We got this with 29k miles for $7700 because it had blemishes in the hood paint from overwaxing and engine heat, and had a crappy bed cover. The computer that ran the lighting system broke the day we got it, and the passenger's window button didn't work. But those were easily replaced. This is my first vehicle, I like it because it is as big as the car I trained in, and has a bed for my fishing stuff. I had to buy new tailgate cables, as someone cut them. I also bought a locking gas cap for $15 and it fits, never too careful with gas at 4$ a gallon.
Bed length, engine, brakes, steering
standard locking tailgate, better air intake, heat shield for hood, and lighter colored controls, its hard to see the controls in an all black interior at night.
Bought truck new in sept. 2001, at current have 61k on it. Love the looks, comfort, and power of the truck. It has had a small share of problems: currently on it's third set of rotors for warping and corrosion, also has had its share of electrical glitches and a power steering leak etc, but has never left me stranded. Current issues occurring now are: vib/ noise from pass front wheel, and a sticky caliper. Just problems develop as a a vehicle ages. Still love the truck, and would keep it indefinitely but I need the passenger space of a crew cab.
Looks of the 97-2004 body design,comfort, and overall power/mpg of the 4.7 v8 (16 mpg avg lifetime)
Need to improve quality of rotors, chassis parts: ball joints,wheel bearings, etc. and electrical.
I have been very satisfied with this vehicle, up until now when the fuel prices have gone sky high. Mileage not bad in summer highway driving, but in cold winter temps it is poor. One power window motor quit working at about 40k miles. Had 2 factory recalls for the ball joints and a shift lever block problem. They were easily taken care of by dealership.
4 door with ample room in the back seat. Good stereo system with cassette & cd player.
I liked the 4.7 until I found out that by the time the check gauges light comes on, it is too late. My Dakota is sitting in the driveway with a blown motor. This all-aluminum engine is VERY prone to overheating, which will quickly ruin it. Turns out the water pump is very fragile too. Not sure whether the water pump or the head gasket went first. This is with only 76,000 miles on it. Suggest carefully looking at the 5.9 engine, even though it has a little less power and less mileage.
Great truck with great reliability and power. Very fun to drive with great handling, only downfall is fuel economy. I get around 12 to 13 mpg, but other than that this is a great truck. I drove a standard cab Dakota 2wd 3.9 L V6 than upgraded to this 4wd 2 dr ext cab with a 4.7 L V8 and love it. Does very well in the snow too.