Bought this truck nearly 2 years ago. It has the big V8 and so far have been pleased. Spacious interior for small truck and convenient features. Only complaints are: rough shift into overdrive (worries me it may go out, but has been that way since I bought it and hasn't failed as of yet), and POOR, POOR, POOR fuel economy. This truck averages 13-14 MPG which is terrible for a truck this size. Don't know much about the smaller V8 but should have look into it. I bought this privately and got a great deal. I have recently bought a 22' travel trailer and the Dakota pulls it well. So far it's everhying I wanted, with the exception of the large fuel bills.
Easy access to front and rear seats with quad cab. Good performance on dry, wet, mud, and snow conditions. Great towing with big V8. Fun to drive.
Fuel economy. Fuel economy. Fuel economy. Fuel economy. Transmission, no problems yet but rough shift into overdrive worries me.