Used 1998 Dodge Dakota Extended Cab Review




what's new

The Dakota R/T, featuring a 250-horsepower V8, is available for those seeking a performance pickup. The passenger airbag can now be deactivated in all 1998 Dodge Dakotas, so a rear-facing child seat can be used. The Dakota is also available in three new colors.

vehicle overview

The Dakota was completely redesigned inside and out in 1997, so this year the changes are kept to a minimum. A passenger airbag cutoff switch makes the Dakota available to those with small children and a new R/T edition makes its way into the lineup, which is bound to spark interest from enthusiasts. The R/T gets a 5.9-liter Magnum V8 with 250 horsepower and 335 foot-pounds of torque, sport bucket seats, a sport-tuned suspension, new wheels, and various R/T decals. And it will no doubt be a blast to drive.

Inside the Dakota, user-friendly controls and displays pass the same work-glove ease-of-operation test that the bigger Dodge 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.

The Club Cab offers no third door option: Seems odd from the company that pioneered the fourth sliding door on minivans and has a Quad Cab full-size Ram for 1998. To get this convenience, you've got to buy a Chevy S-10, Ford Ranger, GMC Sonoma or Mazda B-Series. 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 put the stronger beams in from the get-go, rather than wait a couple of years? Dodge had the chance to build the perfect compact pickup, and we'll have to wait to see if they ever decide to add more doors.

Still, it's a nice piece of work. Base, Sport, SLT and R/T 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 (except R/T) is a 5.2-liter V8 engine that makes 230 horsepower and 300 foot-pounds 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 Dakota is quite a truck. Want the best-looking, best-performing compact pickup on the market? Look no further.






edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.