I bought this truck new in 2002 and have loved it all the while. Only had to replace an o2 sensor. My previous truck was an Isuzu and the Dakota is a million times better. I haul welders, tools and a trailer, so it gets used. I expect to get another 8 years out of it. I get about 13 mpg with tools in and about 17 mpg empty. I put an extra leaf spring in it to help haul the weight which was a great idea.
I purchased this truck new, and have done the maintenance. (4.7 V8, automatic) It's the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned. 148,000 miles and counting. Cost per mile for maintenance and repairs is only $0.025. 19.6 MPG since the day I bought it(I have a soft tonneau on it). It still looks good and has no squeaks or rattles. I'm very happy with this truck.
Best truck I have owned yet. Went looking for a new one this summer and was not happy. They have nothing like this out there. Ford and Chevy gave up making Rangers and S-10's. Toyota has a smaller interior. This truck has been excellent in upper Michigan. In snow and off road it handles like a champ. Never had any major issues yet and has been a joy to drive. I plan on keeping it for another 80K. Why spend money on the new junk! The 4.7l V8 really goes and has tons of power that can tow a 24 ft trailer with no problem.
this is the best truck you can buy!!!! i have 33 in super swampers on mine and it will climb thing up side down (figuritavily speeking)!! Im so happy i got my dodge; now im no affraid to drive in the rain, sleet, smow, wind, or hail. i have no worries! I have used my truck for every thing from pulling out a couple F-350's and some Chevy's here and there. but i also go offroading (mostly mud bogging and rockclimbing)and hunting with it. it has never been suck and it had been to the doors in mud (3 feet about)all i need now is some air lockers for the rock climbing!! and there comeing!
Bought new in '02. Love the looks of this model year and still get compliments on it. Great versatility for hauling cargo and misc. stuff in the bed and comfortable enough to fit four adults or family in the cab. It's been a reliable vehicle, but one thing I'd do over is opt for the larger engine. Same or better mileage with the V8 and better performance. Still a wonderful truck!