Mine is the basic model with the standard cab, rubber floorboards, and manual transmission - and it is awesome. What a novel thing these days to have something that is so well built. It's old school, so it has a firm ride and no frills. But it always works. The beauty is in it's simplicity. That said, it's difficult to shift smoothly (I'd get the automatic), the gas mileage is poor, and it's pretty big for maneuvering around town. Along with the firm ride, those characteristics make it a bit rough as a daily driver. It's more of a perfect second or spare vehicle. The 6-cylinder's acceleration is adequate (with the manual transmission anyway), but I'd get the V-8, as there doesn't seem to be much of a trade off. At 94K, mine has needed an oxygen sensor replacement (pricey), and a timing belt service, though the latter is part of routine maintenance. If you read up on these trucks you can pretty much drive them until the wheels fall off, and the values hold up very well. UPDATE 11/29/16: Dead-on reliable. Storing things behind the seat is a bit annoying, as items like clothing can easily get caught on the lever you use to tilt the seat forward. A little loud and uncomfortable on trips longer than an hour or two. Still love the truck, but if I had it to do over again I'd get the V8 and the automatic transmission. Shifting in this gets old pretty quickly. UPDATE 5/29/17: 107K. Rock solid.
I was dissapointed to find that Dodge no longer made a long bed Dakota. My dissapointment turned to excitement when I test drove the Tundra. Although it is larger than my Dakota, I found it much easier to handle. It engine was smaller 3.3 vs. 3.9, but it seemed to have more power. I anticipate keeping my Tundra for at least 10 years as I did my Dakota, and look forward to a long happy ownership. Now I won't have to worry abut the transmission because I know Toyota makes a good transmission. Dodge hasn't figured it out yet. My only dissapointment was the height which caused me to add runningboards. A minor item for such a great truck.
I have a 2001; it's done everything I asked, including pulling a travel trailer over the highest passes in Colorado. But the engine performance is still marginal, and gas mileage is hard to tolerate (16-18mpg). All in all, though, I'll most likely look at a new Tundra when the time comes for another truck. I don't believe the American manufacturers can match the overall quality and reliability of Toyota.