By on March 5, 2014

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Poor sales of the Dodge Dart have led to temporary layoffs at the auto maker’s Belvidere, Illinois plant, where the Dart is produced. Despite Chrysler sales being up 11 percent last month, sales of the Dart were down 37 percent.

Speaking to the Daily Herald, Autopacific’s Dave Sullivan noted that

“What’s going on now with the Dart is that when buyers go into a Dodge showroom they are getting such great incentives on the Dodge Avenger that buyers are choosing the larger car. It’s going to be several months before the Avenger is sold out, then we’ll get a better sense where the interest is in the Dart.”

Current incentives on the Avenger mean that it’s possible to get a mid-level Avenger for roughly the same price as a Dart. Although the difference may be $1,000-$2,000 in MSRP, it means virtually nothing in the realm of monthly payments that most car shoppers operate in.

As of February 1, Chrysler had a 220 day supply of Avengers and a 129 day supply of Darts. Both figures are abnormally large for the industry, but they only serve to highlight the problem outlined by Sullivan. Incentives on the Avenger will rise, as Chrysler tries to clear out the remaining stock, meaning the Dart could languish on the lots. Year-to-date, the Avenger is even outselling the Dart by about 3,000 units.

Prior to the Dart’s launch, Sergio Marchionne sat for an interview with 60 Minutes, where he proudly showed off the Dart for the cameras and said “If you’re a serious car maker and you can’t make it into this segment, you’re doomed.” At the time, it might have seemed like harmless bluster. Right now, those words look a bit ominous – even if the Dart itself isn’t such a bad product.

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162 Comments on “Poor Sales Of Dodge Dart Prompt Plant Layoffs...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    The Avenger and 200 have definitely been a big problem for the Dart.In the low end of the market, many shoppers buy by the pound unless they are really charmed by the features the Dart has that the JS cars don’t.

    In spite of the Dart sales problem, they have only just started to incentivise the car. The customers who have them really like them, and it is class competitive, so getting the competition off the same showroom floor would go a long way to helping sales.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      In my rear view mirror yesterday, saw a white one. Caused me to finally realize why I don’t like it’s downtrodden face – it looks like a frog from head-on.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed, but I think Dodge’s main issue in selling the Dart is their poor reputation in this segment.

      But overall, I think the Dart is a win for Dodge – its’ their first truly competitive car in this segment in a LONG time. They can build on that.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        That’s a part of it to be sure. Dodge is basically starting over in this segment and doesn’t have the customer turnover that some other brands have almost by default. The Dart is a good car, not the best in every measure, but the best sellers rarely are the best cars. Chrysler needs to keep marketing it, and consistently keep improving it for the reputation to build.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The best sellers are the best cars. Failure to accept that is what holds some people back from understanding the market. Every year, a million people choose one of the top four selling compacts over a bigger and cheaper clunker like the Avenger. The Dart is faltering because it is one of the weaker offerings in the class. Sure, Chrysler and Fiat’s track records can’t help it, but that isn’t stopping silly people from buying their other products.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I should have been clearer. I agree that overall, the market determines “the best”. The meaning of my comment was to say the best cars on paper aren’t always the best selling.

            Don’t let the content of my comments get in the way of an opportunity to slam the company, though.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Then explain why the Mazda 3 and 6 – widely acclaimed as the best cars in their respective class – sell poorly compared to their competitors?

            It’s all about brand reputation. Toyota and Honda have been skating on theirs for a LONG time. One wonders why they don’t get creamed for that. Actually, we don’t have to wonder, when it comes to you.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        It’s like they’re not interested in selling the Dart to their old Neon customers. For some reason, Dodge seems to think its customer base has grown much more affluent than they were before the recession.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          That’s a good point. And that one Caliber thing was the replacement for the Neon. That worked out well.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Neon customers were low-price (no profit) shoppers, and I think it’s fair to say that Fiat Chrysler isn’t interested in them, going forward.

          All the new Chrysler platforms are positioned higher than their predecessors. They’ve even announced that they won’t be increasing Ram production capacity, which means that they will concentrate on the higher end of the pickup market (leaving the U-Haul spec to Ford and GM).

          I wish them well. It seems to be working with Jeep and Ram, but it may take a few years for Dodge and Chrysler customers to get adjusted.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            And that’s why Chrysler is a bottom-barrel car maker. Toyota sells the Corolla, knowing that the next time the buyer comes in he’ll buy a Camry, and then maybe an Avalon or a Lexus.

            Tossing out the low end of the market guarantees that you won’t have return customers whose circumstances have improved over the years.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            And that’s why Chrysler is a bottom-barrel car maker. Toyota sells the Corolla, knowing that the next time the buyer comes in he’ll buy a Camry, and then maybe an Avalon or a Lexus.

            Tossing out the low end of the market guarantees that you won’t have return customers whose circumstances have improved over the years.

            For some reason, TTAC keeps insisting that I already posted this commment. Hence, some nonsense at the end…

        • 0 avatar
          jim brewer

          I don’t think their prices are too high. The Dart is pretty competitively priced. Less than $19K for an Aero model. It was absolutely trashed in this blog and in other publications, so they have to make headway by word of mouth (assuming the automotive press was wrong, of course) and discounts. On paper they seem pretty competitive.

          • 0 avatar
            frozenman

            Over the years my Stepfather always kidded he wanted a Mercedes but felt he could never afford one, so he drove Chrysler instead. Recently he decided wanted a loaded Jeep GC, the sticker shock from the Jeep dealer made eventually sent him down to the Merc store for look. He now has a new M class, so yea Fiatsler prices are too high for the class they are in.

        • 0 avatar

          Neon customers moved on years ago. Remember how Shah Khan contributed an article about suspensions to TTAC? He was a founder of Bay Area Neon Enthusiasts and moved on to Miata. Another founder moved to RSX. Yet another moved to Scion xB. I lost track of the 4th and final one. There aren’t any “Neon customers” left, or at least not enough.

      • 0 avatar

        But Chrysler and GM aren’t known for their capability to build on that, which may yet become a problem. In particular I remember well how Crysler discarded Neon and jumped to JS cars, just because it was easier up-front to build CUVs from it. GM was also known for swappling small platforms like socks, never developing either Chevalier or Cobalt/ION (now replaced by Cruze). If such sad past is any indication, Dart is going to be dragged along until while there’s any juice left, while Cherokee takes over Compass. Then bankrupcy, bailout, new platforms, rinse and repeat?

