By on July 5, 2013

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In the compact segment, GM and Ford are having no trouble moving metal. The Cruze is coming off of a record month, and the Focus is slightly ahead of the Cruze year-to-date. So what about the Dodge Dart? Sales of the Dart have been incredibly weak; in a segment where the top sellers can move between 20,000 and 30,000 units monthly, the Dart has barely cracked 8,000 units per month. Not a good sign when Sergio Marchionne himself said “if you’re a serious car maker, and you can’t make it into this segment, you’re doomed.”

The Dart’s biggest competitor may not even be in the compact segment, but in the the very same showroom it lives in.

The Dart is not a bad car – far from it. I didn’t like the powertrain of the 2.0L SXT model I had - the engine felt coarse and the gearbox could not have been slower to respond -,but there were plenty of other things I found appealing; it handled well, the UConnect system was far better than the MyLink, SYNC or other competitive infotainment systems I’ve used, and everything seemed to be pretty well put together. On paper, the Dart should be pretty competitive, right?

The biggest problem standing in the Dart’s way is the Dodge Avenger. For $17,390 (including the $2,500 “cash allowance”) you can step up to a base model Avenger, which is a “bigger car” in the eyes of the average consumer, with a 2.4L engine. An SE V6, with a 283 horsepower Pentastar, is $20,090 when the “cash allowance” is taken into account, while an SXT package is another $300. Most importantly for the sub-prime market, there is currently 0 percent financing for 72 months and no payments for 90 days. This is big stuff for a car that is one of the darlings of the sub-prime market.

Open up the payment calculator and the rationale for moving up to the Avenger is even greater. A Dart SXT with the 2.0L engine (no options for simplicity’s sake, since configuring a car opens up a whole other can of worms) is $236 per month for 72 months with $3,000 down at 3.59% APR. An Avenger SE V6, with the same down payment and APR is $29 more per month.

As far as a dealer upsell goes, it’s a no brainer, and customers agree. Year to date, Dodge has sold nearly 30 percent more Avengers than Darts. Inventory data via cars.com shows 16105 Darts for sale, versus just 10832 Avengers (in terms of days of supply, Automotive News quotes 94 days worth of Darts on June 1, and just 36 days worth of Avengers). Nearly half of the examples on Cars.com are V6 models, and of those, 80 percent can be had for less than $25,000. Depending on options, it’s possible to get them for around $20,000 flat. That may be one of the most aggressive performance/dollar propositions on sale today.

I think it’s possible to make a good case that the biggest threat to the Dart is the Avenger itself, and the aggressive manner in which Dodge and its dealers (and Chrysler Capital/Santander) are pushing this car. No wonder there are constant rumors of it being killed off. It’s tough to beat from a value proposition – and if you believe Jack Baruth, it’s not actually a bad car, despite the auto press dumping on it consistently as the worst car on sale today. Speaking of which, how much love would the Dart have gotten with a Fiat or an Alfa badge on the hood. I’m sure the same faults that many were willing to criticize would have been glossed over as “character” – but we won’t know until someone translates the Mandarin language reviews of the Fiat Viaggio.

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117 Comments on “Analysis: Why Buy A Dart When You Can Buy An Avenger?...”


  • avatar
    c00lcat24_7

    There’s just too many players in the automobile industry, Chrysler and their sub-par products need to just go away.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      When the avenger is the worst car on sale today, that shows you how great the cars are that are being made today, ask anybody who has ever owned a late 70′s early 80′s Detroit product.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        There’s really no honor in being the worst, even if the worst is marginally better than a Chevy Vega.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The Avenger is hardly the worst car available. It’s just the most convenient punching bag. There are plenty of cars that I’d hate driving much more than Pentastar equipped Avenger for the money. In fact, if we’re matching dollar for dollar, it’s probably near the top of the list.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Actually, if you’re moving up from a 4-cylinder econobox, even the 2.4 and 4-speed auto is a big improvement. Maybe reviewers who test drive high end cars should be put into a Yugo for a week before they review a typical compact or midsized car.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Yep. In the world of buzzing 1600-1800cc crapboxes the 2.4L is, quite literally, a big block.

      • 0 avatar
        AMC_CJ

        I still drive a late 70′s Detroit product on a daily basis, and I’ll take it over a Avenger. Theoritically, if it was “new” condition, I’d take it over any basic sedan segment car on the market today.

