By on December 5, 2012

While the GM inventory woes have been a fixture of TTAC for months, excess inventory isn’t the sole domain of GM’s pickups. Chrysler is having its own issues, with the Dodge Dart suffering from a glut of inventory.

Ward’s Auto reports that there is a 112 day supply of Darts, roughly double the industry’s preferred supply level. While Chrysler’s Illinois plant is cited as a factor in the oversupply of these cars, the launch of the Dart didn’t go as smoothly as planned. Initial sales were poor, hampered by an oversupply of manual transmission cars (yes, heresy, I know).

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

75 Comments on “Dodge Has Its Own Inventory Problems...”


  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Stupid marketing geniuses at Dodge sent out a bunch of manuals initially and I guess no one told them that the manual is a dying breed specially among that class of car, so no hardly anyone even bothered to test drive it, I found this out from a couple of local dealers I know, they were astonished by this. Besides no one wants to buy this POS. I have only seen a couple in the street and most likely they were rentals.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      You can sell manuals but only to certain buyers (in my area anyway).

      Buyer 1: Poverty spec buyer that for some reason HAS TO HAVE A NEW CAR no matter how poor they are. Those buyers will buy a manual to save a few bucks. There are plenty of manual trans Neons, PT Cruisers, Cobalts, Corollas, and Focuses around my area.

      Buyer 2: Performance buyer but that buyer is waiting for the even more powerful turbo version to come out.

      So that was a misstep at launch. My local dealer has a nice row of them on the front of the lot that aren’t moving. Meanwhile they’re selling a TON Of Patriots (sadly all poverty spec 4×2 models.) I say sadly because I cry every time I see a 2wd Jeep. A 2wd Jeep makes as much sense to me as a V6 Corvette.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        PrincipalDan:

        You forgot Buyer 3: TTAC commenters who rave on and on about cars with manual transmissions, so why aren’t they buying them? Maybe perhaps if they were diesel wagons?

        BTW, I saw my very first Dart last week on my way home – a bright blue one. Didn’t look too bad as it zipped by me!

      • 0 avatar
        Wacko

        I hear you on the 4×2 jeeps
        You can not put the jeep name on a 2wd car.

        Stupid mistake.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Buyer #3 knows exactly what new car buyers ought to be buying, but leaves out that he himself isn’t going to buy one until someone else has “well taken care of” and “lightly used” the first three or four years’ depreciation.

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        Dan, I’d add a caveat to “buyer one”, if you’re just looking for reasonable long term transportation options the cars in this size class bought new and kept for the long term are probably the best vehicle value you can buy with current inflated used car prices and difference in incentives.

        …and the automatic option is usually 1k plus, which is a pretty good chunk of change % wise to the total vehicle.

        So some % of this buyer is just people that don’t like to spend more than they have to on transportation, not that they couldn’t afford more. (Like my dad)

      • 0 avatar
        GoesLikeStink

        I almost bought a new 2008 Wrangler unlimited Manual, 2X4 in Yellow. Got them down to $15,200 because it was dealer poison (and Chrysler was on the edge of bankruptsy) I had my own finincial crissis at the same time so I did not do it, but I really wanted a 4 door convertible, and that is the only way to do it nowadays.

      • 0 avatar
        solracer

        I’d add another option, Miata buyers. Unlike other vehicles with an automatic transmission option the take rate on manual transmissions on the Miata is something like 95%. I know around my Miata club if you have an automatic the other members ask what sort of left leg injury you have.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It was a supply issue, not a marketing decision.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      I really think they may have botched the intro on the Dart. They should have waited until the automatics were more widely available. Only something like 6% of total cars sales are manual transmission models. They lost a LOT of early momentum by having only manual transmission versions available at launch. That means 94% of the buying public wouldn’t/couldn’t even test drive one. The Dart is also a little pricey. Just adding the 1.4 turbo and dual clutch automatic adds $2,400, and apparently it’s not even worth the extra money. I don’t think all the color/trim combos are out yet either. I’m just now seeing the light beige cloth/leather seating at the dealers, and despite offering 12 exterior colors, I have really only seen black, white, red, bright blue, dark blue and the two silver greys on the lots. On the bright side, they announced that the Dart has the highest MSRP at $22,000 of any car in it’s class. The Fiat 500 was originally quite a flop, but they seem to have turned that around, so I think Chrysler will make the Dart successful with a little bit of tweaking (and maybe some cheap leases too).

