I bought this truck new in 2002 and have loved it all the while. Only had to replace an o2 sensor. My previous truck was an Isuzu and the Dakota is a million times better. I haul welders, tools and a trailer, so it gets used. I expect to get another 8 years out of it. I get about 13 mpg with tools in and about 17 mpg empty. I put an extra leaf spring in it to help haul the weight which was a great idea.
smooth quiet ride and handling
make the dashboard dish deeper so my sunglasses don't go flying off when going around corners.
I've had the 4.7L for 8 years and as a whole it has been decent. I like the ride comfort, roominess of the cab, power and the 4wd in the snow. However, the front end has been painful to maintain. Seems that it always has issues whether it be ball joints, cv joints, flex hoses, calipers seizing up, various bushings needing replacement, etc. The calipers have actually seized 3 times. Crazy. Without the front-end problems this would have been the best vehicle I've ever owned. Since this is not the case, the '83 Subaru GL 4wd I had in college still reigns supreme.
I purchased this truck new, and have done the maintenance. (4.7 V8, automatic) It's the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned. 148,000 miles and counting. Cost per mile for maintenance and repairs is only $0.025. 19.6 MPG since the day I bought it(I have a soft tonneau on it). It still looks good and has no squeaks or rattles. I'm very happy with this truck.
Looks, reliability, sound system (stock AM/FM/CD).
Bought new in '02. Love the looks of this model year and still get compliments on it. Great versatility for hauling cargo and misc. stuff in the bed and comfortable enough to fit four adults or family in the cab. It's been a reliable vehicle, but one thing I'd do over is opt for the larger engine. Same or better mileage with the V8 and better performance. Still a wonderful truck!
Looks of the truck inside & out. Solid feel, comfortable seats. Reliability.
Best truck I have owned yet. Went looking for a new one this summer and was not happy. They have nothing like this out there. Ford and Chevy gave up making Rangers and S-10's. Toyota has a smaller interior. This truck has been excellent in upper Michigan. In snow and off road it handles like a champ. Never had any major issues yet and has been a joy to drive. I plan on keeping it for another 80K. Why spend money on the new junk! The 4.7l V8 really goes and has tons of power that can tow a 24 ft trailer with no problem.
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