        I don’t think that Avenger is going to last 35 years from now like my Chevy has.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      The Dart had one of the worst launches in recent memory, right after the terrible initial launch of the Fiat 500 (that’s TWO in a row there Sergio!). The initial batch of cars were launched with manual transmissions, which is ridiculous as only about 6% of cars sold in North America are manuals. That means 94% of the potential market for the Dart either couldn’t or wouldn’t even test drive the car when it was new and hot. The car was available in a dizzying number of trims and option permutations and could quickly escalate well passed $25,000 on the sticker. Add this to the fact that you could get a bigger Avenger with a V6 for less and you get the resulting poor sales for the Dart. Chrysler has moved to address some of these issues. The options are now value bundled into more affordable packages. The long awaited Dart GT (formerly RT) with the 2.4 liter engine should address some of the complaints of lackluster performance that the other two engine options seem to illicit. That engine is also supposed to be offered on some of the less expensive trims too. Also, the GT will really be a great value for the price and features it will offer standard. The Avenger will soon be discontinued leaving space in the model line-up for the Dart to have some breathing room. In China, the Dart is built and sold as the Fiat Viaggio and is/will be offered with a hatchback version, like the Ford Focus here. I think it would be wise for Chrysler to add a hatch to the Dart line-up as well.

  • avatar
    UniversalXpectator

    The Sebring/200/Avenger, while nothing special and mostly rental fleet grade kind of vehicle, is far better than any Dart in my book. A close family member has a ’10 Chrysler Sebring (Renamed to 200 in 2011+) and it is an actual nice car. Comfortable and drives fairly decently.

    The Dart looks like something the Koreans (Hyundai-KIA) would have come up with in the 1990s. And that is the problem with the Dart. It is a car that looks pathetically outdated and cheap. Even the cheapest of Hyundais-KIAs in the market today will blow it right out of the water and onto the next solar system.

    I think “Sergio the arrogant” miscalculated on this one big time.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      After spending time with a decently equipped Dart, I couldn’t disagree more. If anything, the Dart feels like one of the nicest and most expensive cars in it’s class. Aside from subjective exterior looks, the car its available with a ton of equipment, has one of the highest quality and biggest interiors, has good handling and competitive fuel mileage. In all respects it blows Hyundai products out of the water if comparing them directly.

      My only gripe about the Dart was the powertrain options which seem mismatched. The 1.4T is a pretty decent engine with the 6 speed manual, but opt for the auto and you’re stuck with a DDCT which many feel is awkward.

      The 2.0L was too slow for my tastes, but would probably be adequate for most compact buyers. Didn’t feel any slower than the base auto Civic or Corolla, but was definitely slower than the Focus (which is also stuck with a DDCT in auto form).

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        If they offer the hatch version it’ll be on my short list for a town scoot to replace our Rio5.

        They can take their time because my decision has to wait on my wife’s willingness to actually come with me to the car store and try some things on.

    • 0 avatar
      ratman

      Owing a 2013 Dart Rallye, it is my experience that it is a fine car. It handles really well. Has more power than my Elantra trade in had. Feature for feature, the Dart has equal if not better features. I admit that sometimes, the DDCT lets me down, but, I never worry jumping out into traffic like I did in the Elantra. Gas mileage is a little short of the Elantra, but I’m learning new ways to improve it. Generally, this is a great car. I plan on holding on to it for quite a while.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I feel, after having driven the Dart, that it completely misses the important things. Despite the toys, it is cramped, the seats are too low and uncomfortable, the interior is stark, and it just plain old doesn’t feel like a solid car. It feels like that “newfangled, trending” stuff that companies push on everyone, the kind that falls apart after a few years…except that this time, the public didn’t rush out to buy it in droves.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “it is cramped, the seats are too low and uncomfortable, the interior is stark, and it just plain old doesn’t feel like a solid car.”

        Interestingly these are the things I found quite good about the Dart. Especially after driving several competing vehicles the same day.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Yeah, I test drove a Dart and thought it felt comfortable and solid. My main gripes were with the power train tuning.

          Different strokes.

      • 0 avatar
        Michael500

        True dat, plus the Dart has “droopy” styling, the front and rear aren’t sharp and crisp, they droop a litle like an old J30. That Avenger with the 3.6 has got to be a screamer, it must be faster than the Charger because it has to weight 500 lbs less.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’d certainly rather have 283 horsepower and more room than under 200 and less room…

  • avatar
    windbane

    I had an 09 Avenger SXT V6 before I got my RAM in 2011 and I thought it was great. I had no problems with it and I spent a lot of time in it with my 1.5hr commute. Handled well and the V6 had plenty of get-up-and-go. I never got why the critics hated it so much. I guess they got spoiled driving BMW’s and the like?

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    c00lbla-bla-bla

    I own a 2012 Red RT Hemi Challenger. I have to say, it is the best looking car, most comfortable quite car I have ever owned. I would buy it again in New York minute. I get compliments on it all the time. Examples: at gas stations, parking lots, on my way to get a pizza, at my dentist office, when I go for a quick burger, at hotels on business, at the beach. As far as repairs, I have had a shock replaced under warranty and a seat belt wiring harness. Is it a perfect car? No. But it is one hell of a good looking car that makes me feel especially good when strangers come up to me to see and talk about my car. How often does that happen to you with what you drive?