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      As a marketing professional, I would be shocked if marketing dictated to manufacturing the products that were shipped out into the distribution channel. I have never, ever, worked in a marketing department with that much power.

      In the C-segment certain cars like the Chevy Cruze Eco have very high manual adoption – 55% of Cruze Ecos are row your own gears.

      Product Management or Go-To-Market would decided what’s going into the channel. Marketing’s job is to sell it. Oh boy, to have the power to say build this – not that. I could have stopped a couple of product train wrecks if I was in a marketing department with the power to go, “no, ship this, not that.”

  • avatar
    mike978

    There were obviously expecting soemthing like 10K sales a month. Not huge given the Civic, Corolla, Cruze and Focus all sell 1.5-2.5 times that. 10K is Mazda 3 levels. But so far this year the Dart has not sold above 5500 a month (October). Reviews have been mixed so I think they will miss their internal targets and will have to adjust production accordingly.

    • 0 avatar
      Easton

      A coupe or hatchback alternative would help. I’m sure Mazda and Ford would be nowhere close to their numbers without the hotselling hatchbacks. (N.B. I live in Canada where, by my estimation, compact hatchbacks vastly outsell sedans. I have no idea what the situation is in the U.S.)

      • 0 avatar
        klossfam

        Hatchbacks are FINALLY starting to be the desired small car in the States (once again as they were in the past). I see what you are saying ‘in person’ living on the border (Buffalo area). Canadians are more likely to go hatchback as an option to a small SUV/CUV. Most hatches, like a VW Golf, have within 10 to 15 cu ft of cargo space vs small SUV/CUVs with superior driving dynamics and mileage (minus AWD of course unless you get an A3 Quattro – but Canadians KNOW the real benefits of winter tires). Us Yanks are starting to ‘smarten up’ (when it comes to cars at least)…Now ALL of North America just needs MORE diesel options!

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Maybe, but the Focus is from last reports I saw 50:50 which means it is still selling 9-10K a month as a sedan. Cruze, Corolla and Jetta re only sedans. Civic is predominately sedan, with a low % of coupe sales. But I agree other body styles might help.

        It is good to see hatchbacks getting more popular, with Cruze due out next year to add to Mazda, Ford and VW.

      • 0 avatar
        Easton

        I didn’t realize the Cruze and Corolla were doing that well. In my small little town I don’t really see that many of either.

      • 0 avatar
        mjz

        The hatchback off this platform is going to be the new Chrysler 100.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Last numbers I remember seeing had the Focus 5-door at ~45% of sales. From non-scientific observation, I would guess ~35-40% of Mazda3s are 5-doors.

        It’s a tough question of whether those numbers are satisfying the demand, or if they create their own demand by simply being on the market. I’m sure it’s a bit of both. I have no intnetion of ever buying a compact unless it has the 5th door. I’ve known several people who never even thought of the 5-door configuration until trying it, and ended up loving it. Folks who have been shopping Cruzes, Civics, & other non-hatch compacts would likely buy sedans without even thinking, but they may buy the 5-door if it was offered.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Sigh. Rosy headlines on sales & economic activity all around…

    Once again, GM, Ford and EVEN Chrysler are building them faster than prudent, pressuring dealers to take more than they want to, and setting up more future problems (maybe crises?).

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      It’s not building faster than prudent. It’s building crap faster than prudent.

      20,000 cheap compacts isn’t many. If they were Civics instead of Fiats they’d be gone in 3 weeks.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I don`t know if you can say poor sales is due to crap. Plenty of people write of the Civic and Jetta yet they sell and objectively the Corolla is behind the times but sells. It is tough to make it in a crowded market place. The current Mazda 6 is a great example, a good entry but completely overshadowed by 5-10 other cars in the same class.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        mike, I’d argue that the biggest % in sales YoY and the current volume sellers are the cars that have been “decontented” to be relatively inexpensive or that were lower priced vehicles to begin with.

        Small (or at least smaller), less expensive and fuel efficient is the trend driving sales in the New Normal.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      That may be true to a certain extent, but not all encompassing.

