My wife and I bought our Dakota brand new as our first new vehicle. We have been quite happy with the room and reliability of this truck. Because we have three girls 6 and under, we have the base model and we don't think we have suffered at all. We have traveled cross country twice with no problems. Aside from a few warranty items I have not had any major problems with this truck.
Excellent truck overall. Dodge could do better with their fuel consumption...for the size of the truck. It gets 15 around town and 17 on the freeway; nowhere near Dodge's MPG ratings. Good cargo capacity and towing as well. Overall a great truck, just make sure you are ready for poor MPG, especially with the 4.7 V8. A well put together truck with great options and interior layout.
Perfect size bed for a compcact to mid size truck.
Dodge could really improve the Dakota by offering the diesel engine in it; the same one made by Mercedes that they are putting in the new Libertys in 2005.