  • avatar
    slow kills

    I’m obviously not the average car buyer, but I find every Dart to have an acceptable optional transmission that no Avenger does.

  • avatar
    dts187

    I had an Avenger as a rental not too long ago. Much to my surprise it was the SE V6. I had the car for a long weekend and came away pretty impressed. The acceleration was so decent it surprised me. My butt clock said 0-60 had to be 7 seconds or under. Some googling confirmed my guess. Pretty roomy and all around comfortable to drive. The interior wasn’t bad at all considering the price. Of course it has soft handling with noticeable body roll when taking corners a bit aggressively but that’s not the point of this car.

    If I was after a cheap sedan, I think I’d pick the Avenger over anything out there under $20k. A TrueCar dealer in my area has a guaranteed price of $18,002 (after customer cash) for an Avenger SE V6. That’s a lot of car for a small price and probably one of the best values on the market.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      I rented a 200 with the Pentastar V6 not long ago and agree completely. While hardly a paragon, it’s not bad and way better than an Avenger I rented about five years ago. I really suspect these motor-noter types really have little else to do but carp about nonsense.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Having had both the 4 and 6 cylinder Avengers as rentals this year, all I can say is that a fast completely crap car is still a completely crap car. And I found it to have hilariously more go than it had grip, turn, or stop. Just like a V6 Camry. Complete and utter waste of a fine engine.

        I don’t buy cars by the pound, and thus I cannot begin to imagine why I would buy an Avenger over a Dart turbo with 6spd stick, no matter how cheap it is. Cheap and nasty, not cheap and cheerful.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          This is America, we live for fast crap cars!

          What do you think muscle cars were?

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Good point, NoGoYo.

            That’s often forgotten by those who lived through the era. And those who didn’t are fed a mix of hype and nostalgia about them.

            One thing you can’t knock about them though… they made some awesome music as they rattled apart and rusted away.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            Very true, but thankfully the Detroit 3 have upped their game considerably and with some exceptions produce pretty good cars now.

            Where things get fun is the rest of the world do so as well.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I love the Dart’s looks but not the Avenger’s. But the Dart’s drivetrain is awful (still waiting for the 2.4…. when oh when will it ever get here?), and it sounds like the Avenger V6 drivetrain is sweet.

    I suspect potential Dart buyers aren’t necessarily buying Avengers; they’re just shopping somewhere else. The Avenger is probably succeeding lately just because of the new V6 option.

  • avatar
    sunridge place

    ‘ Most importantly for the sub-prime market, there is currently 0 percent financing for 72 months and no payments for 90 days. This is big stuff for a car that is one of the darlings of the sub-prime market.’

    Derek–you write about subprime quite a bit these days. If you want to gain any credibility on the topic, then you have to stop writing blatantly incorrect statements like that.

    Subprime borrowers do not qualify for 0% financing….the 0% is for well-qualified buyers…Typically Prime to Super Prime credit scores and appropriate income etc.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      With the ongoing support of the Fed, you’d be surprised what constitutes “well-qualified” for car finance these days.

      Even if the customer has to pay some penalty points due to bad credit, a base rate of 0% will make a car much more attractive than a car with a 3% base rate.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        If you know a lender that is giving 0% on sub-650 scores, then let us all know so I can send all my friends and family there.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        ‘Even if the customer has to pay some penalty points due to bad credit, a base rate of 0% will make a car much more attractive than a car with a 3% base rate.’

        It doesn’t work that way carguy. Subvented APR programs (usually in lieu of the cash rebate) are one thing.

        Subprime lending does not go up in baseline APR from the subvented rate.

        In other words. If the Avenger has a 0% rate for qualified buyers and the Kia Rio does not…it doesn’t mean the Avenger will have a lower APR than the Kia for a subprime borrower.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I think this analysis is spot on. A neighbor of mine,not a car person by any means just replaced their 04ish Neon with a new Avenger. I can only imagine that exactly what you state happened – they went in for a Dart but the price of the Avenger made it a better choice for that buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      The problem is Dodge doesn’t seem to have any good small engines right now. So being able to use the very nice Pentastar 6 is a huge upgrade that doesn’t cost much for most people..

      It’s competitive with an Accord V-6 for up to 10 grand less..

      The powertrains of the Dart just don’t cut it. I wouldn’t buy one. Sergio miscalculated and it took him too long to fix it. The 2.4 liter is still not in the Dart.

      This is where modular design would have really helped Chrysler..

