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1998 Dodge Dakota

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1998 Dodge Dakota Review

One of the best-looking and best-performing compact trucks on the market.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 1998 Dodge Dakota classifies as a midsize pickup truck manufactured by Chrysler. The first generation of the truck debuted in 1987, when Chrysler first decided to combine the agility of a compact pickup with the cargo-handling capacity of a full-size pickup.

The second generation of the Dodge Dakota began in 1997, when it had the styling of the semi-truck-like Dodge Ram, but retained a lot of the classic Dakota underpinnings.

The Range

Body Styles: two-door pickup, four-door pickup
Engines: 3.9-liter V-6, 5.2-liter V-8, 2.5-liter I-4, 5.9-liter V-8
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Dodge Dakota, Dodge Dakota Sport, Dodge Dakota SLT, Dodge Dakota R/T Sport

What's New

The 1998 Dodge Dakota comes in a new model: the performance-oriented R/T with a 5.9-liter V-8 engine. This new model also gets a revised sport suspension and 17-inch tires. The passenger-side airbag has a deactivation switch, which means that a rear-facing child safety seat can be used inside the truck. Three new exterior colors also join the lineup this year.


The Dakota uses certain styling cues from the innovative Dodge Ram pickup truck. As a result, the Dakota too has a radical exterior design as compared to other midsize pickups. It sits on a wheelbase of about 112 inches and has an overall length of 195.8 inches. The extended cab version of the 1998 Dodge Dakota reaches a total length of 215 inches.


The Dakota features a roomy interior as compared to its rivals, and the front seats offer ample legroom and headroom for the passenger and driver. However, the rear seat in the extended-base version of the pickup does not offer enough legroom for all adults to sit comfortably.

Entry and exit to and from the rear seat proves difficult in the two-door version of the 1998 Dodge Dakota. The four-door Dakota, with its two extra rear doors that look smaller than the front doors and open only when the front doors open, make entry and exit easier even though they have their share of problems. The four-door version of the 1998 Dakota also offers slightly more space in its rear seat, although tall occupants still find themselves crammed uncomfortably due to the lack of adequate legroom.

Even though the dashboard of the 1998 Dodge Dakota has a flimsy look because of all the cheap plastics, it maintains a modern appearance with well-laid-out controls. The inside door panels also use some cheap plastics, but despite complaints, the overall quality of the Dakota’s interior remains the same as that of rival pickups, if not better.

Performance & Handling

The Dakota offers a choice of four engines. The 2.5-liter, straight-four engine delivers 120 horsepower. The 3.9-liter V-6 delivers 175 horsepower, and the last two options are V-8 engines. A 5.2-liter V-8 delivers 230 horsepower, while the 5.9-liter V-8 delivers 245 horsepower.

The stiff frame of the 1998 Dodge Dakota translates into good ride quality as the suspension feels stable and comfortable with little bouncing or rough roads. However, this four-wheel-drive model experiences a little bit of bouncing and bobbing.

The V-8 engines options perform best in the Dakota’s powertrain. The base four-cylinder engine seems severely underpowered for a pickup truck like the Dakota, and the V-6 engine offers a sensible balance between the power of the V-8s and the fuel economy of the straight-four engine.


The 1998 Dodge Dakota receives four-star ratings for driver and passenger safety during frontal-impact tests conducted by the NHTSA.

EPA Fuel Economy

Dodge Dakota 5.9-liter V-8, automatic: 12/16 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Powerful V-8 engines
  • Quiet ride
  • Dodge Ram styling
  • Roomy cabin

You Won't Like

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Poor performance of the I-4

Sum Up

One of the best-looking and best-performing compact trucks on the market.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Ford Ranger
  • Chevrolet S-10
  • GMC Sonoma

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