1996 Dodge Dakota Review

List Price Estimate
$714 - $1,514

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Vehicle overview

Until Toyota launched its T100, Dodge led the pack with a pickup truck that ranked somewhere between compact and full-size. Nothing changed for 1996, aside from the addition of a more powerful four-cylinder engine and three new exterior colors, but the midsize Dakota continues to attract an eager following. Toyota still doesn't offer a V8 engine, giving Dodge a modest edge on that score. In fact, Dodge gives buyers a choice of three engines: a new 120-horsepower 2.5-liter Magnum four, a 175-horsepower 3.9-liter Magnum V6 (standard on 4x4s and Club Cabs), or the optional 220-horsepower 5.2-liter Magnum V8. Unless you rarely carry any cargo to speak of, go for one of the upper engines and skip the four cylinder.

A driver's airbag is standard, and antilock braking is available. Inside, Dakota's styling will transport you back into the go-go eighties, though the driving position is fine and you know you're unquestionably inside a truck, not a car--especially with that long manual gearshift protruding from the floor. The standard three-passenger bench seat feels better than optional buckets, which aren't as supportive as some. Gauges are small but complete, in a vertical, squared-off dashboard of dated design.

Club Cab models are the most popular, though what you get is an extremely low back bench that runs across the width of the cab, its split-folding feature standard. Front occupants in Club Cabs have a 60/40 split bench with center armrest. Behind the front seat is 25.2 cubic feet of cargo space.

Payloads can reach 2,600 pounds with a regular 4x2, and 2,000 pounds for the Club Cab. An SLT package includes a tachometer, carpeted mats, cassette player, and lower bodyside moldings. The Super SLT adds air conditioning and tilt steering, and a Sport Package features a body-color grille.

Crash tests have proven the Dakota to be among the safest of small pickups. Dodge offers a good value here, and a shortbed Sport equipped with the V8 is a serious straight-line performance pickup. Still, this design is a decade old, and an all-new truck featuring Ram-like styling is due within a year or two. Drive the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma before settling on a Dakota.

1996 Highlights

America's first midsized pickup, the 1996 Dodge Dakota gets a more powerful standard four-cylinder engine, revised sound system, and three new colors.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1996 Dodge Dakota.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

This is the 6th dodge truck ive owned
I bought this truck 3 months ago for $2500.00 and its the best $2500.00 I've ever spent.Truck has 180,000 and runs like a champ.The 6th dodge I've owned and as you can see it will always be this way. Dodge Dakota best truck on the road.
Good truck for the $
All things considered not a bad truck in a 140k miles. Bought used with 30k miles and 2k later transmission went and was repaired under waranty - no problems since. Have the 5.2l V8 with positraction. Used the truck for hauling a 4500lb boat just about every good weather weekend and commuting to work. Replaced dist pickup at 65k and 120K, O2 sensor at 120k due to a "21"error code, and blower resistor at 110k. Aside from normal wear items such as tires, brakes, plugs, fan belt, radiator hoses etc. no other problems - very reliable. Been using Mobil 1 at 7.5k oil changes and does not leak a drop of engine or tranny oil. As with all these dakotas, the headliner fails, and fuel gauge is whacky.
My Baby
Greg Svatora,12/05/2005
Purchased truck in high school, drove through college, now married and still running. Truck is amazing in all weather. Only minor problems over 110,000 miles, including the standard crap Dodge transmission. I mostly drive unloaded but tow cars probably 1500-2000 miles/yr and it works great. Can't wait to get some money to put some performance stuff in her. I get great mileage, 20 mpg with the 5.2L on straight highway miles, 16-17 on normal driving. Little tip...Firestone Destination LE tires are amazing on this truck.
Love my truck
My truck is as reliable as the sun, hasnt given one moments trouble and i would be afraid to drive to the north pole in it if there were roads! This is the truck i want to be driving when i'm 80!

Features & Specs

See all Used 1996 Dodge Dakota features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1996 Dodge Dakota

Used 1996 Dodge Dakota Overview

The Used 1996 Dodge Dakota is offered in the following submodels: Dakota Regular Cab, Dakota Extended Cab. Available styles include WS 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.5L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), Sport 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.5L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.5L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Regular Cab LB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab LB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), WS 2dr Regular Cab LB (2.5L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), WS 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), Sport 2dr Extended Cab SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Extended Cab SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), WS 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), Sport 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Extended Cab SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), Sport 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), and SLT 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 1996 Dodge Dakota?

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Which used 1996 Dodge Dakotas are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1996 Dodge Dakota for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1996 Dodge Dakota.

Can't find a used 1996 Dodge Dakotas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Dodge Dakota for sale - 6 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $9,391.

Find a used Dodge for sale - 3 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $11,834.

Find a used certified pre-owned Dodge Dakota for sale - 8 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $9,856.

Find a used certified pre-owned Dodge for sale - 7 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $13,298.

Should I lease or buy a 1996 Dodge Dakota?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Dodge lease specials
Check out Dodge Dakota lease specials