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Chrysler-Fiat has the flexible assembly system that can widen/lengthen a Fiat econobox and put a Dodge/Alfa nameplate on it. The 2.4 was designed by old Chrysler and probably doesn’t fit in the Dart without some expensive re-engineering effort. This is why Sergio is going to destroy Chrysler, converting the Chrysler/Dodge line-up to modified Fiat FWD platforms, and the Jeeps to Fiat AWD platforms, with big RWD models using the 300 platform. Never forget that Sergio is an accountant, not an automotive engineer/designer.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The 2.4L going into the Dart is a largely new engine that was joint developped by Fiat and Chrysler, but mostly new Chrysler.

        • 0 avatar
          gslippy

          No, the 2.4 promised for the Dart is part of the new Tigershark family, closely related to the 2.0 Tigershark already available. It is not the old Chrysler 2.4 from the Caliber.

          They’ve promised it for over a year, and it still isn’t out. This delay is costing Dodge dearly.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            That’s what I meant. The “old” 2.4 is available in the existing Avenger and would be an improvement over the base 2.0 in the Dart (some people don’t want the 1.4 turbo), but a new 2.4 is needed to fit into the Dart, and it’s late. That’s become The Pattern with Sergio, promising but not delivering on time, and delivering less than expected.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          There is no flexible assembly system, the engineers at Chrysler were given a batch of parts and their CAD and told to put them in a car that fit in a certain foot print, oh and by the way you’ve got to get it to market in 18 months or I won’t be given more stock in Chrysler. Still the engineers there are much happier with the new owner than they were with Cerebus or Mercedes.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Actually, the Dart was purportedly a widened, lengthened version of the Alfa Giulietta. Sergio Marchione has been touting the flexible assembly line concept for awhile. Sergio’s answer to a question on the Belvidere Assembly plant tour:

            Q: There was concern initially about putting together different kinds of cars on one assembly line. Now that you’ve toured the plant are you satisfied?

            A: “They’ve done an incredible job. It’s not just making different cars, these are two completely different architectures. There is only one other plant in the world that does it this way and that’s in Brazil. It’s quite extensive there. I think they make 700,000 cars in that plant. But this is a unique event for us. And it works well.”

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Yes the Dart was derived from the Giulietta’s bits. I’ve talked to some of the engineers that worked on the project.

            Sure they build some different vehicles on the same line but the line was retooled to be able to do that specifc combo at a cost of over $600 million. The only way they are able to produce the Compass/Patriot and Dart on that line is the fact that both of them are such low volume. The reality is that it isn’t a truly flexible line and it isn’t that efficient. What Sergio left out was that while “that other plant produces about 700K per year” the Belvidere assembly plant is on track to produce around 200~250K per year.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Jeez…. always sub-prime, sub-prime, sub-prime….

    I’m sure I’m not the only one at the other extreme from sub-prime who is attracted to certain Dodge products because we’re just tightwads. That’s why we’re over 800. Only predicted reliability gives me any pause.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      849 FICO before my 2013 Accord loan!!! Tightwads/careful-users-of-credit unite!!! 8-D

      Who knows, it might be fun to drag a Pentastar 200 or Avenger against my Accord! Might be a fair fight!

      I give credit to Sergio where it’s due–he’s trying like hell! (However, he does need to get all the Dart’s offerings available–that Mazda 3′s gonna whip its a$$ if Fiatsler’s not careful! The 3 ** is ** gonna top the segment until Honda does something else with the Civic at its “true” MMC–** if ** this 9th-Gen can be salvaged at all! Corolla?? Nope!! Focus??!! Clean up the DTC and MyFordTouch, then maybe.)

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    About the only problem with the Avenger is it plasticky looking el-cheapo exterior styling and very cheap looking paint.
    Whoever approved of the Chrysler chunky square, strake hood styling needs to be fired and never hired again. And it that person turned a new leaf and designed the Dart, again they need to be fired. The Dart looks like a car pulled from the 90′s and given the “modern” treatment.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    “very cheap looking paint”

    Paint is becoming an obsession of mine lately because I see such ravishingly lovely paint jobs as well as utility-shelf grade paint from the same manufacturers and on the same models.

    You’d think that with so little to distinguish top-selling cars nowadays paint would be receiving a lot of R&D attention. I’d love to find a website for the layman that addresses this. Overall, it seems like the Koreans have stolen a march on the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      ” I see such ravishingly lovely paint jobs as well as utility-shelf grade paint from the same manufacturers and on the same models.”

      This is very true. Paint application can vary a lot from batch to batch and day to day in the body shops.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        I guess trade blogs for body shops are where I need to look for a little insight.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Isn’t painting nearly entirely done by robots these days? I would expect more consistency.

        But really, once the car is in the real world for a year or two, does it matter? These are work-a-day cars that will be lucky if they ever get washed at all, not exotics that will be lovingly rubbed with diapers.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          Excuse me, Sire, but you’ll find that most of us Oompa-Loompas find it prudent to make do with one vehicle per wage earner.

