K miles, it's still completely trustworthy (17 city, 20+ highway with a 3.9L V6). I've done the usual scheduled maintenance and replaced a few things along the way (water pump, power steering hose, idle motor, battery, filters, serp belt, shocks, etc.), but nothing extreme. The biggest one was to replace a couple of creaking factory front suspension links with zerk-equipped aftermarket units. The 'shift profile' of the auto tranny IMO upshifts too quickly for the V6, impacting acceleration if you're not familiar with its behavior. It's fine in the flatland, but in hills (particularly on cruise), it downshifts a lot, sometimes drastically. All in all though, I still like it a lot.
I'm almost 6'2" and really have enjoyed the legroom in the Dakota. With my driver's seat pushed all the way back, I can lock my knees and my foot (under the brake pedal) is still off the floor. The overall size of the Dakota is great for me - Plenty of room without the usual pickup 'hugeness'.
Make the back "seat" (i.e., slab of upholstered foam on the floorboard) more substantial.
Only owning this truck for a year, I can't really say how reliable it's been before me, but it feels like it's been well maintained, has 100K miles now. It is a great vehicle to drive, it feels like a bigger vehicle than it really is and very comfortable and plenty of power. I have had to put all new ball joints on it but that is one of the common problems with Dakotas, the gas mileage is pretty poor, about 15 mpg but it has a 5.2 L V8, you want great gas mileage buy something else, though I understand the newer V6 gets close to 20 mpg. It would probably be smarter get the V6 as the V8 is more power than most people need. Anyway I love this truck and would buy a new one if could afford to.
I've owned my Dakota for five years now. Bought it with 26000 miles, now has 64000. Only thing I have replaced has been the battery. Haven't replaced a single other thing. Not a u joint, ball joint, brake pad, muffler, anything! Here's the best part. I also plow my snow with it up here in Michigan's upper peninsula. We get around 250" of the white stuff every winter so I use it a lot. I have a Blizzard 720LT plow for it and it pushes all the snow you'd ever want. People think that using your truck to plow snow is too hard on them, but not my Dakota. I know many guys with Fords and Chevys who plow and they're always getting something fixed. They quality of this truck has been superb!
Superior quality. Great looks. Decent fuel economy.
No third door to access rear seat. Larger than usual blind spots with this truck.
1999 Dodge Dakota Extended Cab Sport 2dr Extended Cab SB
Found a gem on craigslist last March and bought a 99 Dakota sport extended cab with 17k original miles (hard to believe but true). All good so far - driven it 5K miles in 9 months and a few oil changes is all the maintenance/repairs thus far. Winter has hit here in WI and an extra 300-400 pounds in the back and traction in manageable around town. Gas mileage leaves something to be desired but I knew that buying a truck. Mine has topper and bedliner and is pretty basic (no power windows or locks - am/fm stereo). Great to haul the kids baseball gear around in the summer and help friends move stuff when they ask!
Rear seats that face forward as opposed to the inside on other extended cab trucks. Center console/armrest is a nice touch and interior seems to be holding up well.
Better gas mileage, factory stereo is plain but works. Going to add a Yakima bike/gear rack to the topper in the spring.