Used 1997 Dodge Dakota Extended Cab

Style:
1997 Dodge Dakota
List price range

Pros

  • Dual airbags, tight turning circle, Ram styling, roomy cab, simplified model lineup, optional V-8 engine, optional ABS

Cons

  • No third door option, cannot use rear facing child safety seat in front seat because passenger airbag cannot be switched off

Used 1997 Dodge Dakota Extended Cab for Sale

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

Frankly, the Dakota was getting about as stale as Halloween candy on April Fool's Day. The exterior was still ruggedly handsome, but the interior was an ergonomic throwback to 1980. SLT models had horrific fake wood that looked like it had been ripped from a '70s tract home basement. Seat comfort was marginal. The best thing the Dakota had going for it was an optional 5.2-liter V8 engine and class-leading bed size.

Now that Chrysler in flush with cash, the Dakota has received a complete makeover for 1997. The most obvious difference is the styling of the new truck. Call it mini-Ram, inside and out. The exterior isn't as attractive as the Ram, mostly because the front end doesn't gel right thanks to a multitude of cutlines around the grille and headlight assemblies. From certain angles, the ellipsoidal grille looks tacked on rather than integrated with the lights and front bumper, giving the truck an oddly proportioned appearance.

Inside, user-friendly controls and displays pass the same work-glove ease-of-operation test that the Ram does. Seats are king-of-the-road high, and infinitely more comfortable. Club Cab models will carry up to six people. Dual airbags are standard, but it is important to note that the passenger airbag cannot be switched off. This means that rear-facing child safety seats can never be used in the front seat of a 1997 Dakota. Babies and young children will need to ride on the rear bench of the Club Cab model. Can't afford a Club Cab? Shop for a Ford Ranger or a Mazda B-Series. They've had passenger airbags since 1995, and they offer a switch to turn off the airbag. Kinda makes you wonder what Chrysler was thinking.

Here's another mystery. The Club Cab offers no third door option. Seems odd from the company that pioneered the fourth sliding door on minivans and is planning a four-door full-size Ram Club Cab for 1998. To get this convenience, you've got to buy a Chevy S-10 or GMC Sonoma. Press materials indicate that the new Dakota is equipped with side door guard beams, but makes no mention that these beams pass 1999 side-impact standards for trucks. Why didn't engineers just but the stronger beams in from the get-go, rather than wait a couple of years? Dodge had a chance to build the perfect compact pickup, and blew it.

Still, it's a nice piece of work. Base, Sport and SLT models are available. Regular cab 2WD models feature a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that provides 120 horsepower. Club Cab and 4WD models get a 3.9-liter V6 good for 175 horsepower and 225 foot-pounds of torque. Optional on all models is a 5.2-liter V8 engine that makes 230 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs. of torque at 3,200 rpm. Crammed into a regular cab shortbed with 2WD, the V8 transforms the Dakota into a storming sport truck.

Overall, the new Dakota is quite satisfying. However, we can't help but think some short-sighted thinking and cost-cutting went into the design because of the lack of several major safety and convenience features. Makes us wonder about the integrity of the stuff that isn't quite so obvious.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Dodge Dakota.

Reliable
MW Maker, 8/2/2008
I bought the Dakota new back in 1997. I now have almost 150k miles with nothing but standard maintenance required. I have had a problem with the speakers since I bought it and the dealership could never figure it out. Other than this one issue the truck has served me well over the past decade.
Terrible
Rp, 1/3/2009
Bought it with 90k miles. Within two months it needed a new motor and a new transmission. It has numerous other defective parts since then - horn does not work, cruise control does not work, alarm is set off when unlocking the door with the key, a/c does not work, speakers broke, heat does not work on passenger side, air vents shut off at random. It has had numerous sets of brakes because it cannot stop well at all. Design flaws - any owner will tell you they have replaced all the tie rods and ball joints at least once, if you have a V8 model say good bye to good fuel economy (11 mpg highway at 65mph), terrible interior with no back doors, 4WD with no locking differential?
Best truck I could buy
curt, 9/25/2006
I wanted to get a little truck hoping for good gas mileage, and when I found my Dakota SLT 4x4 with the 5.2 V8 I fell in love. Since I got this truck all I have had done was put dual flowmaster exhaust on it which increase my fuel mileage 3 miles. I love the horsepower it has, and I feel this is the best looking Dakota model out there, and my friends agree.
My Pig
cordulidae, 4/2/2008
I name all of the vehicles I drive, and this one is appropriately named. I love this truck and hope to pass it on to my favored heir one day. :) It is fun to drive, full of torque, fast, has trailered everything I own several times over w/out complaint, and looks better than the current Dakota's. The few bad things I have had with Pig include Batteries, I put my 4th battery in this weekend, the gas mileage (avg. 14 mpg), but it is a 5.2 V-8. Oh, and when they built her, someone put an engine bearing in wrong or forgot to. Regardless, engine was rebuilt at 3,000 miles (under warranty). But, it hasn't stalled, hiccuped, or let me down since.
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Features & Specs

MPG
15 city / 20 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
175 hp @ 4800 rpm
MPG
14 city / 17 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
175 hp @ 4800 rpm
MPG
14 city / 17 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
175 hp @ 4800 rpm
MPG
15 city / 20 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
175 hp @ 4800 rpm
See all Used 1997 Dodge Dakota Extended Cab features & specs

Safety

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
    Poor

More about the 1997 Dodge Dakota
Used 1997 Dodge Dakota Extended Cab Overview

The Used 1997 Dodge Dakota Extended Cab is offered in the following styles: SLT 2dr Extended Cab SB, Sport 2dr Extended Cab SB, 2dr Extended Cab SB, 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB, Sport 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB, and SLT 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB.

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