          Given that we do take some degree of pride in our property, however quaint it may be, we actually make the effort to wash and otherwise maintain our “work-a-day” cars as, indeed, they are our only cars.

          If nothing else, the exertion enhances the rosiness of our plump little cheeks.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Give me a break. The majority of cars might get run through a car wash once in a while. Hand washing, or even particularly CARING about the paint on your car marks you out as an enthusiast. And the number of enthusiasts buying Dodge Avengers who are not on this forum is somewhere between zero and none. And I’d say we have about ONE on this forum. People just don’t hand wash cars much anymore – I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone doing it.

            Most of my non-car nut friends and family basically NEVER wash their cars. They figure that is what rain is for. My friend with the Optima has not washed any of his cars in the 20 years I have known him. They only get washed and vacuumed when he takes them in for service, because the dealer does it.

            I’m not even all that anal about it, for the non-convertibles I run them through the car wash, and have them waxed once a year. I do keep the interiors as clean as I can though. Easy for me, single, no rugrats.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            I’m obviously an anti-enthusiast as shown by my history of comments here but even I hand wash and detail both our cars. Always have.

            It’s not at all uncommon to see handwashers in my neighborhood and everyone else religiously goes to car washes. If it’s winter time and there’s a brief warm spell into the 20s you can’t get near a carwash with people wanting to blast the salt off.

            I’m really amazed that you see such completely opposite behavior.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Where do you live? Here in Maine cars stay clean for about 10 minutes. In the winter, well, it’s winter! Too cold to hand wash anything unless you are a fanatic. Cars do tend to get run through a car wash to get the salt off once in a while – weekly for me. In the summer it rains all the time, and when it isn’t raining the pollen streams out of the trees. Pine trees are EPIC pollen producers. I might care more if I could actually see the car stay clean for a few days. Most people seem to care a WHOLE lot less than I do… Most family folk don’t have time to hand-wash cars, even if they cared, and car washes are expensive here – min $8 a shot – it’s a poor state too.

            And let’s face it, nobody buys this sort of car because they just love it and had to have it and it is their dream car. They bought it because they could not afford anything nicer, and it is just transportation to them. The appliance school of cars. That makes a HUGE difference. My Mom loves her Prius, and takes much better cosmetic care of it than she ever did the series of loaded minivans she drove prior. You could have planted potatoes in those things! She’ll never hand wash it, but it does see a car wash occasionally, and gets vacuumed.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I can see both sides. If this “cut-off low”-pressure system would ever move away from the Ohio valley, where it’s been parked for the last three weeks, I’d hand-wash my car again! (Did so just before our little pattern of 4:00pm rain-dumpings every afternoon in order to do a Dawn wash, clay bar and Zaino polish treatment.)

            I’m more anal about this new car than I’ve been about my last ones! Had pax. in the car today who asked me what day last week I had purchased the car, since it looked untouched on the inside! I’ve had it since March!

            Off to low-gloss Armor-All the dash and doors (again) tomorrow..! :-)

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I agree, I recently saw a Kia Optima with such a beautiful paint job that at first I thought it was something new from Jaguar. It was a sagey green color I had never seen before and it was so brilliant I really had to do a double-take on it

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        That Green Bay dealership I mentioned the other day with the Lincoln mausoleum had a white Optima that had me flat-out stunned it was so gorgeous.

        White! I used to believe nothing but major appliances and certain guitars should be white, but there it was. The chrome accents were perfect and I’m just glad it was the end of the day and salesmen weren’t accosting people or I for sure would have taken a test drive and probably gotten hooked.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I was parked next to a white Optima yesterday and thought it was a Taurus.

          Believe me, that’s a compliment. Older Kias were immediately recognizable as Korean crapboxes.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Oh yeah, older Kias were/are what nice people with too many kids and not much luck bought/buy. They make you sad when you have to walk past them in a parking lot.

            But this new Korean stuff is just a mind bender.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Buddy of mine has a loaded turbo Optima in the dark burgundy metallic on light beige leather and it really is a lovely car. Nice interior, all the toys and then some. Utterly dishwater dull to drive, but I am a bit spoiled in that department, I am sure most would love it. Otherwise my only complaint is that while there is miles of legroom in the back, there is no headroom.

          Heck of a car for the $26K he spent on it. He’s had it nearly two years and has had zero issues with it. Only just turned 5K though. :-)

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        “a sagey green color”

        This is what drives me nuts with manufacturers’ web sites. Try to find that color at any Optima trim level on the Kia site… ain’t there.
        Ditto the Dodge site for a forest green I saw on a new Durango, and Ford’s for the metallic moss-green I saw on a Fusion.

        What’s up with that?

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I wonder if anyone buys these Screaming Green Mustangs I see littering dealer lots.