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      Is it class competitive? I’ve driven rental strippers of the Dart, Focus and Cruze. Of the three I’d say the Dart is the laggard with the Focus being the best. Just my personal opinion, but I don’t see the Dart nearly as amazing as the press seems to think it is.

      The #1 problem is in that segment the go-to vehicles are Honda and Toyota. Convincing a Corolla or Civic buyer to look at Dodge is, well, DAMN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE. Not that Ford and Chevy have it much easier winning over converts.

      That said, the Focus is a name that has been around a while and has a millions of current drivers that will be looking to replace their old ones. Chevy has millions of Cavalier drivers. Dodge has what? Are there any Neons left? Cobalt? Ha ha! It’s an uphill battle for them from the start.

      Best case scenario is for Dodge to slash prices and give them away to build a following.

      • 0 avatar

        It really depends. I preferred Cruze rentals, while Focus had exceedingly poor visibility (enough to seriously impede parking) and annoying throttle tip-in that kep annoying my passenger (who blamed my driving ability for every jolt). Focus is quite sporty, so I suppose it’s good for people who rent in order to hoon with impunity, but otherwise it’s not so straightforward.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          One thing I can say for the Focus is I think it has the most comfortable seats I’ve sat in. Seats are certainly an individual preference, but at least for me that is a huge advantage in the Focus corner.

          As a rental, I liked almost everything else about the Cruze more, except that the seats were probably the worst I have ever sat in.

      • 0 avatar
        Carfan94

        The press always overrates GM and Chrysler products.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        It is competitive. Whether a given customer likes it depends on what they value in a car. I compared the Dart to the Focus, Cruze and Civic when it came out as I was in the market for a new car and would have chosen the Dart out of that group because it was the nicest appointed inside at that price point, and the roomiest.

        The Civic at the time was sparse and severely cheapened out, it wasn’t even close. The Focus was peppier and handled a bit nimbler, but was more cramped inside and the dash design and MFT is off putting. The driving position of the Cruze in particular didn’t feel ergonomic to me at all, with a seating position that felt like a 3rd gen Camaro and intrusive center console and instrument panel. The Dart felt like the best one to live with.

        In the end I decided I didn’t want an economy car and got a Hemi Charger, but if I go back to an economy car, I’ll look at the Dart again.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I consider myself a potential customer for a Dart GT manual trans. Why? Because I’ve realized there is lots of time in life to drive massive cars/CUVs/SUVs but only a small window to drive sports sedans before life dictates greater capacity.

    However every review I’ve read talks about how awful and bulky the stick is and how the shift knob is large even for someone with big hands.

    I’ll test drive one but if I’m trying to put my enthusiast money where my mouth is with a stick shifted vehicle it has to be pleasant to shift.

    Also, is it just me or does Chrysler/Fiat have one of the worst company websites for “build your own” and then trying to figure out if a dealer has something close to that on their lot? I configure a GT how I want it and the website tells me “33 similar cars in your area” but when you search inventory it shows hundreds of Darts from SE to SXT to GT to Areo.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I like the looks, interior and packaging of the Dart. I had considered one a while back.

      But I found the 1.4L/6MT terrible to drive (ridiculous boost lag and terrible gearing), and I heard the 30K GT was also equally unpleasant (for slightly different reasons) which for 4k more is why I ended up in the Verano.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        $30K for a GT? Who was the dealer? Dewy, Screwem, and Howe Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat.

        I’ve built my own for less than $25K and I’m finding some on Auto Trader (not in the color I want) but new marked down to a little over $21K.

        Oh wait, you are in Can-a-da.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          You can load it up with things like the technology group with rain sensing wipers keyless go and a bunch of other stuff, as well as navigation, premium sound, sunroof etc. Basically, if you tick every box it can get to 30k. But you’re right, in the US, the same car prices out to 25ish. The main difference seems to be int he starting price and delivery charges.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I wanted fully loaded :)

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @dave, I can appreciate getting exactly what you want if you buy new. The closer it is to perfect for you the longer you’ll keep it. Long term ownership is the only way the expense of a car purchase makes sense in my eyes.

            FYI my favorite salesman at the local Buick dealer recently told me that his bosses won’t order a manual trans vehicle unless he has the buyer and a deposit in hand.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Same, they required cash up front to even place the order.

            Long term ownership is the plan. Either for myself, or in five years I’ll give it to my dad, happy birthday. His DD 97 LSS will likely be done by then.

            I test drove a Dart last spring, well before this car purchase was even likely. I think the Dart is a looker, and wanted to like it. The driving experience totally ruined it for me, such that the Dart wasn’t even on my candidate list when I started looking for a car in earnest, even though in general it has the right stuff. (big motor, 6 speed, etc).

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Does anyone know if the 6-speed manual in the Verano turbo is the same as the 6-speed manual in the 1.4 turbo Cruze? There are manual Cruzes in dealer stock one could at least infer some shift feel from driving one.

            I hate when a trans/motor is on the options sheet but no dealer will carry one so you can test drive it.

            Local Mazda dealer at least keeps manual 6s in stock so you can try out the clutch, shift quality, and ergonomics of the shifter.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @davefromcalgary

            The Church of 3800 demands your ensure the ’97 LSS lives on.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Don’t worry 28, my dad’s summer car is a supercharged 92 98 Touring. It sleeps the winter away under a cover in the garage, away from the salt and gravel.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            This pleases the Bishop’s ears but we still must insist the LSS be saved or its parts reused in lesser Eighty Eights lest you be cast into the fires of turbo lag hell.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I;ll save the engine for my “someday Fiero”

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            @PDan,

            I consider it a minor miracle I was even able to find a fully spec’d 2013 Verano Turbo 6MT to test drive. The dealership told me they sold about 4 very easily in early 2013, and this one had been languishing on their lot since. That being said, they certainly weren’t dumping cash on the hood to entice me to take it off their hands. At the end of the day, I decided it made more sense to get the exact one I wanted, of the current model year, for barely more than the 2013.

            My search turned up one in Calgary and one in Edmonton to test drive. Edmonton is 3 hours away. If that was the only way to test drive one I would have driven up to Edmonton for the day. But only because I was seriously looking to buy. I wouldnt drive to another city for just a casual test drive.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @davefromcalgary

            Will you Krown your new Verano?

