I have been a loyal Chrysler owner for a long time. My first car was a LeBaron, and I have always owned a Jeep of some sort. The Dakota just doesn’t inspire the sense of Connection to the vehicle that I have had with other Dodges in the past. Maybe I expect to much out of this inexpensive vehicle but…
The aesthetics of the vehicle are blocky like it was built out of legos, or the designer lost their french curve and only had a ruler.
The previous style had Ram Horn Curves on the front which made the vehicle look aerodynamic, even if it wasn’t.
The Dodge Dakota gets about 16 miles to the Gallon in my daily driving. The Engine / Transmission combination in the v6 automatic I drove bogged down on the drive up my mountain, as it struggled to pick the right gear.
That said the ride was really phenomenal for a pick up, especially in this class. The Dakota didn’t feel like "floaty” the way a Uhaul does, and didn’t feel Stiff like the Chevy’s in this size do. The ride was balanced, neither jarring, nor detached, you get a good sense of the road, with out having to have your teeth rattled.
Being a rear wheel drive pick up, you aren’t going to get amazing handling on the Calaveras drive, but the shorter bed, and larger cab, puts more weight on the back tires than a traditional pick up so even in the rain the Dakota handled the curves respectably.
The interior of the Dakota is the same as you would find in a RAM, Wrangler, or any number of Chrysler family of “Trucks”.
Nothing to write home about, but well laid out, easy to use, functional, and while city folk may prefer leather, the vinyl and metal dash cleans up much better and will last longer for those who are actually going to use this truck as a truck.