By on June 10, 2014

A while back Chrysler loaned me a Dodge Dart Limited with the 2.0 liter Tigershark engine and six-speed automatic transmission for the purpose of writing a review. That’s how it works, they loan you the car, you write the review. A social contract, if you will. In this case, however, though I drove the car for a week and took scores of photos and copious notes, I decided not to write the review at the time. That sort of behavior comes with some risk, particularly if the next time you ask for a press car and they ask for a link to your last review. I had my reasons for putting off the review, and now that I’ve driven a Dart with the larger 2.4 liter motor, I’m glad that I waited, and I think Chrysler should be glad that I waited as well.

I’ll explain all that gladness in Part Two, my review of the 2014 Dodge Dart GT 2.4 L, but everything has a backstory.

Why didn’t I write the review? To begin with, I don’t particularly like to say what everyone else is saying, even if I may agree. I don’t need to add my voice to an echo chorus. If I don’t have something original to say, why bother with “me too”?

What everyone else was saying was that the combination of the 2 liter engine with the automatic resulted in rather canine behavior and we’re not talkin’ greyhounds here. The fact that the Dart with the two liter engine and slushbox is a dog has been attested to by most reviewers and it’s hardly any secret with Chrysler folks too. Detroit is a place where you might run into a decision maker in the auto industry at the grocery when out to buy bread and milk for your mom and where the Dart you park next to might very well have been bought by an engineer on an employee discount. Whenever I mention to Chrysler folks about that drivetrain being a slug, they sort of shrug their shoulders and smile sheepishly.

After my week with the Dart Limited 2.0L/6AT, I wanted to check out the Dart with the larger 2.4L engine. Unfortunatley, there weren’t very many of those made in the Dart’s early production mix. That’s another reason why I’ve waited to write this review. I wasn’t sure just how representative the car I tested was of the Darts you’d be able to buy going forward. I knew that months before I got the test car Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne admitted that the 2.0L/6AT and the Fiat 1.4 Multiair Turbo powertrains “were not the ideal solution,” and a company spokesperson said that the production mix would be rebalanced as 2.4 L engine production ramped up at the company’s Dundee, Michigan engine plant. The production mix has indeed changed and the 2.4 liter is now installed in the majority of Darts. The 2.0 liter is now only available in the base SE car and the 1.4 turbo shared with the Fiat 500 is only offered on the Dart Aero. In that sense I was correct, the car that I’m describing to you is not representative of what you can buy. In fact, you can’t even buy a 2014 Dart Limited with the 2.0.

So why write the review now? Well, to begin with the drivetrain is still available on the Dart, if not with the same high trim level. Also, as it turns out, I think the basic car is pretty decent, even better than that, and some buyers, out of a sense of frugality or budget realities, might decide to buy the Dart SE, thinking that they’ll get a nice car, and save money both on the purchase and on gasoline. As you’ll see, though, the 2.0 liter may be a false economy. Finally, reviewing this car puts the upcoming Dart GT review in context and much of this review will also still be relevant to those considering a Dart Limited.

The problem as I see it isn’t how much power that engine has, or doesn’t have. With 160 hp, it’s not going to be a speed demon but under normal circumstances with that much power in a slightly chubby compact car you should be fine in traffic and on the highway. However, every combination of engine and transmission these days seems to be calibrated to yield maximum Ms per G on the EPA test cycle, not maximum driveability. The 2.0L/6AT combination is EPA rated at 25/36 and it seems calibrated to get into the highest gear ratio as quickly as possible, meaning you’re in a higher gear before you ever get to the meaty part of the power curve.

I tend to treat “it was so slow as to be unsafe in traffic” reviews with some skepticism because 20 year old Hondas and Camrys can keep up with traffic just fine, even today when 300+ horsepower cars are commonplace. However, the way the 2.0/6AT combo drove, I genuinely felt nervous when trying to zip into a spot in traffic or when merging onto the freeway. I love a good stick shift, but I’ve never warmed to using paddle shifters or manually shifting with automatic transmissions. I figure that ZF et al know more about shifting than I do. Still, with this Dart I discovered that I had to autostick it to force the car to hold a gear long enough to be able to get on top of it and accelerate safely in traffic.

I also discovered why the transmission and engine are mapped the way they are. Leaving the car to its own devices in mixed suburban driving I was getting an indicated gas mileage in the high twenty-nines, but when I started shifting myself that dropped to about 26.5 mpg.

I really wanted to like the car. Based on the Compact U.S. Wide platform that Chrysler’s engineers in Auburn Hills derived from Fiat’s C-Evo platform first seen under the current Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the Dart feels spacious, at least for front seat passengers. Wide is no misnomer, there’s an airy feel to the cabin from behind the wheel. The belt line sweeps up towards the rear of the car but at the driver’s window it’s almost low enough for resting your elbow. Because of that rising belt line, though, rear passengers might feel a bit more closed in.

Visibility for the driver is pretty good, except for the fact that the hood slopes down sharply and you can’t see the front corners. Sajeev Mehta will rejoice at the Day Light Opening (DLO) win, as small triangular windows behind the rear door glass provide a clear look at your blind spots over your shoulders. They also help keep rear passengers from getting claustrophobic from the high belt line in back. Speaking of DLO, there is some DLO fail around the mirror and A pillar, with a black plastic insert.