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            @28,

            Krown seems to be “TTAC approved” so I think yes. I would hate to not do it and get a rust bug.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @dave

            I’m thinking about driving north and doing my 2008 Pontiac in the summer.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            28,

            I feel I should know, 2008 Pontiac what?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @dave

            Its a Grand Prix. Spent its first two years in Buffalo but has enjoyed a lazy winter free life since then.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          $21K? Dang, that’s Focus ST money, with the ST2 package. Maybe an option worth looking at, if you want small, sporty, and manual.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      +1. They seem to be pushing what they want you to buy regardless of your choice.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      It’s not just you with the Chrysler/Fiat websites. I always close their configurators pissed off and confused.

      I wonder if anyone has made a replacement to the shift knob yet. Replacing just the shift knob can make a surprising difference in shift feel.

      It does pain me to hear about terrible manual shifters. Manuals have a hard enough time in the marketplace without shooting themselves in the foot first. It’s also an incredible let down to find out a car is offered with a manual, only to then be told that the manual sucks (Regal, Verano).

      I know manuals will never again be hot sellers, but maybe they would have slightly better market share if all of them were more on par with manuals from Honda, Mazda, BMW, and VAG?

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      I agree about the build-your-own feature of the FCA website, Dan. Nissan and VW have much more user-friendly sites that actually return hits for something you built, in my experience. BMW isn’t too bad, either. Toyota is the worst, though.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @LeeK, Shouldn’t they be heckled for it, ala Statler and Waldorf?

        -What was that?
        +They call it the “medium sketch”.
        -The medium sketch?
        +Yeah it certainly wasn’t rare and it wasn’t well done.

    • 0 avatar
      Wirey1

      If you’re willing to settle for the SXT trim, they’re typically around $15k used in SE michigan. Fully optioned SXTs get closer to $20k.

      I did an overnight trial with a used SXT. The shifter was a little annoying, but more because of the throw than than the know. If you scrounge the forums, you can find at least two aftermarket shift linkages. One shortens about 25% and angles the stick towards the driver slightly. The other shortens throw around 40%. Both increase shift effort, but the 40% decrease has a larger work penalty. It also costs more than the 25% reduction.

      For reference, the stock shifter has your elbow coming on and off the armrest. You have to build some muscle memory to keep from knocking your elbow when shifting into 2, 4, or 6.

      Also, the knob could be better. It’s large, slippery, hollow plastic. But the worst part is actually the seam where the top and bottom halves come together. Fit is pretty good, but you can still feel the edges.

      • 0 avatar
        jim brewer

        Don’t know why its so hard for the manufacturers to get a good shifter feel, but it is. It doesn’t seem to be “tunable” Or they don’t bother.

    • 0 avatar

      Forget the reviews, go drive one. Remember how Jack drove a Wrangler and at first pronounced the long throws “agricultural”. Or how about the heated difference of opinion about the shifter of Fit Sport? Then let us know how it went.

      • 0 avatar

        Agree I have spent many miles in a borrowed Dart manual I never really had complaints about the shifter ( I guess I would call it average) but it’s no where near the wost shifter Ive used. I would avoid the 1.4 other than that it’s a great can, the only other compact I would consider for a long road trip beside the Dart would be the cruise. The corolla and the civic feel tiny and a little I guess insubstantial. The focus is fun for about an hour than it’s just tiresome I haven’t drive an new golf so that may be good as well I like the new 3 other than the seat doesn’t go far enough back for my 6’3″ ass.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @PD:

      The shift knob in the Dart is akin to the size and shape of a computer mouse, but positioned vertically. I have fairly large hands and found it to be very uncomfortable. Not only that, the vertical position was strange, too; I kept running my elbow into the center armrest, which kept my arm propped up at a weird angle. The Hyundai-sourced automatic was very nice, but the 1.4T and 2.0 were not good. Maybe the 2.4 solves a lot. Let us know what you think.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “Also, is it just me or does Chrysler/Fiat have one of the worst company websites for “build your own” and then trying to figure out if a dealer has something close to that on their lot?”

      BMW’s sucks for that, too. I don’t think it lets you do it at all, and their dealers in my area don’t have easy tools to search their inventory, either.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    But it is a poor product. Can we not talk about it now? From the article you cited:
    “On the road, the Dart is let down only by the godawful drivetrain.”

    • 0 avatar

      I liked a fair bit about it. It was roomy, quiet, handled nicely, UConnect 8.4 is fantastic. The 2.0L/6AT combo is junk. I got a lot of flack for it in the comments of that piece, but the throttle calibration is very poor and the transmission is also poor. I’m willing to give the 1.4T and the 2.4L a shot, but I was very unimpressed with the 2.0

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Should just standardize on the better engine between the 2.0L/auto and 2.4L/auto and offer the Turbo few want on the top trim.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          They’ve done that for 2014. 2.0L for base models, 2.4L pretty well standard on everything else and 1.4L for Aero models.

          The 2.4L nets about the same fuel consumption as the 2.0L, but is a lot more responsive, so they probably did the right thing by making that the volume motor.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m glad to hear that but would have been better and probably cheaper to do away with the 2.0L. People getting Dart rentals/fleet are more likely to get a base model and come away with a negative opinion which could have been mitigated by simply standardizing on the “good” motor on all models.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        From what I understand, the 1.4 (in this platform) is a dog and you have to keep the revs high to keep the bastard moving. Can’t comment on the 2.4.

        A shame in my opinion. I thought they may have had something here.

        And its not a bad looking car, to boot. The masses love a good looking car.

        Wouldn’t put it in my garage… I don’t trust Sergio- or the Chrysler brand-enough to take that plunge.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I’ve heard the same thing but there is a minority out there who might prefer a manual/turbo motor.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            Seeing as the Renegade will also ONLY offer the 1.4L with the standard transmission, perhaps they should rethink that configuration.

            Too little, too late?

            Just because you want to do the shifting yourself doesn’t mean you should have to suffer.

            Maybe all the penny-pinching isn’t a plus in this regard. They shouldn’t carry over the 1.4L powerplant into everything.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m really not up on it to make an accurate judgement but it sounds like it should just be dropped altogether.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Sounds like a good candidate for a test, Mr. Kreindler…

      • 0 avatar
        SayMyName

        When your only solution is to make the heavier, thirstier engine standard in your fuel economy leader, you have a serious engineering problem.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Bottom line: they’re using high revving tiny Fiat engines in cars much bigger and heavier than the engines were designed for. Maybe Sergio’s engineers are putting all their eggs into the 3.1-Pentastar/9speed-ZF basket?

