I have a 2005 Dakota Quad Cab Laramie with the 4.7-liter High Output V8 and All-wheel drive. The only way I recommend a Dakota is with the High Output V8. It has a better rear end, limited slip, and less restrictive exhaust. All of this adds up to better performance, better handling, and better traction. Add this to the Dakota's good looks and I think it's a winner.
Styling. It does not look like everyone else's compact trucks. And the 4.7-liter High Output engine I already mentioned.
Interior is a bit plasticky, even on the Laramie model. Could use some softer trim surfaces, especially on door panels, dash, and center console. Also while it gets decent fuel economy on the highway (18-20), it's not very good around town (13-14).