          The Bodacious Blue Mustangs, I do see on the road, but not Screaming Green.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I know, I looked for it too, but it’s nowhere on their website

        • 0 avatar
          Roberto Esponja

          The choice of green for Durango lasted a very short time. Apparently there were few takers. Same with Journey. You can, however, still get th Grand Cherokee in Black Forest Green.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            That’s a pity, that Durango looked positively stately. Saw it at the gas station and immediately went online when I got home to see what other Dodges might share it. Couldn’t find it at all. And it used to be such a popular color, always a favorite of mine.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Green seems to be very out of fashion at the moment. Colors are cyclical, it will be “in” again eventually. 20 years ago green was all the rage. Green cars everywhere! My folks had a dark green ’92 Cherokee and there must have been 20 just like it in town. Literally 1/2 the Jeeps on the lot were that color. Now my Tasman Green BMW is about the rarest color that was offered on the 3-series, and it is discontinued on the new ones. It’s all shades of gray at the moment, with occasional flashes of color.

            This is one of those crazy fluorescent screaming green Boss Mustangs roaming around my town. Can’t miss that! The blue is a lot more subtle.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        I saw a new Hyundai Elantra in red the other day that was nothing short of stunning. It blew my mind that the paint was that good on a Hyundai.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Manual Transmission.

    If thats not a priority, then Avenger hands down.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    A question for you Derek – what are the fleet sales of the Dart vs Avenger? At my airport job, Avengers are a very common rental car (as are many other compacts such as the Jettas, Focii, Cruzes, Corollas, Elantras, Mazda 3s – although curiously no recent Civics), but have yet to see a single Dart.

    The main advantage on paper that the Dart has going for it vs the Avenger is its fuel economy. The Avenger 4 cylinder economy is pretty pathetic, and although the 6 cylinder is impressive for its power, it’s still well below the Dart. I have never driven a Dart so I can’t compare that to the Avenger.

  • avatar
    KindaFondaHonda

    The Dart is a flop for many reasons, least of which is the dumbest retread of a past name I’ve ever seen. Anything would be better than Dart. When I first read this was to be the name of Dodge’s new small car that would change Chrysler’s fortunes, I honestly thought it was some April Fools-type prank.

    Fail!

    Also, I would be very careful to accept Avenger sales numbers as gospel when talking about showroom customers. I believe the latest numbers show the Avenger to be the reigning fleet queen with well over 50%. Unless the Dart has similar breakouts (doubtful), it’s probably doing best with actual walk-in types.

    Either way, while the Avenger is a better value than a Fart (I mean Dart), if I were really interested in a value-priced Chrysler mid-size, I’d take the 200 all day long. It makes the Avenger look like a 3rd grader penned it. The 200 is much easier on the eyes.

    But frankly both are a disaster resale wise. Pity the fools who are so far upside down after a few years into a 6 year loan, they consider lightin’ the pile on fire. Or try selling on CL only to hear crickets when trying to get anywhere near what they still owe on the car.

    Oh, and buy GAP insurance! (It should be standard equipment)

    • 0 avatar

      The 200 is the fleet queen with 52 percent, but unfortunately I don’t have data (yet) for the Avenger. Even so, the fact that Chrysler has 90+ days of inventory for the Dart is quite telling.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        Chrysler certainly has overestimated demand for the Dart. Here are my 2 questions: What is the Dart’s fleet sales %? My observation about it not being a major fleet vehicle vs most of the competition is anecdotal. aside from the Honda Civic which, as we know, will sell well no matter what, how does the Dart compare against other compacts with similar levels of fleet sales (which I’m assuming is low for the Dart)?

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    This is the same problem GM had with the Malibu and Impala. The typical indifferent car shopper will take the big cheap car every time, even if it is antediluvian.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I live 30 miles from where they build the Dart and I have yet to see a real world one driving around, or if I have it was so unremarkable that I didn’t even notice

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    The Dart 2.4L with the 9 speed will be an industry leader, just like the Ram truck went from worst to first in gas mileage and refinement, so will the Dart and 200.

    • 0 avatar
      FirebombDetroit

      RAM remains a distant third in the only metric that counts, however – sales. I highly doubt a rehashed Hyundai engine and overly fussy transmission will work miracles for the Dart.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Have you driven the 9 speed? Since it’s not out yet, I doubt it. The ZF 8 speed is quite smooth, so why would the 9 speed be fussy? The new engine shares nothing Hyundai but the block.

        BTW, the Ram is one of the most profitable vehicles in the world and profitability will only go up with more diesels.

        • 0 avatar
          FirebombDetroit

          You see nine gears as a good thing. I see it as nine opportunities for things to go wrong, which given the Dart’s mongrel parentage seems the safer bet.