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I don’t think there is anything wrong with the 1.4T, just the wrong engine for the Dart. The Dart is a freaking heavy car (3300#), there is a huge difference between a 500 Abarth and a Dart.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Exactly. The 1.4T is for A and B segment Fiats, not a heavier than normal compact like the 3186 lb. Dart. The Corolla is the same overall size but only 2734 lbs. curb weight, and its 1.8 four is just about right. A more advanced 2.4 four than the one they have, or small V6 would be more appropriate for the Dart.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Bigger is better and price rules.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      fredtal, after reading the article that is exactly what I was going to say. You beat me to it! Good for you! Clear, concise and directly to the point in six words!

      The damn thing is just overpriced for what you get. It is competing in the segment of the Corolla and Civic, each of them the standard of the world for those who seek to buy in this class.

      Now a Dart with a Pentastar V6 and 9-speed auto might sell pretty well if it’s priced around $18K. It doesn’t have to be fancy on the inside, just more gutsy than 4-bangers in this class.

      Who gives a sh!t about gas mileage? Those who do should take public transportation or ride a bicycle. The cost of gas is just the cost of living for the rest of us.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        ” The cost of gas is just the cost of living for the rest of us”

        That’s precisely why many people care about fuel efficiency. Less fuel = less cost.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Then ride a bike or hitch hike. And if you must have a car then buy an econobox.

          One reason this car sells so poorly is its abominable drive train, dumbed down for eco freaks and mpg alarmists.

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            @highdesertcat – you don’t have to have an abominable dumbed down drive train for good mpg. The Focus and Mazda3 can both match or beat the Dart in MPG and fun to drive.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yes, the Mazda3 is what I am considering for my 21-yo grand daughter as we post. I am planning to trade her 2011 Elantra in May when she graduates from College.

            I don’t care for the Focus. One of her girlfriends has one. None of the girls who rode with her cared for the seating position and ride quality, during the 90 mile trip to school and the 90-mile trip back.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @highdesertcat – There’s plenty of us who care about gas mileage but for whom public transport isn’t a practical or desirable option.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Well, then buy an econobox. This Dart is too much car for its drive train and thus is a dog.

          Clearly outside of your wants and needs in a car, so set your sights on something smaller and lighter like a Versa or the like.

          People who have to whine about fuel economy ought not to buy anything with an engine in it.

          But in reality they will find that a horse-drawn carriage costs more to operate than a car.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            You seem to be forgetting that the Dart is suppose to be Chrysler’s econobox, not some sports sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yes, I understand that the Dart is supposed to be their econobox but as such it isn’t all that economical, not in size, not in price and not in gas mileage.

            We actually looked at several for my 21-yo grand daughter. Liked the SIZE. Didn’t like the lethargic acceleration and loose handling. Her 2011 Elantra does better in all categories.

            Liked the Mazda3 loads better, and for less money, with more standard equipment.

            But this may all become a moot point for us. Depending on where she gets stationed with Water Conservation after she graduates from college, it may be that we’ll end up buying her a 4WD mini-SUV, like a RAV4 or CR-V, in case of snow country.

            It depends on whether she gets stationed on the flat lands or in the mountains.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            The 2.0 Dart is the base engine on the smallest Dodge. That’s the very definition of econobox.

            I understand that the Dart isn’t the right car for you, or you the right owner for it, but I don’t get where you’re going with “get an econobox instead of a Dart.”

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            heavy handle, the Dart is “marketed” as an econobox but doesn’t quite make it there in a head-to-head comparison with the smaller, lighter competition. For one, it’s too big!

            Nor does the Dart have the acceleration, braking and handling characteristics of most its competition in the class.

            The Dart competes in the Compact category. The SUB-Compact class of the Yaris, Fit, etc is what I consider a true econobox.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Who cares about gas mileage?

        I’d say the half-million or so car buyers who forked over money for Civics, Corollas, Focuses, Cruzes, Elantras, etc, all cared…and the hundreds of thousands who bought hybrids or electrics of ANY kind all cared too.

        Everyone has their own car buying priority. Yours might not be fuel economy, but I’d say lots of people disagree with you, and their dollars are just as green as yours.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Mike, people buy what they choose to buy and what works for them. That’s not what’s at issue in this thread.

          What is at issue here is that the Dart has poor sales because it is trying to compete in an area with cars where the Dart does not excel.

          The Dart is bigger and heavier than many in the class, yet tries to achieve the same fuel economy as the gas sippers.

          The two are mutually exclusive.

          So then we have people whining about fuel economy while choosing to buy the biggest one in the market.

          It doesn’t make sense. If people want fuel economy, they should buy and seek it elsewhere. Buy something smaller, lighter.

          The Dart brings to market a certain attractiveness by its size. What works against it is its poor handling characteristics (the 2011 Elantra exceeds it in all categories), high price (the Mazda3 is less expensive, gives better gas mileage, handling, and value), and sluggish acceleration from a dead stop. Going WOT on the Dart blows the fuel economy all to hell.

          Bottom line, the actual buyers, like myself, place their money elsewhere.

          The only reason I read this topic is because we are shopping for a car/SUV in this size for my 21-yo grand daughter for when she graduates college in May.

          We looked at the Dart. Liked the Mazda3 a whole lot better, for less money!

          The Mazda3 has “better ingredients” and makes “a better pizza.”

          • 0 avatar

            Depends on what your doing with the car. The dart 1.4 turbo has a stumble off the line from the turbo but it has great passing power on the highway it also rides great and handles well. As I said before it’s a great road trip car, Even beating on it I managed to average over 35 mpg over a 1000 miles of commuting. I agree the power train is not quite right but I don’t think the car is havy enough for a v6 to be required it might be fun but even camry and accord are something like 90% 4 cyl largely due to gas mileage concerns.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Then why doesn’t the Mazda 3 dominate the segment? In fact, if you look at the 2013 sales figures, it’s not selling all that much better than the Dart is.

            The best selling car isn’t necessarily the BEST car. The worst selling car isn’t necessarily the WORST car. Reputation sells in this class, and in every other class, and for better or worse, neither Mazda nor Dodge has the same reputation as Honda or Toyota.

            Worth noting: Honda and Toyota got by with selling warmed-over, mediocre Civics and Corollas for YEARS on reputation alone.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Mike, the Mazda3 is in a dubious spot. It will never be a best-seller because it appeals only to a small segment of actual buyers.

            Contributing reasons for this are the general Mazda reputation of the past; the miniscule size of Mazda as a manufacturer vs Toyota and Honda; dealers are few and far between.

            But for those who seek a car in this segment, have a dealer nearby where they live, look for an “alive” driving experience, the Mazda3 is worth considering.

