1998 Dodge Dakota Review


Pros & Cons

  • Dual airbags, tight turning circle, Ram styling, roomy cab, optional V-8 engine, optional ABS
  • No third door option
List Price Estimate
$919 - $1,942

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

1998 Highlights

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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Dodge Dakota.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Will Be Tough to Replace
I bought my truck with 40k miles on it in 2002 and it is still running like a champ. I replaced the transmission after 150k miles, but that is the only major issue I've had with it. I'm now at 235k miles on my truck and am having a hard time finding a new vehicle because I don't think I will ever get this type of value again. Mileage is between 15.5 and 18 mph, depending on how I drive. I have the 5.2L V8 (318) and couldn't be happier. Change the oil, tires, and other basic maintenance and you'll have no issues. Also, I've found through test-driving countless newer vehicles (cars and trucks), that most do not have as smooth of a ride as my truck does.
Excellent truck
I bought this truck in 1998 with 14,000 miles on it. It now has 234,888 with the same engine and transmission. I took care of the truck by having the oil and transmissions fuel changed. This was the life of the truck. It has never left me on the road nor given me any problems.
Overall Decent Car
SLT 2dr Extended Cab SB
Owned my pickup since 2009. Overall pleased, enough to keep it anyway. It will go a few years without needing any major repairs, and then several things will need work in short order. I've replaced fuel pump, exhaust system, distributor cap and associated parts, window wash pump, and brakes twice. So not bad, but then I have a load of small problems: check engine light's been on since 2010 (I was told it's due to a minor transmission issue that might cost a lot to fix with minor payoff), the ABS and emergency brake lights come on when I take a highway ramp (but no effect on driving or braking), the ceiling lining started to come loose two years ago, rust is bubbling the paint over the left rear wheel well (seems to be common for this model year), and most annoying of all, the springs supporting the driver's seat broke loose of their moorings which causes the seat to sag and the metal frame parts to poke me uncomfortably. And there doesn't seem to be an easy way to repair the seat and it's attached to the passenger seat & center console which will make replacement a major hassle. On the other hand, I think it handles great, the brakes do not disappoint, the engine is fairly quiet and smooth, and I've driven it on several road-trips from 3,000 to 5,000 miles at a time without complaint. It has a light rear end, which can be a danger in rain or snow. I've found that tires with good traction will overcome handling problems in the rain, but if you live where it snows much, I would recommend 4WD. Basically, if you need a no-frills reliable vehicle and don't mind minor problems that crop up but won't interfere with driving function, you will likely find this truck to be acceptable. Update, 2017: I still have the truck. Never got the front seat fixed or replaced. No major repairs done, but the power steering pump has a leak and needs to be replaced. Rack & pinion and a few other items need to be repaired for long term function, but still runs on a day to day basis. Used in several residential moves during the last year.
Love my truck but mileage stinks
Broken Hearted,07/02/2009
To start with I love my truck but milage stinks. I only get 10 to 12 miles to the gallon not 15 like it say in this review. In the last four years that I have owned this truck I have put three raditators, a water pump, new heater and thermisate. Also problems with transmission locking up in reverse. But I still love my truck and still feel it is worth more than the retail value they are listing for it.

Features & Specs

See all Used 1998 Dodge Dakota features & specs


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 1998 Dodge Dakota

Used 1998 Dodge Dakota Overview

The Used 1998 Dodge Dakota is offered in the following submodels: Dakota Regular Cab, Dakota Extended Cab. Available styles include SLT 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), Sport 2dr Extended Cab SB (2.5L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.5L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), Sport 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.5L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), Sport 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), R/T Sport 2dr Regular Cab SB (5.9L 8cyl naturally aspired 4A), Sport 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), Sport 2dr Regular Cab LB (2.5L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), R/T Sport 2dr Extended Cab SB (5.9L 8cyl naturally aspired 4A), SLT 2dr Regular Cab LB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Extended Cab SB (2.5L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Extended Cab SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Regular Cab LB (2.5L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), and SLT 2dr Regular Cab SB (3.9L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M).

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Which used 1998 Dodge Dakotas are available in my area?

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Find a used Dodge Dakota for sale - 9 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $22,247.

Find a used Dodge for sale - 9 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $11,811.

Find a used certified pre-owned Dodge Dakota for sale - 3 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $20,462.

Find a used certified pre-owned Dodge for sale - 11 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $15,644.

Should I lease or buy a 1998 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