Used Vehicle Review: 1997 2000 Dodge Dakota  used car reviews trucks dodge
1997 Dodge Dakota 4X4 Sport
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Bigger than a compact pickup, but not quite a full-size pickup, the Dodge Dakota established a new class, the mid-sized pickup, when it first appeared in 1987. Following in the footsteps of the full-sized Ram pickup, the ’97 Dakota was completely redesigned in the curvaceous “trucks with style” culture that was, and still is, rampant at Dodge.

Three Magnum series engines, a 2.5 litre four-cylinder, 3.9 litre six-cylinder (standard on 4×4 models) and a 5.2-litre eight-cylinder provide the power. Power that’s capable of pulling a 3084-Kg (6800-lb) trailer or handling a 1179-kg (2600-lb) payload, when properly equipped. And fuel consumption for a 4×4 with the V6 engine is an okay 15.9 l/100 km in the city and 11.9 l/100 km on the highway.

The ’97 Dakota came in Base, Sport and SLT trim levels and in two- or four-wheel-drive versions. There was also a choice of regular cab, with a long or short cargo box, and “Club” cab, an extended passenger cab.

Beneath the Dakota’s muscular truck exterior is a surprisingly comfortable and well appointed interior. A 40/20/40 split front seat is standard on the club cab version and it comes with a folding centre armrest that opens up to reveal a large storage bin. A good sized forward facing rear bench, in the extended cab version, allows seating for up to six.

Used Vehicle Review: 1997 2000 Dodge Dakota  used car reviews trucks dodge
1997 Dodge Daklota Club Cab 4X4

Used Vehicle Review: 1997 2000 Dodge Dakota  used car reviews trucks dodge
1997 Dodge Dakota interior

Used Vehicle Review: 1997 2000 Dodge Dakota  used car reviews trucks dodge
1999 Dodge Dakota R/T

Used Vehicle Review: 1997 2000 Dodge Dakota  used car reviews trucks dodge
2000 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4×4
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Safety features include energy absorbing steel beams in the doors, dual air bags (with a passenger side lock-out switch), adjustable front seat shoulder belts and a rear wheel anti-lock braking system is standard (a four-wheel system is optional).

Safety ratings appear to be contradictory, although Dakota survived the US government frontal impact tests with flying colours and gets good “real-world/on-the-road” IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) ratings for occupant protection, it was less than impressive in an off-set impact test performed by the IIHS.

A high-performance R/T version of Dakota came in the Spring of ’98. It has a 250-horsepower 5.9-litre Magnum V8 engine, a sport-tuned suspension and lots of additional sporty stuff. We have to move ahead to the year-2000 for the next big change when Dakota could also be ordered as a “Quad” cab, with four front-hinged doors. The long (8-ft) cargo box was also dropped and a new 4.7-litre V8 replaced the 5.2-litre engine.

Typical repair items include catalytic converters that rot internally and start to rattle (usually covered under 5-year emissions warranty) and front suspension ball joints. The upper ball joints on the 4×2 versions tend to wear-out much faster than most.

Overall the Dodge Dakota is a pretty good, and a good-looking, truck. Used prices are reasonable and it can do almost everything a full-sized truck can, in a trimmer and more manoeuvrable package.


Current Red Book Pricing (average retail) February 2002: Dodge Dakota

Year Model Price today Price new
2000 Club Cab 4X4 $20,125 $25,825
1999 Club Cab 4X4 $15,500 $25,235
1998 Club Cab 4X4 $14,425 $24,430
1997 Club Cab 4X4 $11,600 $24,080

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

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