      A fellow retired AF buddy of mine recently set out to buy a second Grand Cherokee to replace one of the oldest cars in his driveway and found that even though the GC is plentiful in stock at all dealers, the dealers are just not willing to deal ($500 off if you’re a Vet, $1500 off if you buy a 5.7 V8 in the Laredo or Limited trim, for a total of $2000 off)

      This is especially atrocious since the 2014 models will start production in January 2013 and hit the lot in May 2013. You know, once those 2014 GCs hit the lots, the 2013s are going to have as much appeal as an unsold 2012 or 2011 model. And,yes, there still are some unsold 2012 and 2011 models.

      Ditto with this new Dart. When people get up close to one, they may find that it is not quite as Fiatsler likes to portray it. If you want a nice one with all the bells and whistles, it can cost you dearly.

      OTOH, there’s the Elantra which truly gives a buyer a lot of bang for the buck in that segment. And the trustworthy but bland Corolla. No one has ever gone wrong buying a Civic in spite of the less than enthusiastic reviews on the current models.

      For the truly economically strapped there are the entires from Kia and Nissan which provide reasonable transportation for not too much money.

      In this segment, Ford is in a category all its own, and IMO would be a better deal than the new Dodge Dart, albeit at a steeper price.

      It won’t be long before Fiatsler puts the Dart on sale with loads of money on the hood. I believe that Fiatsler was a little too enamored with itself when they priced the Dart.

      It’s worth only marginally more than a Civic or Corolla, and it remains to be seen how well the new Dart holds up in the real-world environment. We don’t want to resurrect ghosts of the past just yet.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Price isn’t the issue of just about any car near where I live (with the exception of truly supply-constrained, highly sought after vehicles).

        Regardless of what the MSRP says, dealers are dealing big time. They’re even advertising blowout lease and purchase deals that they’re honoring.

        Speaking of the Grand Cherokee, we almost bought an X Package 70th Edition that had an MSRP of just over 37k for a true 31k (before taxes, but including destination) in March.

        But we decided to keep the 7 year old, like new, highly reliable vehicle it would have replaced, instead (smart move).

        I do not know if it’s a local thing, or if this is a national occurrence.

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        I don’t think its local, I don’t think its national, its the US and EU consumers (less the Germans who have a smug we could have told you so, but our damn banks are just as deep in it as everyone else) pulling back, the realization that a 401k retirement system is just as much of a ponzi scheme as any other and that they are on the wrong side of it and what the hell am I going to do, so when the time comes and its $40k for GJ or $20k for a fiesta, fiesta is winning, Mullaly called it right and its going to be a fundamental shift as an entire generation that was supposed to retire, get out of the workplace and spend realizes that the nice sprinkle they were feeling for so long was just piss.

        This is based on the majority of new fiestas and focuses I see are being driven by people in the late 40′s-50′s, peoples who’s equity/credit could get them into GC aren’t (I’m in my late 30′s and it’s going to be about a $5k good used whatever that decent connections can stumble back into comes along, to replace the I cant believe she just gave me a pampered car with 38k miles for $2k dies*).

        Back to JB’s how to save lincoln article, yes there is a way, but I wonder how long before the bottom 2&3% realizes that they were just tools of the game and pull back as well (Lexus-MB grouping) so is it worth it?

        *Be nice to your widowed old neighbors is the lesson from that (better if you mean it, but if you don’t it could still be helpful).

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        That’s darn good pricing in your area!

        When we bought my wife’s 2012 Overland Summit V6 in Nov 2011 outside Phoenix, AZ, it had a sticker of almost $48K on the window, but we got it for roughly $44K, or about 9% off MSRP.

        And all the crap the dealer put on, like the Simonize silicone paint protector and plastic quarter panel appliques to protect the paint against rock and gravel damage, was included. I didn’t want to pay extra for that sh!t.

        Then I turned around and ordered about $4K worth of accessories, like Grand Cherokee running boards/side steps, Jeep carry totes, hard and soft-sided luggage, a Grand Cherokee Class IV hitch and a set of three skid plates, from that dealer and had it all delivered to my residence in New Mexico.

        So they made a little money and I saved a little money and everyone was a happy camper. But my buddy wasn’t that lucky when he went looking to buy a 2013 GC, as an addition to the 2012 Laredo 4X4 V6 he already owns as his wife’s daily driver.

        He went online and the only place where he could get decent pricing was at Perkins in Colo Sprgs, CO, roughly 8 hours driving distance as the crow flies from where he lives. A long way to go and a short time to get there.