            I anticipate buying a Mazda3 for my grand daughter if she gets a job in the flat lands.

            If she is drafted for a job in the mountains after graduating from college, her new ride will more than likely be a Wrangler 4X4 Hardtop OR a Tacoma 4X4 Standard Cab Short Bed.

            Nothing fancy, but sure-footed in mud, snow and off-road capable.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          … repositioned under FreedMike…

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    The Dart has the double trouble of not having a good niche in one of the most competitive segments and in showroom competition. Buyers traditionally consider this a car in this segment for two reasons: they can’t afford anything bigger/nicer, or they want the fuel economy. The bang for the buck crowd that doesn’t prioritize mpg will inevitably go to the Avenger. Those looking for 35+ mpg won’t look at the Avenger, but then you have the competition to consider. Kia and Hyundai offer style and features with the best value. Toyota and Honda sell based on a reputation for reliability and intertia from repeat buyers. Ford and Mazda have the loyalty of enthusiasts and are generally the best driving vehicles in the segment; certainly better than the Dart. The Cruze is the refinement champ. Where does that leave room for Dodge and the Dart?

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Racetrack LED taillight champ?

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        They definitely earn that title

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Only as an extra-cost option on the Dart.

        “Hey, your racetrack lights on the trunk aren’t working.”

        “Uh… yeah, I’ll have to get that fixed.”

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Available racetrack LED taillight champ.

        • 0 avatar
          Thatkat09

          Im confused as to why its an option on every Dart though. I can understand if the base model didnt have the race track but why do the SXTs I keep seeing not have it either? Really makes the back end look sloppy in my opinion. For the refresh, it should be made standard or removed. They could pull a Saturn S-Series/L-Series and paint out the lights on the trunk for the lower trim models, that would at least look cleaner.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think the Dart’s niche in the C-segment is space. At least in terms of width, the car is somewhere between a compact and midsize. It also offers a more diverse selection of colors and features, compared to other companies that offer black or black with 2 trim levels.

      From what I’ve read, the Dart is very good in many areas. Unfortunately, powertrains aren’t one of them. The car is too heavy, and the gearing is too tall. There is the turbo lag issue with the 1.4T. Even the 2.4L is barely competitive. Chrysler/Fiat originally planned to call the GT an RT, but the engine was delayed and when it finally arrived Chrysler realized the power/weight was kinda sad, so they changed it to GT. While Chrysler was trying to get that engine to market, Mazda came out with similar power in a much lighter car, without pretending it was a sports car. And then there is the Focus ST…

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @burgersandbear – I think the Dart is caught in between the two segments if spaciousness is it’s selling point. It offers a worse driving experience and worse fuel economy than (smaller) the segment leaders (like Mazda and Ford), while offering less space than not significantly more expensive (although more lightly optioned) mid sized value leaders like the Altima, Sonata, and Mazda6.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yes, Mazda is making some good product, but worth noting: all things considered, the 3 and 6 are nowhere near being the leading sellers in their categories.

      http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mazda-reports-calendar-year-2013-sales-238620781.html

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        If you are comparing Mazda sales to those of any comparable Chrysler product, remember that Chrysler has a larger dealer network than Mazda. In rural Pennsylvania, for example, there are plenty of small towns with a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership. Mazda dealerships are far and few between in those areas, if they exist at all.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Sure, the dealer network explains some of it, but the fact remains that the Mazda 6 sold 43,000 units in 2013, but the Camry sold well over 400,000 units. Mazda moved about 120,000 3′s, but Toyota sold well over 300,000 Corollas.

          Mazda has the same basic issue Dodge does – it needs to rebuild its brand. I hope it can – the product deserves bigger sales numbers, that’s for sure.

  • avatar
    JKC

    I wonder if the car would have done better as a five door hatch, or as a wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Better? Highly doubt it. However, having an option for a hatch/wagon would have at least made it an option for those looking for such. If your sales are already low, it’s probably unwise to ignore any potential customer.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      There was a hatch version under development for US consumption that was going to be badged as a Chrysler. For some reason, it was canned at some point last year. At this point, I don’t think it would be a bad thing to just bring that car to market as a 5 door Dart.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Breaking news, consumers opt for reasonably priced midsize over expensive compact.

    Pretty ridiculous that the reason to end avenger sales it to replace it with a more expensive product in the hope another poorly performing product sees an uptick in sales.

    If a compact can’t be built for a price that doesn’t conflict with midsize, drop it. Why not try to improve the avenger while keeping such a competitive price, and attempting to get a larger segment of the midsize market.

    This reeks of what GM is doing to fullsize trucks in preparation of the midsize launch.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “If a compact can’t be built for a price that doesn’t conflict with midsize, drop it.”

      It can and is, the issue is that the price of the midsize offering is being dropped into compact territory.

      The 2015 200 is the Avenger replacement which won’t overlap with the Dart as much.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        What constitutes a price territory?

        If fiat can build a midsize and sell for 16k
        And build a compact and sell for 16k

        Then the consumer has a choice, more space and more power, or better refinement and handling. If consumers picks the larger car does that not mean the market would rather spend that 16k and get the most (space) for their money?
        I just think this argument has an overweighing tone of the situation being “unfair” to the smaller car. Which in my opinion is ridiculous, decisions are being made on preferences rather than market forces.

        Maybe people prefer the larger engine or space, the dart is considered “big” by some commenters beliefs, so throw a 3.6 Pentastar in it and see what happens.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “If a compact can’t be built for a price that doesn’t conflict with midsize, drop it.”

      The Dart doesn’t conflict with the pricing of any reasonably decent midsize car.

      It only conflicts with the Avenger because the latter is being blown out at horrible losses because it’s an utter piece of garbage.

      The Avenger will eventually sell out. The Dart’s real problem is the competition in its own segment, where the Dart is not a standout in any way.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Lets consider the other side, why is being a complete utter POS bad as long as its reliable?

        Everything built today has features once reserved for high end cars, the avenger is possibly the only cheap affordable car left. No one dreams of it, but if they need cheap affordable transportation that can accommodate them…. well why not?

        I can’t imagine it being sold at a loss, it would have been cancelled 3 years ago if it didn’t bring in something, and additionally it received resources to put the 3.6 into it, which who invests in a dead end?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “I can’t imagine it being sold at a loss, it would have been cancelled 3 years ago if it didn’t bring in something”

          Three years ago, it did bring in something — it wasn’t quite as overmatched in its segment (although it was the worst midsize even then), and it wasn’t selling for prices like $18k. That is why they continued production in 2011 but then stopped it in early 2014.

