Relatively easy driveway fixes:
Driver's seat back wouldn't recline -- repaired by replacing missing bolt.
Headlights/dash lights flickering -- replaced with a used clock timing module from eBay.
Wouldn't switch into 4wd -- replaced 4wd module under the dash with one from eBay.
Noisy front drive shaft in 4wd -- Replaced worn CV joint on shaft with a kit unit from eBay.
Driver's side ball joint -- replaced in my driveway. Make sure you have snap ring pliers!
Original muffler basically disintegrated one day. Made the truck sound mean! Replaced with a Walker Sound F/X muffler from Autozone for $57.00 and sounds factory again.
Replaced original clutch at 177,000 -- replaced with a heavy duty Luk clutch from Amazon. Parts and labor was approx. $750. This was the only repair I couldn't do in my driveway. Although I'm sure I could've if I got ambitious enough.
An extended cab Dakota with a 4.7L V8 and a 5 speed has been my dream truck for several years. I finally came across a used 2002 for sale on Craigslist for $2500. Although the truck ran & drove well, it had a bunch of little things wrong from not being properly maintained for about 5 years (at least the seller was honest).
I knew these were repairs I could do on my own, in the driveway. The ball joint was probably the toughest, but that's only because I didn't have the right size snap ring pliers.
The 4.7L has 230 HP & pulls hard from about 2500 RPM right up to its 6k redline. It's different from the old 5.2L 318ci, which made its power/torque lower in the RPM range, but fell flat on its face above 4500 RPM. Both are excellent motors, but the 5.2L has way more mods available, if that's what you want.
Because of the higher torque curve, the only thing that I'd really recommend for this truck is a set of 4.10 gears. I think it comes stock with 3.55s, but 4.10 will put it right in its sweet spot for daily driving. And I've heard you only lose 1-2 MPG.
As it sits, which is stock, I average 14-16.5 MPG with about 80% highway. Bear in mind, that I take the truck up to 105-110 mph at least once almost everyday. My average speed is probably around 80 mph. Considering my heavy lead foot, the MPG isn't that bad. I had the exact same truck with a 3.9 5 speed, which had a lot less power & still only got 16-17 MPG.
Since replacing the clutch, the truck will incinerate the tires in 1st, bark 'em hard in 2nd, and chirp 3rd if I bang it hard. And that's with the big 265/70/R16 wheels/tires.
As for comfort, well I think the extended cab is the best compromise between the standard & the quad cab. The rear seat is an actual bench seat that can fit 2 people rather uncomfortably, but it fits 2 car seats perfectly and my kids love it back there! The rides not harsh, but it's not Cadillac comfortable... come on, it's a pick up truck!
The only other problem I didn't mention in the previous section, is the ticking from the hydraulic lash adjusters (a fancy lifter). This is a common problem with most 4.7s. My ticking is coming from the passenger side cylinder bank near the oil fill tube. These motors are prone to sludge and I guess that's was causes the problem with the hydraulic lifters. I've tried a couple engine sludge treatments, but that hasn't seemed to help much. It will probably require a mechanical repair at some point, but I've been driving it like this for over 20k miles. and it hasn't gotten any worse or affected drive-ability in any way I can detect.
BOTTOM LINE: If you can find a well maintained Dak V8 with a 5 speed, go for it! If you find a neglected one & don't mind turning a few wrenches, it will totally pay you back in SMILES TO THE MILE!