All in all, it's decent. I should have never leased. Having a quad cab pickup has come in handy a few times. I think the transmission shifts funny, but another guy at work says his does the same thing. Basically it gets poor fuel mileage and it's as heavy as a tank. Paint on the bed rails is bad. There are lines in the paint underneath the clearcoat. Door moulding is falling off. Took in for first oil change, service guy said I had a rear axle seal leak. this was at 2800 miles. They never called me back to tell me the part was in. Cheap and boring interior. But " I had to have it!" Terrible acceleration unless your foot is to the floor.
Handles well. Goes through the snow with no problem. That's about it.
Fuel mileage. The sticker reads 15 cty/ 20 hwy. The best I have acheived was 17 on a thruway road trip. My average is 15.
I was atracted to the Dakota due to the low price but now wish I had spent a little more up front and bought a Frontier or Tacoma. It rides well around town and on the highway, but offroad it is very disapointing. The ground clearance stinks, and the approach angle is even worse. It needs at least another 2-3'' of suspension to be worthwhile offroad. Oh, and front tow hooks and skid shields aren't even standard on the 4X4.
I bought my '05 Dakota about a year ago and after 24000 miles I have had no problems at all. Fuel mileage was about 18 hiway, before the exhaust and air intake changes, now it's about 20. Fun truck to drive and off road it does very well.
This is a great truck. It is the right size and power level. The interior is well thought out and is welcoming without detracting from the "truck- ness." The 2005's have a better warranty and are identical mechanically and almost identical visually. I have only had this truck for 1600 miles (about 2 1/2 months) and aside from a catalytic convertor problem that was promptly addressed it has been a strong runner. I was wanting a full-size but the gas on those is horrible and for all practical purposes, this truck can tow and haul the same as them (unless you have a massive boat or something at which point you would probably get a deisel) and isn't underpowered like the other midsize trucks.
The ride is good for a truck (the rear suspension could be taught a few manners, though) and the fuel economy and power are just about right. It can tow and haul enough stuff to satisfy all but the biggest movers. The interior is nice but still masculine (its a truck...) and the seats are comfy.
That rear suspension could use a little damping. Other than that, just little things. Also, I should have got the limited slip rear diff cause in the rain in 2WD, you have to be easy with the throttle.
This truck has it all in one versatile package. I can haul 4 adults, a load in the bed and tow a large boat at the same time comfortably. I get decent fuel economy, 18 to 19 mpg in mixed driving but I stick to posted speeds mostly. My kids love the DVD system and the stereo is kicking.
The exterior look.
More engine choices and a little bit softer interior.