This is one of three Dakota quadcabs in my family (one son owns 2) --all have been good and we like them a lot. I suggest anyone considering one skip the v-6; mileage is almost the same as the v-8 and the v-8 has a lot more power. Dependability has been good on all with the exception of the aforementioned steering rack.
I think this year of the Dakota (and all from 1997-2004) is a very good looking vehicle. I love the color (Deep Molten Red), which is not too common. Get lots of positive comments about the looks of the truck.
Driving position & visibility
Wish mine had power driver seat. I'm short, and would like to be able to raise the seat height a bit. My truck is an SLT Plus, and is nicely equipped for the model year, yet it has a manual seat adjustment. Seems like a they cheaped out here.
Rear seat room & comfort
Rear seats are comfortable, with pretty decent legroom for a small truck.
4.7 v-8 is plenty strong. I've hauled 1500 lbs in the bed, and there's no problem handling that. Acceleration is very snappy when unloaded.
Gas mileage is not too great. Essentially, it is no better than many larger trucks. Long trip highway mileage averages 19.5 mpg, but in-town driving really pulls it down. My driving is 75% highway, but just that 25% town driving pulls the mileage down to about 17.
Interior storage compartments
Front seat cupholders are almost on the floor, very inconvenient, even dangerous because driver has to duck down to use them.
Not as quiet as a sedan, but not bad. Wind noise is somewhat high driving into a headwind. Road noise is moderate, but doesn't come up to the standards of a Silverado or Ram. Exhaust noise with stock exhaust is audible but not annoying.
Rides well for a small truck. You can tell it's a truck, but it is not punishing.
I find the quad cab (short 5'3" bed) is adequate for me. Naturally, whether it is for anyone else is dependent on their particular use of a truck.
Don't know how towing will be; haven't used it for that. I am planning to get a small travel trailer (2500 lb), and the tow rating is way above that, so I don't expect any problems.
Reliability & durability
Now at 53,000 miles. The steering rack went at 27K, but was fixed under warranty. Other than that, have had zero problems. I change oil at about 4000 mi intervals, and none is used in that time.
If the size and bed capacity fit your needs, get one. Nice driving vehicle with a lot of practicality for lots of folks. Only downside is fuel mileage.