          “why is being a complete utter POS bad as long as its reliable?”

          Because people who need cheap, reliable transportation buy gently used cars. New car buyers are financially irrational to start with in almost all cases (yes, there are a few exceptions). They are buying because they like new shiny. Crappy new cars sold when the durability of cars was so poor that any used car could be expected to have a short lifespan. They don’t sell today, from any maker. And the fact that Chrysler has to put $8k on the hood of a $25k car to sell the last few Avengers trickling off the production line is proof.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            “I can’t imagine it being sold at a loss, it would have been cancelled 3 years ago if it didn’t bring in something”

            The tooling for the Avenger/200 was written-off years ago. They made this last batch for materials, labor and utilities. The Dart, on the other hand, has all-new tooling that’s still on the books.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Because people who need cheap, reliable transportation buy gently used cars.”

            This is more difficult to do than it sounds.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            None of this explains why the Versa is a success. Some people would rather have new junk with a warranty.

            “Because people who need cheap, reliable transportation buy gently used cars… They are buying because they like new shiny”

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      They are replacing the Avenger because unless they put their first-borns on the hood, they couldn’t move them out of the showroom. It was pretty universally panned as rental and fleet fodder – the only reason we are seeing ‘renewed’ interest is because it’s so cheap now that ‘value’ buyers don’t care about anything else.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    The dart is too large and they botched the launch configurations…its going to take time to recover from that if they can recover at all. They would have been better off rebirthing the neon by not straying too much from the base, the gulietta, than what the dart came out as. Also, Chrysler desperately needs a world class 4 cylinder to mate to the 9 speed that’s eventually coming to the dart.

    • 0 avatar

      OH DID they botch the launch! They delivered high content 6 speed manuals with sticker prices HIGHER than an auto trans well equipped Kia Optima. If you put the cars side by side, there is no comparison.

      Besides, Blake Griffin jumped over the Optima when he won the slam dunk contest. Who is the face of the DART? I’d really like to see the DART succeed as the Belvedere Assembly plant is in my old “back yard.”

      The plant started off building heavies. The state of IL used to buy their Polara squad cars through Grand Spaulding Dodge in Chicago, built at the plant. In an imaginative recycling move, Illinois’ own Ackroyd and Belushi bought a bunch back and crashed them in their break out movie.

      Sergio needed to build a small car in the U.S. to meet the terms he agreed to when Team Auto staked him to a 20% share of Chrysler in return for FIAT technology and expertise. For the most part, its worked out well, the DART notwithstanding. Kudos to FIAT for Multi Air and “Common Rail” technology.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s an interesting bit of movie trivia, thanks for sharing.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        “The state of IL used to buy their Polara squad cars through Grand Spaulding Dodge in Chicago, built at the plant. In an imaginative recycling move, Illinois’ own Ackroyd and Belushi bought a bunch back and crashed them in their break out movie.”

        They were ’74 Dodge Monacos, the sister car to my Plymouth Fury. I was tall and skinny at the time, my departed friend Curtiss was short and stocky; so when we saw “The Blues Brothers”; it became OUR movie. The cigarette lighter disappeared into the glove box instead of out the window, and we were on a “mission from God” until Curtiss passsed away in November 1982, if my memory is right. The Fury lived on until 86; when a fire started in the dashboard during a mechanic’s test drive and totaled it out.

        It was a former company car, complete with the plugs in the roof and trunk from the radio antennas, so it was a Bluesmobile in spirit as well. The shop gave Dad the same amount he first paid for it at the company auction; so he was pleased with that.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        That reminds me, the first Dart I ever saw was at a sponsored street festival. I’m not sure what the engine/trim level was, but it was an automatic with cloth seats. Window sticker: $27,***. I couldn’t help but laugh.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      In my opinion, a lightly modified for the US market Alfa Romeo Giulietta sold at Chrysler dealers would have been a better, more profitable car that meets the government 40 mpg small car agreement. They spent good money to convert a somewhat exotic and upscale small car into something with zero brand cachet and hundreds of pounds of added weight.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Last year I test drove both the 1.4T and 2.0 versions of the Dart with their available automatics/DDCTs and thought they were really good looking and quite good; I came away very impressed with the car overall and would like to own the 2.4. Last week I test drove a base model Buick Verano; that’s also a very good car and quite good looking, but it doesn’t do it for me.

    The thing is, I know some people are trying to say the Dart and Verano are competitors in the compact segment, but don’t see it as they’re trying to hit different markets segments. The Dart’s meant to be sporty while the Verano is meant to be luxurious and refined.

    • 0 avatar
      omer333

      The biggest problem with the price of the Dart is that its not priced to move. The Dodge dealers in the Monterey Bay area have a few 2013s that have been in their inventory since last summer and they’re not willing to knock anything off the sticker. But if you go up to various San Francisco Bay area dealers you can get discounts of $1000-$3500 of the sticker for a 2014 SXT.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Lots of problems here explain the Dart’s poor sales, in my opinion, but the most serious issue is Dodge’s bad rep in this segment. Consider this:

    1) When you “think Dodge,” what comes to mind (aside from the usual “junk” perception)? I think trucks, minivans, and Hemi Chargers and Challengers. I don’t think compacts at all. There’s a reason for that – the Dart is probably the first decent, class-competitive compact Dodge has made since the mid-1990s Neons. The Caliber was awful, and it replaced the second-gen Neon, which was mediocre at best. The Dart was walking into a VERY tough room.

    2) Toyota and Honda might have been able to sell the piss out of warmed-over, nice-but-not-great Corollas and Civics, but that was all on the strength of the models’ reputations. Even Ford got away with this with the mediocre 2008-11 Ford Focus – they sold the hell out of it, mainly on price and the coattails of the excellent 2000-06 models. Even Chevy had a somewhat-decent compact-car rep to build on with the Cruze. Dodge’s Dart predecessors were almost complete bombs, so it couldn’t get away with this kind of thing. The Dart needed to be an absolute home run of a car, and while it’s nice, it’s far from stellar.

    3) The Avenger’s negative sales impact on the Dart makes lots of sense. They refreshed it a couple of years before the Dart came out, and it emerged a pretty damn appealing car, particularly at the price. But again, Dodge’s lousy rep in this segment even plays into this phenomenon – why buy an unproven, brand-new compact from a company that has a history of making lousy compacts, when you can buy a bigger, more power, more proven product like an Avenger?