          As for the RAM, newsflash – trucks are profitable because they represent minimal investment and maximum return. Not even Fiatsler has managed to f*ck that equation up yet (give ‘em time) and they still don’t sell a third as many RAMs as GM and Ford trucks manage.

          • 0 avatar
            billfrombuckhead

            Why are you saying things that just aren’t true? June 2013 trucks sales
            Ford 367K units
            Chevy 242K units
            Ram 170k units

            http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2013/07/june-2013-top-15-pickup-truck-sales.html

            Furthermore the 8 speed ZF transmission has great reviews, why wouldn’t the 9 speed?

            “Firebomb Detroit”? I guess wanting to firebomb fellow Americans speaks for itself.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @Summicron: I still see the occasional Sephia or first-gen Accent putting around…comparing those two to their modern equivalents is quite a change. The Accent is still ubercheap basic transportation, but it just seems a lot better at that than the old model.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      The Koreans amaze me for out-Japanesing the Japanese. I remember the long slow climb through the 70′s of Japanese cars from their RWD rustbucket days through the massive boom in their middle 80′s sales to the glory days of the 90′s when they simply had no competition for reliability, build quality and fuel economy.

      Bleepin’ Koreans have done this in a decade.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Who would have thought that the Koreans would ever have a RWD V8 powered car that wasn’t just a re-use of some other company’s design?

        I certainly didn’t expect it!

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          I think that the rise of Korean cars sealed China’s fate as a potential major exporter of cars.

          The bar is just too high now and the competition too fierce for *another* Asian country (apologies, nihonjin) to be a major player.

          • 0 avatar
            infinitime

            True, the bar is much higher, but China’s advantage is in scale.

            Just look at the changes in the manufacturing of industrial grade steel, and in large oil tankers and cargo ships. Ten years ago China was an also-ran in both sectors, but large injection of capital into heavy industry has made it possible for it to become the leading manufacturer in both.

            At the end of the day, cars are not THAT hard to design, when compared to something like a jet fighter, a submarine or even a commercial airliner. It is simply a matter of whether a company is willing to invest in that sector heavily.

            The larger Chinese manufacturers (FAW, SAIC, DongFeng) are all state owned, and basically have the backing of a well-resourced, and largely politically driven government behind them. This lends it a considerable advantage in terms of cashflow than even large western corporations, who at the end of the day must be accountable to its shareholders…

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            “largely politically driven government behind them.”

            Exactly. The leadership of which government daily rules by local fiat, cronyism and the real threat of execution for anyone who grossly violates a stable level of corruption.

            All the old Soviet ills of pet projects, falsified numbers, inter-party cliques and coups etc., but with a lot more money to waste.

            Were you around for the Bernstein report on the state of Chinese auto manufacturing that TTAC briefly made available a few months back?

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      The ‘new’ Accent is a really decent little car. After driving it and the Elantra, I’d take the Accent 10 times out of 10. My mom concurred, and her 2012 has been a great little car. Delivers better than advertised MPG, handles OK. It’s a little underpowered, but you have to give up something. . .

      The only thing: Get it loaded. You want the SE with everything.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Avenger is “dead man walking”, to be cut next year. Wait and see what happens then, the Dart will suddenly be all over sub prime market.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I think Fiat/Chrysler aren’t out of the woods yet. After years of sub par products Fiat/Chrysler still have work to do to lift their image.

    The Chrysler image isn’t nowhere’s good as Toyota or even GM/Ford/Kia/Hyundai etc products.

    Even in Australia Chrysler still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many. But to Chrysler credit here sales are improving.

    This is what I’m reading in a number of comments already. I think the Dart is a Chrysler problem not a ‘Dart’ problem.

    In Australia, Chrysler products compete directly with the Korean vehicles in price and equipment. These Korean cars are imported from Korea and their quality is almost on par with the Japanese (from Japan) imports.

    The American manufacturers like Chrysler need to improve quality more and most importantly consumer perception of their products. This will entail Chrysler to make damn good vehicles cheaply.

    Chrysler has to hang in there, improve and maybe one day be perceived as a producer of reliable and competitive products.

    Perception and marketing can make or break a mediocre vehicle like the Camry or Corolla.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      What’s scary about Dodge/Chrysler is that they haven’t built a good Fiat product yet.

      Think about it – the Jeep Grand Cherokee is awesome. Looks great, drives nice – but its built on an old Mercedes platform. It’s the same with the other hit products. The Charger is awesome – a really great deal with the Hemi but its built on a Mercedes platform. Add the challenger to that list..

      Then the other big hit is the Ram truck. Not sure what’s that built on but its not Fiat. So all the big sellers right now are not Fiat. Fiat seems good at sprucing up the looks of the interior – and the quality does not seem bad. But the engineering – we need to see a Fiat platformed car that people actually like..