        He and I discussed me driving him up there (I volunteered since I knew the guy since 1967 when we were in Red Horse 555 together at Cam Ranh Bay AB) so he could buy another GC and drive it home to southern NM, but he decided he was too tuckered out from visiting dealerships in El Paso, TX, Las Cruces, NM, Albuquerque, NM, Artesia, NM, Silver City, NM, and Santa Fe, NM, that he is going to delay his purchase until May 2013 when the 2014 GC hits the lots. I bet Perkins is his number one stop if they keep up the pricing strategy.

        I think it is a local thing, though. In my area the Jeep dealers are not that generous with discounts. And if people get to be in their late sixties, like we (my buddy and I) are, the incentive to travel great distances to save a little money on a new vehicle becomes more of a chore than an incentive, yet we are not willing to pay the exorbitant prices that the locals want to sell their vehicles for. Kinda like, better to hold out than give in.

        The Dart was not priced right IMO when it entered the fray of head-to-head competition within that segment. What Fiatsler should have done is price them lower at first and then slowly crank up the pricing if it became a popular seller, like they did with the Grand Cherokee and 300s when they got in demand.

        My guess is that I won’t even be able to replace my wife’s GC for anywhere near $48K now, especially with all the extra gear I put on it, like the running boards/side steps, Class IV Hitch and skid plates.

        So buying a new car remains an opportunity to snag if a great deal presents itself. I don’t think any Dart is a good deal, without a hefty discount of at least $1k for the lowest trim and $2K for the highest trim.

        For rnc, not everyone wants to trade down to a lower class of vehicle. There are some constraints that apply to some and buying a GC vs a compact cannot always be resolved in favor of a smaller, cheaper vehicle.

        And don’t forget, the vast majority of older (>55) buyers do not finance, mostly because lenders have never been kind to old people when it comes to loans. This is too vast a topic for me to address here, but I have first hand experiences with real-life examples.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    The new Dodge Dart looks really great in its top trim level.

    But as a base or just-above-base model, it is bland and boring. I saw one on the highway and was thrilled with the back end, and disappointed by the front.

    A coupe model would go a long way towards fixing this issue. Is it just me, or is there a serious dearth of compact coupes these days?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The taillights are the best part. I came up one one at night on a state highway and even my wife commented on how sexy the rear was lit up at night. The only car that got a stronger reaction in the dark was a Mustang with “sequential” turn signals.

    • 0 avatar

      There is. The Elantra Coupe, Forte, Civic and…that’s it?

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        tC, and one could make a case for the FR-S and BRZ.

        Is the Elantra coupe actually out yet?

      • 0 avatar
        oldfatandrich

        And the C250 Coupe ? I am endlessly amused by people who purchase ginned up Hondas, Kias, Hyundais, Fords and Chevolets. They end up with $30,000 cars which depreciate like stones thrown off cliffs. If you lease–and that is a big if—AND you keep clear of the option sheet, a C250 lease will be a very manageable number. In addition to having a very handsome (and very driveable) car, you can sneer at your neighbors who will think that you’re absolutely brilliant by having shorted Apple.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I kinda like it but those in the low-brow ‘ginned up’ coupes will probably still have cars that run after the warranty period (assuming you don’t just lease again). The Mercedes may be the better proposition for the initial money, but is it the better long term buy for those who would rather buy?

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    This is actually quite a nice car. It’s probably wrong to compare it to the Civic, Corolla, etc because it’s actually bigger than all those cars. Whatever is ailing the Dart’s sales, it’s not anything $2500 on the hood wouldn’t fix.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The Dart is not sporty enough to be a first choice sports car, and it is not practical enough to be a first choice practical car. For the same amount of money that you would pay for a Dart, you can get a Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima or Nissan Altima that has more room, more power, better MPG and (likely) lower insurance rates. The Dart looks nice inside at the better trim levels, but the base trim level looks worse than the Chevrolet Cruze or the Ford Focus.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I was underwhelmed by the awful 1.4T – 6spd manual Dart I drove, and actually liked the 2.0 – 6 spd AT much better, even though it was a bit underpowered. That 1.4 is a weakling in normally-aspirated form in the Fiat 500 also.

    To my shock, not all ‘equal’ trim levels (SXT, for example) are equally equipped. I just happened to look for cruise control on my second test drive, only to find the car wasn’t so equipped. Other SXTs in the lot had it, though.

    The build quality was only mediocre, in my opinion. The headlight switch was loose in the dashboard, and the 2.0 engine vibrates a lot at idle.

