The front suspension on 4WD Dakotas and Durangos is a torsion-bar-sprung A-arm setup that is nothing to get excited about. With our IFS lift kit, we get around 8 inches of travel and are grateful for even that much from the factory.
Though they're not as common to modify as a Chevy or Ford V-8, you can really get a lot of power and torque from the Magnum V-8 engines. Superchargers are available, and we've even found a turbocharger kit for these engines online, but we've built these engines before in the past and have made good power improvements with improved exhausts and an ECU tuner.
If you're looking for something a bit different, then you could always try a Dodge Dakota 60hp shot nitrous kit from NOS. We recently put juice on our Durango and really had some fun climbing sand dunes with it.
Unfortunately Dodge made it a bit tricky for the aftermarket when it changed things underneath a bit in 2000. A new rack-and-pinion steering and differential required lift-kit redesigns, and some companies that already had kits out for the '97-'99 chose not to address the '00-'03. Off the top of our heads, we'll tell you that Tuff Country has a kit for the '97-'99s, and Rancho has a kit for the '00-'03s. Unfortunately no one to our knowledge makes a long-travel kit for the 2wd/4wd Dakota/Durango platform, so anything you want beyond a standard IFS kit is going to be custom.
Like with any IFS truck, you can always swap in a solid axle. This particular pictured Dakota had a solid-axle swap built by WFO Concepts, but it was definitely more costly than just bolting on some IFS lift. With full coilovers, a four-link, and solid axle, this Dakota was more than ready for some hard-core trail use.
If you are going to use your Dakota or Durango mostly on the trail, then it might be a good idea to swap in a solid axle. You cannot beat a solid axle for rockcrawling or other slow-going off-roading, and this might be just the ticket you need to talk yourself into a Dakota or Durango.
If you are going to be spending most days in your Dakota/Durango on the freeways or in the desert, then you can probably benefit most from leaving your truck IFS. We've seen pretty insane 2wd long-travel suspension builds on some Dakotas, and now we think we're going to have to try our hand at building up a 4wd long-travel Durango suspension. Otherwise our Durango won't survive to see 2010.