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    A new Avenger? No! a used Avenger, yes! value plummets after just a couple of years old, ditto for the Journey and most of these Chrysler/ Dodges, (300/Charger excluded)

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    While I haven’t been in an Avenger, I won’t buy a Dart because my knee rests on the console. The interior is too cramped for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The Dart has a spacious interior – for a compact. The Avenger is an average midsized car and interior space is marginally better. Console creep is getting nasty in all classes, so you and I are going to be limited to full sized offerings to get the room a compact 1974 Dart provided.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @Summicron: I could never drive a muscle car as it was back in the 60s. Manual steering, 4 wheel drums, and a big V8 engine would make for complete and utter terror.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      Absolutely, and add to that the fact that there were some pretty big bodies (mid-size, back then) involved like Chargers, Gran Torinos, Malibus…etc. They weren’t all “pony cars”. All kinds of evil dynamics were just itching to break out when you pushed those beasties too far.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Oh I know, I had a science teacher who almost killed himself in his hopped-up ’68 Road Runner.

        Muscle cars are cool, but even cooler with brakes and steering boxes that can control them.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          Yep. Closest I ever owned to a muscle car was an ’66 Impala SS 396. There were plenty of old 2 lane blacktops where I couldn’t always stay off the shoulder due to the sheer size of it.

          If a big rig or a tractor/wagon was coming toward me I’d have to head for whatever crumbly-ass shoulder was available. Fun in the winter time, you betcha!

          • 0 avatar
            CelticPete

            Yeah if you want a muscle car – get a resto mod. They add all the safety stuff and improve the brakes and suspension. Still not as safe as a modern car but alot safer then a motorcycle.

        • 0 avatar
          luvmyv8

          I love the muscle cars of yore, but a 440 Roadrunner with 4 wheel drum brakes is a genuinely frighting thought…..

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            My science teacher only had a hopped-up 383, so a 440 would have been even more terrifying.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            The fastest I ever went in a car was in my brother-in-law’s ’69 Roadrunner… also one of the most terrifying moments I ever had in a car

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Some models “in the old days” had optional front discs, but all others had 4 wheel drums, including full size sedans with big block engines with a ton of torque. I had a ’62 Buick LeSabre with the optional 4bbl 401 engine and 4 wheel drums. Slowing down gradually so you don’t overshoot your stopping point became a habit. Scary? Nope. We were all stupid back then.

  • avatar
    Kamaka

    The Dart-Avenger sales are to previous Malibu-Impala sales.

    The Avenger and 200 are the spiritual successors to the “Magic” Caliber and are sorely needed for these 3 customer bases.

    1. New car buyers. The low price, big rebates, and incentivized financing helps first time car buyers.

    2. Bad Credit, the subprime market new and used. Used Avengers are cheap but still new enough to have warranty this makes them finance darlings regular and sub-prime.

    3. Upside-down/buried trade-ins. No matter how good your credit is if you owe too much on a trade a full loan won’t be given but the big rebates make this trade look much better on paper.

    My friend just traded in their BMW 335 for a new Chrysler 200. They moved and needed a lower payment and had good credit. The Chrysler had enough rebates to offset their negative equity and now they have a new 200 S V6. They know it’s no BMW but payment and maintenance is cheap.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    Driven several Avengers. I4 or V6. I’d rather have a Dart anytime. The Dart at least looks like they tried. The Avenger, especially that boat anchor I4, is awful in everything.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Panel gaps, I’m certain the Dart has less paneel gaps than the practically new Avenger rental I dealt with, even the rear doors didn’t match up!

  • avatar
    AJ

    I’m not surprised that the Dart is not selling well. You’d really have to be in the Dodge family, or at least a preference for a Big Three car, to ignore smarter choices, such as a Civic built in Indiana.

    In a related story, when it came time that I decided to buy my first new car, my father-in-law, who is the classic old Dodge guy, recommended that I buy a Neon. I laughed and bought a Civic instead. Today, that Civic is now my mom’s car and drives as great as it did when I bought it. A Neon would have long ago been sold off, and probably junked by now.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    The Dart GT will help sales. 18″ wheels, 8.4″ touch screen, 7″ TFT dash screen, sport suspension & appearance etc for $19,999. Its what the car needed to launch as.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Wow!… Hope it’s not too little too late, on paper it’s impressive

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I had no idea there was/is a Dart GT until I read this, and it doesn’t look bad for the listed $20995 MSRP. Looks like Chrysler is extending the 2013 model year to sell the Dart GT as a 2013 model. Seems like maybe they should have just had the GT model available to begin with.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    The Dart is a good car that will get even better. The Avenger is best suited for fleet sales/rental cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Avenger is an also-ran in fleet/rental. It can’t compete with the Impala. If only Sergio could figure out a way to build them “used”. That’s where they shine, among people who can’t quite afford a pre-owned Mitsubishi.


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