Ah, the Dodge Dakota. I think this truck singlehandedly brought about the “big small truck” market we’re dealing with nowadays.
But I love this truck, even if it’s irrational.
My mother came into ownership of a 1998 Dodge Dakota Sport, with the V6 and 4-speed auto. It was 2WD, and came with a truck cap. It was the first thing I ever drove. Late at night, in a grassy field, I learned how to work pedals, switch gears, and understand some very basic spatial reasoning. I never did get to drive it often, as the Legacy came into my family years later. However, I had so many memories with the truck. I was in the back bench seat for a trip to Washington D.C. I got to sit in the passenger seat for a trip to Cape Cod. It would have gone all the way to Tennessee had we not encountered an issue that scuttled that trip.
The few times I was able to drive it, I enjoyed it. Even with the V6 it never felt like it was a slouch. The brakes were surprisingly good for being a pickup, and the transmission felt reasonably competent about down/up-shifting. With careful driving, 23mpg was not out of the question, and even in the dead of winter, she’d only fall to 18mpg.
That truck was eventually killed because the oil pump crapped out at 65mph on the interstate while passing someone. A bearing spun, and that was all she wrote. She was capable of limping home and around the yard, but that V6 was dead, and the Maine winters were starting to show.
For 18 years, that truck was all but bulletproof.
I want to get one.