    It’ll be interesting to see what Dart sales do as the Avenger is phased out – my guess is they’ll go up, but the Dart won’t be a a real player in the segment until a generation or two down the line. Dodge has a LOT of catch up ball to play in this segment.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      I hear ya on your first point with regards to this segment. At one time Dodge could build an entry that would basically have to soldier against Ford and GM with AMC chasing the table scaps.

      In the 2014 Corolla segment there’s Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, GM, Hyundai and Kia getting first dibs at the table. As a brand, Dodge is chasing what’s left over.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I agree with Points 1 and 2. Regarding Point 3, I’d like to see a comparison of RETAIL sales of the Dart and Avenger. I have yet to see a new Avenger around here that didn’t have a rental car barcode in one of the windows. I’ve seen more than a few Darts without that telltale sticker.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        True, but even at retail, it’s still very close price-wise.

        I just optioned up an Avenger and a Dart with the top of the line sport packages, nav and sunroof. Net price after rebates for the V6 Avenger: $24500. Net price for the Dart: $23730.

        I’m no big fan of the Avenger, but I could sure see why the Dart would suffer sales-wise.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      The people who have Darts seem to like them a lot. That should count for something.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Dodge: a brand with status so low that it’s used in comedy as shorthand to say “loser”.

      Al Bundy on Dodge as a status symbol: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KnvrBmhUmE

      “I drive a Dodge Stratus”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2uUDkMYtrQ

      The Dodge brand has been the Dollar General of car brands for over a generation. Might as well euthanize “Dodge” and brand everything you can stuff a Hemi V8 into as “Mopar”.

  • avatar
    SayMyName

    It looks like the market has spoken, and will likely continue to do so. Without the Avenger ready for the price-conscious and credit-challenged to step over to, Fiatsler simply doesn’t have a reasonable offering in the sub-$20K price class.

    Maybe Dart v2.0 will be well-engineered and competitive; the first generation is an overpriced, unremarkable kludge job.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    I remember a review of the SRT4 Caliber compared to the HHR SS. Basically, the Caliber was the same crap wagon with a really hot engine, and it could deliver that performance in a straight line. It couldn’t brake, it couldn’t turn, and it still felt flimsy – but for that one moment, when the light went red to green, and you hadn’t skid through the intersection while braking, but could head straight down the road, it was more enjoyable to let it roar than the HHR SS.

    The Dart should have been sold with some form of 3.0L or higher V6 for performance and low-end hustle. I thought Chrysler was supposed to be able to change the volume on the Pentastar at will, and had made such low volume engines for export. 225 HP with low-end torque would have made this a real Dodge – cheap power.

    You don’t have to be Anthony Kiedis to want “hot dart acceleration”, which this did not deliver. Dodge has nothing else to offer.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      You’ll get your V6 Dart in a few months, with a bit more interior room to boot. It will just have a badge that says “Chrysler 200.”

      The problem is less the car itself (although it’s nothing special) than the pricing and marketing strategy.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    The reason the Dart is a flop, in a nutshell: fake stitching on vinyl, just like in a 72 Dart. The people who think that’s still OK are looking for the cheapest car on the lot.

    I almost test drove a Dart, love some of the exterior colors. Sat in it, no-sale. Couldn’t waste the salesman’s time or my own.

    It did this really freaky thing where, when I closed my eyes, everything fell neatly to hand (which I guess is from the Alfa platform), and when I opened them I saw the Volaré that my grandmother didn’t buy in 1979. She ended-up with a Malibu, wasn’t any better.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    A car built by two of the worst automakers on Earth. What could go wrong?

    The Edmunds long term Dart has been a complete turd.

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      Boy, you ain’t kidding. So far they’ve had:

      - rear door bolt not fully screwed in and nearly popped out of the door skin
      - a windshield spontaneously crack on the inside, very odd and rare.
      - outside door handle break when pulled
      - a fender clip pop out at speed
      - a throttle malfunction
      - and a complete breakdown preventing the car from reaching highway speeds which was the result of a spark plug destructing preventing a cylinder from firing.

      All within the first 15,000 miles of use.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Autoweek has had problems with its long-term Dart, although they haven’t been as serious as those experienced by the Edmunds.com crew.

        Within 18,000 miles, the check-engine light has come on several times (and not because of a loose gas cap), an overboost condition reduced the car’s power and the clutch has been troublesome.

      • 0 avatar
        Carfan94

        Don’t forget the trunk spikes! You can always depend on Chrysler to put spikes in the trunk to cut your hand while rearranging cargo!

        http://www.edmunds.com/dodge/dart/2013/long-term-road-test/2013-dodge-dart-beware-of-trunk-spikes.html

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      Any word on what happened to the Edmunds Dart after it broke down on the way to SF?

      Speaking of turds – Edmunds Long Term Tests site.

      • 0 avatar
        salhany

        They said it was a cylinder misfire caused by a spark plug decomposing. Or something. They haven’t been great at timely updates lately.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I’ve been complaining bitterly over there. I’m guessing the engine was toast after it ate the spark plug, but Edmunds refuses to tell all – or anything. The problems on their vehicle were astonishing.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          The Edmunds site is a complete waste of time now. They want to be a consumer utility website, not an enthusiast blog, but don’t have the honesty to just kill their long-term test pages altogether.

          That Dart engine issue should have been thoroughly explained if they had any integrity left. Protecting press fleet privileges perhaps.

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          The guy said he continued to drive it when it was misfiring all the way to SF from LA.

          No doubt they screwed up more than just a spark plug. Ever since they changed the format, I’ve hated reading stuff over there. And they’ve been quiet on the Dart and won’t spill the beans.

        • 0 avatar
          SayMyName

          I just saw their say-nothing “summary” of the Dart. Good to see the commenters calling Edmunds out for it, too.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    I was uncomfortable in the Dart, and I like cockpit style seating. My leg resting on the center console was its undoing. I found a Sentra rental a much more enjoyable experience.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Last year, Jim Hall at Autoline did a decent job of addressing some of the issues:

    -Flawed marketing (it wasn’t clear from the advertising that this was a compact, i.e. a Civic/ Corolla alternative)

    -Wrong name (Neon would have been more recognizable than Dart)

    -Uphill battle (the Caliber was a brand killer, which made this launch more difficult than most)

    http://www.autoline.tv/journal/?p=27356

    Hall misses the product issues (meh drivetrain, etc.) and the excessive mix of manuals when the car was first launched (this isn’t Europe, guys), which only made things worse. Mopar nicht über alles.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      The Neon was more recognizable, but for all the wrong reasons.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      There is no way I’d have named the Dart “Neon” instead. Talk about your flawed brand!