    I really, really love the Dart’s looks, but not the upscale dashboard or the 1.4 T engine. I think the 2.4 will be the best engine, but it will cost more. This is one car I seriously considered but decided to pass on, and I suspect many buyers have the same experience. The competition is just a bit better for the money.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The decision to flood the market with manual-equipped models isn’t helping the Dart’s sales, but I wonder if a bigger problem is that Chrysler has been largely AWOL from this market segment since the death of the Neon. The Caliber made absolutely no impression on potential buyers, based on what I’ve seen.

    Chrysler is basically starting from scratch in this segment with a car that appears to lag behind competitors in key ways. I also haven’t seen that many ads for the car. That’s a huge handicap for any new car.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “I wonder if a bigger problem is that Chrysler has been largely AWOL from this market segment since the death of the Neon.”

      Yep. They should have called it a Neon, if only for the name recognition.

      It’s very difficult to launch a new nameplate, as considerable money, time and effort have to be devoted to educating consumers about what it is. I doubt that most people under 50 know what a Dart was, and not many of those who do know the legacy would make the connection between the previous vehicle and this one.

      There would be more consumers who would know what a Neon is supposed to be, which would make the marketing process a bit easier.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        The Dart name bears no relationship to sales.

        Neither the old Dart nor the Neon share a single component with the new Dart, so consumers aren’t supposed to ‘make a connection’ with those vehicles.

        Chrysler simply resurrected the popular and catchy Dart name that it owns, without attempting a retro theme or risking comparisons to an older model of car. Such comments have appeared in every Beetle review since 1998.

        Besides, my recollection of the Neon is less rosy; it received a lot of middling reviews in its lifetime.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “The Caliber made absolutely no impression on potential buyers”

      I disagree. It made the same impression as a blunt object being smacked upside the head. The Caliber turned a lot of people off of Chrysler products.

  • avatar
    Tom_M

    I remember fiat/Chrysler being off the mark with too few 500s with manuals when they came out. Maybe they over-compensated this time. I do think Detroit has an inflated price mindset nowadays. If they would just MSRP the cars lower, they might do better. They would sell a lot more 200s if they were priced like Corollas because you can get either of them for around $16k. And Chevy would sell more malibus if they were priced lower from the get go. Hyundai used to give you a sonata for civic money and an elantra for echo money. Buyers could “buy in bulk” or “by the pound”.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I think you’re thinking too hard on this.

      Chrysler/Dodge had to get it on sale to meet deadlines, and the manual was all that was ready, so it went on sale. The Malibu had to go on sale to meet deadlines, and the overpriced hybrid was all that was ready, so it went on sale.

      • 0 avatar

        Don’t get me started on the Malibu. I’m just disappointed in that car–and GM–as a whole…

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        “so it went on sale. The Malibu had to go on sale to meet deadlines, and the overpriced hybrid was all that was ready, so it went on sale.” And these are the decisions that will haunt a name or brand for years and years, the best example (atleast in the recent history that I drove) was the 92-93 STS, beautiful (actually stunning design in comparison to the areo-jellybean theme of the times) design, northstar was 3-6 months behind schedule (GM didn’t know at the time), delay launch for engine designed specifically to go with car, no, put in the 4.9 and ship, killed it before it could start, and it did start, just quickly reaffirmed what people remembered about or thought about caddilac, just one model year and another couple billion in R&D thrown away by a deadline.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I was impressed with this car in comparison to direct competition, Civic, Focus, Cruze etc. at the same price point. It’s actually roomy enough that I would consider it, even though I typically shy away from “smallish” cars.

    The reason it’s not selling on par with the top sellers yet is mostly because of visibility. It’s not well established in the market yet. It’s a fairly nice car for the money, and you can load it up if you want to, so expect to see sales rise from here.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Manuals sell better where there are wide open roads and little congestion, here in overly populated So Fla, a manual is a rare sight in this class of car, and when offered for sale, they take a big loss as well, I’ve seen a bunch of almost new manuals and sellers claim that they decided to buy automatics.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      The manual Dart I test drove had a tricky clutch takeup action, and the torqueless engine required a lot of shifting in suburban driving, particularly with hills. The automatic was much better.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Yeah, if they have 0 down, 0% interest and a low transaction price like Honda Civic econoboxes I bet the Dart will sell pretty well.