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I was never a fan of the Neon myself, but they were popular cars that sold well and developed a following.

        Perhaps more importantly, the nameplate was used recently enough that many people would immediately presume that a new Neon is a compact (which it would be in this case.)

        The problem with “Dart” is that it conveys little meaning. It not only lacks heritage, but it also fails to tell people what to expect. The greatest risk on the marketing front is that customers don’t even figure out what the car is or why they might be interested in it.

        Calling it a Dart requires the marketers to teach people what a Dart is, and they haven’t done that. Unless a nameplate becomes attached to a complete disaster (Pinto, Vega, etc.), it’s better to keep a name and improve upon it than it is to start from scratch.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Well, yes, the Neon did have a following, but it gained it on price and styling, and lost it on reliability and general “cheapness” issues (and horrific safety ratings).

          Probably explains why Dodge went for a different name (that, and the ’60s nostalgia).

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “Mopar nicht über alles”

      Buckhead Bill is rather silent. This is a difficult article to spin in a positive light.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    Malibu & the ancient WImpala did the same thing for years…didn’t seem to bother GM. Actually they are still doing it now except they moved the Impala up in price.

    The big suprise to me is Chrysler canned the Avenger? They sell them around here like hotcakes….smh…

  • avatar
    Dan

    It’s called the economy segment for a reason. Nobody aspires to these cars. They buy them because they’re afraid of or unable to finance used and can’t afford anything better new.

    With Dodge resale, Fiat build quality, and 27 mpg on the window sticker in the only trim that isn’t outright horrible to drive where’s the economy?

    Exactly.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      While true that nobody aspires to these cars, I don’t think anyone aspires to anything that starts at less than $30k. Midsize and large cars starting under $30k are generally nothing special either.

      That said, there are plenty of reasons to buy a small car besides not being able to afford anything else. Not everyone wants to drive something that barely fits in a standard parking space or carport/garage. Modern C-segment cars (Dart’s class) are also well equipped to the point that the terms “econobox” and “penalty box” are no longer appropriate.

      Personally, I would prefer a Focus or Mazda3 to a Fusion or Mazda6.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Strongly disagree. Relative to the real world benchmark of the two generations back edition of the same item that most people already drive, a $25,000 Camcord, ditto Rav, CRV, etc, is a genuinely nice car. They’re only blah if you do something stupid like hold them against the $500 a month perpetual European lease, a problem that relatively few people have.

        Anyway, the compacts don’t pass that test. They’re less bad than they were but it takes about two seconds in that benchmark 10 year old Accord, 100,000 miles of wear and all, to make the entire 2014 class a clear downgrade. They’re all cramped, most of them are noisy and weak, they’re no fun to drive with skinny eco tires, dead electric steering, economy transmissions.

        If the best you can come up with is that an extra 10 inches of Accord is somehow too big to park then the Dart’s sales failure should make a lot of sense.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          Almost all those issues that you mention are also commonly found in modern midsize cars (where they are often amplified due to their larger sizes and heft), and most people aspire to buy a new car, not a 10 year old, 100,000 mile car.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            The cramped noisy and weak are nowhere to be found in Camcord land.

            Fun to drive isn’t either but you can count the people who care about that on one hand.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I believe there are plenty of people who are accustomed to buying used who aspire to buy new, and their first car is likely to be a compact under $20k.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    I also have a very hard time believing the excuse that the Avenger is eating Dart sales. I don’t care how much cash they put on the hood, there is no way I’d go home with an Avenger and after a short test drive, anybody who doesn’t have their head up their butt will most likely feel the same.

    They at least put a little bit of effort into the Dart and it looks better. I can’t even picture someone walking into a Dodge dealer and willingly signing a check for a Dodge freaking Avenger.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      +1 Thank you for saying that.

      This quote in the article “then we’ll get a better sense where the interest is in the Dart” is just not correct. The Dart is already a bust; we don’t need another 6 months to know it. And I don’t care how much they want to discount an Avenger, it’s a nasty-looking car that I’d never take home.

  • avatar
    hifi

    Let’s be clear, the Avenger isn’t siphoning sales away from the Dart. The Avenger itself sells very poorly, and it’s a lame duck anyway. If the awful, ugly, uncompetitive Avenger can cannibalize sales in that way, it doesn’t bode well for the Dart. Even if it were true, no brand has ever struggled by having too many good products in the showroom. The problem here is that Dodge, arguably, doesn’t have any good products in their showroom.

    All the car pubs were gushing over the Dart. The entire time I thought the exterior looked like a dowdy relic from the 90s. This is a car is intended as a first car for young buyers. People who want generic and anonymous will always buy a Toyota or Honda. They are the only two brands that have been successful at selling generic and anonymous vehicles.

  • avatar
    brettc

    We briefly looked at the Dart before recently buying a 2014 Jetta SE. I loved the colours they offer them in and the amount of options was so good, it was overwhelming. Plus there was the fact that the special ordered cars were something like a 2 month wait. So we ended up buying a Jetta because we’re used to VWs and the Dart had various things going against it like the weak/thirsty engine options on the dealer lot. Plus my wife said the car smelled like cheap plastic and that was even before the door was opened. (She’s really sensitive to smells). So we bought the Dart’s poorly selling cousin. In the end the wife made the final call and she was not fond of the Dart so no Dart for us!

  • avatar
    roadscholar

    Almost 22K miles of driving like I stole it on my 2013 Limited 1.4L/6M and no problems. Reminds me of a European sports sedan minus the 20 or 30 hp it needs but very quiet and comfy at high speed on the highway. Fun to drive but, yes, I do have to wind it up to go anywhere. Wonder if I can put a VW 2.0T in it. The seat/driving position fits me very well and I’m 6’7″. All in all happy with the car.

  • avatar
    koreancowboy

    People would have snapped this up, if this was the direct replacement for the Neon back in 2005.

    But alas, it is 2014, and virtually everything in this segment has already passed this by…they’re going to need a tonne of incentives to move this.

  • avatar
    DIYer

    Bought a 2013 Dart Aero 1.4T 6-spd manual exactly 1 year ago today. This is the high-mileage version of the Dart, definitely not a hot rod. It’s the most economical car I’ve had, getting 40 mpg on a consistent basis. Took it out West to the Tetons and Yellowstone camping last May, no problems to date. Probably will take it out West again this year, maybe Yosemite, King’s Canyon and Sequoia.


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