    Just like the FIAT 500, the Dart will prove the pundit/trolls wrong.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    Being 600 lbs heavier than a Honda Civic (and heavier than a 4 cyl. Accord) doesn’t help …

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Dart might be heavier, sturdier, better optioned and far quieter then the Civic but it gets the same gas mileage. Funny how no one calls Honda on their mediocre gas mileage. One thing Dart does have less than Honda is money on the hood.
      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=33082&id=31186&id=33166

      When the 2.4L R/t comes out it will be a far stronger car. Nothing improves a car like more torque. If they had the 2.4L with the 9 speed, I would buy one now.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        It’s true, the Dart is much nicer inside than the Civic and has much more usable space. I compared them directly to see what’s what and felt like the Dart made the Civic seem like a ripoff.

        The current Dart powertrains won’t set anyone’s world on fire, but all of them are more peppy than the Civic’s base engine.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        It’s much nicer than the 2012 Civic. The 2013 Civic has a dramatically improved interior. And the Civic’s drivetrains are bullet-proof at this point. There’s a reason people trust Hondas more than Dodges, and it’s not because they are too dumb to know any better.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Yep, the 2.4 will be much more interesting. But alas, I can’t move on one for a while.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I sat in 2 of them at the LA Auto Show, both manuals. I’m amazed that no one has commented on the manual gear linkage. It is by far the most impressive I can remember. It feels wonderful. Very Solid. Precise. Low friction. Perfect detents. Not sure that it translates to excellence while driving, but parked I have to say it’s class-leading.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Should have badged Alfa. Not saying lo & behold! Dart don’t really smack of Quantum of Solace bad guy. Little brand exploitation for a while on the manual. Similar ol 500 slush supplier or software was on hold for launch? Time for early discounting on a new Chrysler NA model Sergio.

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      Why didn’t they badge it as an Alfa? Jeremy Clarkson summed up what might be the prevailing attitude toward Alfas:

      “This is the thing you have to remember, Alfa build a car to be as good as a car can be… briefly.”

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    A suggestion to Fiatsler, build a Demon Dart 2dr and Gen Why will at least look at it….just sayin’

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    I want to like the Dart. I really liked the Neon, long after the bloom was off the rose (though the power front/manual rear windows were goofy), so the thought of an affordable small Dodge was appealing. But the Dart does nothing for me, and I can’t explain why.

    Maybe it’s the red interior trim.

    Or the front end styling.

    Or the insistence that front under-passenger seat storage is innovative.

    Or the lack of a hatch.

    Or the quasi Charger (enough already) rear styling.

    For all the hate, the Neon was unique, cheap, and cheerful — Hi!

    The Dart strikes me as an odd mix in a crowded field of better offerings.
    Oh Sergio won’t you send us, a Fiat Panda? (sing it like Janis and it’s almost amusing)

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    The ghosts of Neons past is hurting the new Dart. BUuyers shop online, and when thinking of Dodge, then remember “that awful Neon we[they] had”.

    I don’t care what Moapr fanatics say, Neon was uncopetitive junk. Dart has to prove it wont blow head gaskets or get recalls.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Neon was so uncompetitive it was one of the best showroom stock racing cars ever and many are still running around. I see several Neons all the time with over 200k miles.

    Apparently the Chinese version of the Dart is getting a big push from GAC, one of the major partners of Japanese carmakers.

    autonews.gasgoo.com/china-news/guangqi-fiat-plans-to-manufacture-up-to-500000-veh-121203.shtml

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      That’s because showroom stock racers are more willing to put up with leaky doors and windows, cheap interior trim and blowing head gaskets.

      Unfortunately, every one I knew who bought the first-generation Neon experienced those problems, and more. Just like the 1957 cars and the “cab forward” cars of the 1990s, the Neon was another Chrysler product with great styling and interesting features that ended up falling apart long before the loan was paid in full.

      The second-generation Neon was somewhat better, but Chrysler killed the coupe and the interesting versions. The bottom line is that there were plenty of better cars on the market than the Neon, and virtually everyone knew it.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “The second-generation Neon was somewhat better, but Chrysler killed the coupe and the interesting versions. The bottom line is that there were plenty of better cars on the market than the Neon, and virtually everyone knew it.”

        I agree with your points about the legacy of the Neon, but at the time when they were new, there really wasn’t a better car in the segment. They were incredibly popular at first due to their larger size, peppy engines and decent handling.

        Also, IMO the second generation had the most interesting versions. The SRT-4, with the 2.4L Turbo, the updated ACR and R/T with the 2.0L version of the 1.6L mill found in the Mini.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        There are still a lots of Neons driving around with high miles.

        Just because an expert like you didn’t like the Neon doesn’t mean many still like the car. My business partners daughter has a 200k miles one that has done very well for them.

        All the armchair CEO’s dissed the Fiat 500 and now have been proved wrong. The Dart R/T will be a formidable player in the compact/midsize field. Mark it down.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The Civic was a better car over the long haul – more refined, more reliable and better built.

        The Neon was like the 1957 Chrysler Corporation cars – they looked great on the showroom floor, and they outperformed the competition, but, after about a year, most people realized they would have been better off with a GM car.

        Just substitute “Neon” for “1957 Chrysler Corporation car” and “Civic” for “GM car,” and we have a case of history repeating itself.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I’m sure there are some Neons that made it to 200,000 miles (although plenty of Civics did that, and more).

        I’m sure that some people want to defend the Neon. Over at curbsideclassic.com, there is poster who defends the Chevrolet Vega as a great exercise in engineering and a terrific car. Just because a car has some fans doesn’t mean it was a great car. Some people like the AMC Pacer…

        We also have to look at what those people did to keep the 200-k cars running. I remember a college classmate of mine who had a 1986 Dodge Daytona in the early 1990s. He said it had over 150,000 miles on it. I was impressed, and asked what work had done to it. By the time he was finished listing the parts he had replaced, he could have built a whole new car. But his father was some sort of zone representative for Chrysler Corporation, so it didn’t bother him.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    Anybody alive in the 1970′s knows to avoid anything made by Fiat. Apparently that opinion was handed down to our children.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    A mediocre car in a crowded segment with a poison manual transmission no one wants.

    We can debate the merits of this car all we want, but for the money there are so many better cars and buyers in this segment don’t give a crap about european handling, style, or a manual tranny.

    They want cheap, boring, reliable, and an automatic.

    So far FIAT’s bailout of Chrysler has been a mess of fuzzy math accomplished by liquidating pre-Sergio stock of Sebrings, truck sales, and fleet sales of cop cars.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “We can debate the merits of this car all we want, but for the money there are so many better cars and buyers in this segment don’t give a crap about european handling, style, or a manual tranny”

      This just isn’t true. I wanted to see for myself and made a point to compare the Dart head to head dollar for dollar with it’s direct competitiors and I would hands down pick this car over any of the others at the same price.

      It has the nicest interior available in the segment with the most usable space and can be had with a ton of options (if you want them) that most of the competition doesn’t even offer.

      No it doesn’t beat the competition by 1mpg in fuel economy, and no you can’t get a high output engine…yet. But it offers the best overall package IMO. You owe it to yourself to check them out.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      How about a 446,000 mile Neon? I’ve seen plenty of Hondas with big stacks of repair bills in the glovebox
      http://www.allpar.com/cotm/2009/neon.html

      Then there’s all the races SCCA races it won against Civic.
      http://www.allpar.com/neon/scca.html

      BTW Jeep outsells Land Cruiser much worse than the gradual introductio of the Dart vs the Civic. Most of the old Land Crusiers I’ve seen have had their engines replaced with Chevy small blocks.

      I can’t wait to revist this in ayear just like all the people saying the FIAT wouldn’t take off.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        As I mentioned several times, I’ve compared a Honda repair record to an Audi repair record, both through 100K miles. The Audi was serviced for free at the dealerships for 4 years/50K, and then at an indie mechanic. The Honda was always serviced at an indie mechanic.

        The Honda was more expensive to service through 100K, even if you put a dollar value on the cheap service intervals before 50K on the Audi (mostly oil changes). The owner did not realize that the Honda had any non-routine repairs because he never read the invoices for the 60K, 75K, and 90K major services, but just paid them. They were not cheap.

        The Audi would have passed the Civic at 110K due to timing belt, but not by as much as people think. People on TTAC quote numbers allegedly told to them by dealerships for German-car repairs, but even the lowest and most plausible numbers they quote are often more than 2X what an indie would charge.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    At current sales figures they will sell 60,000 a year so there is a market for this car as it is, thats more sales than the entire Scion lineup. Dart 2.0 is weeks away with a industry leading 2.4L engine and a industry leading 9 speed automatic comes after that.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India