Speaking of black plastic, there’s a variety of black colored and textured polymers at play in the interior. Most of the surfaces that you’d come into contact with, though, are of the soft touch kind.

Everything up front was properly ergonomic, with Chrysler’s industry leading 8.4″ UConnect touchscreen well integrated visually with the configurable display that sits directly in front of the driver. I thought the default red color scheme of the liquid crystal displays was a bit garish, compared to the cooler blue scheme on the Chrysler 300S I’d had the week before, but that’s just a matter of personal taste. YMMV. The instrument panel is surrounded by a band of red trim that lights up subtly when the headlights are on. It’s a nice touch in this class of car, providing you like red.

Chrysler is big on their sliding console storage bin in the company’s minivans. I think that’s where they got the idea for a two position armrest on top of the console storage bin. Whichever position you slide it to, when you open it, you’ll find a USB port, a 1/8″ AUX port, and, what is getting to be a rarity these days, a CD drive.

The 60/40 fold-down back seat features a console that flips down from the seat back and contains cupholders and a storage bin. When that console is flipped down, it reveals the hatch for passing though long items that are being stored in the trunk, like skis.

I thought the rear seat was roomy enough but then I’m a 5’6 tall guy with a 28″ inseam. I was left with about 3″ of headroom and about 5″ of knee room. Will it Zayde? Yes, I had no problems getting my grandson’s rear facing car seat in the Dart. There are child seat latch anchors on the back deck for all three rear seat positions.

In Limited trim, the Dart had most of the features most drivers will want, in fact, most of the options offered on the car – it was pretty loaded. With the Technology Group, Premium Group, automatic transmission, UConnect and a few odds and ends, it stickered out to $25,190, including a $795 destination charge.

The seats were full leather and quite comfortable. They feature the now ubiquitous contrasting detail stitching. The passenger seat has a hidden storage compartment under the hinged seat squab for stowing small valuables.

Visually, to my tastes it’s an attractive car, sort of a muscular and squat wedge. Car companies are putting more style into their mass market compact sedans. There’s a lot of sheet metal contouring happening on the hood and around the front end that you probably wouldn’t have seen a few years ago in a class of cars that American’s have considered to be economy cars. On the outside, the Dart looks more expensive than it is.

I like the way the headlamp lenses stand proud of the fender and the rear end goes together in harmony, with an integrated. duck tail spoiler. The rear end also features a version of the Dodge Charger’s brand identifying full-width LED tail-lights. I think that the smarter designers today are using the flexibility of LED and other modern lighting technology to make a brand statement in the dark of night as well as in the light of the day.

Other than acceleration, what’s it like to drive? The Dart wants to handle. Those Alfa genes are strong. The problem is that under normal driving, letting the car shift for itself, the drivetrain’s lack of acceleration compromises the handling. You can dive bomb into a corner and it holds the line just fine, but when you want to power through the exit letting front wheel drive understeer help straighten the car out, there’s just no there there.

At first I was struck at some obvious price-pointing, but I realized that impression was biased by the fact that when they dropped off the Dart, they picked up that Chrysler 300S AWD with a Hemi, a car whose base price is almost double that of a stripper $16K Dart. While there’s indeed $14,000 worth of visible and tactile difference between the Dart and the 300, the Dart feels solid and has a fairly comfortable ride for a compact. The test car was equipped with 17″ X 7.5″ aluminum wheels mounted with 225/45 R17 Continental ContiproContact tires.

There was one visible quality control issue, a surprising one. While doing the photo shoot I noticed something I haven’t seen in a long time, a paint “run”, a drip at least an inch long near one of the rocker panels. I worked at a DuPont automotive paint lab from 1982 into the 21st century and I haven’t seen a visible paint defect that bad since the early 1990s. To be fair, the rest of the paint, and the rest of the Dart seemed to be defect free.

I noticed something else that, no pun intended, touches on quality control, or at least attention to detail, while doing the photo shoot. If you have to open the hood and the engine is hot, make sure that you’re wearing an oven mitt or using something else to protect your hand before you grab the prop rod that holds up the open hood. When stowed, the prop rod sits right above the radiator and it gets very hot.

I had high hopes for the Dart but as equipped with the 2.0L/6AT powertrain it left me disappointed. I thought the revival of the nameplate was brilliant, with many Americans holding fond memories of a reliable, inexpensive compact American car, powered by the almost indestructible Slant Six. I also knew that when they have tried, eg. Neon, the boffins in Auburn Hills know how to make a compact car, even if the company as a whole didn’t quite get the continuous improvement thing. I think that they still know how to make a decent small car, but my first encounter with the Dart suffered from expectations not met. So much so that it was my choice as my least favorite test car of 2013. Yep, not only did I not review a loaned car, I slagged it off at the end of the year. I suppose that also risked some displeasure of the folks in Auburn Hills, but they can’t complain that much since in that same end-of-year wrap up I also said that the Chrysler 300S AWD Hemi was my favorite car of 2013.

Maybe all that stuff about ticking off car companies with negative reviews is a bit exaggerated, because despite doing somethings that wouldn’t necessarily curry favor with them, the folks at Chrysler approved it when I asked the fleet company if they had a 2.4 liter Dart for me to try. We’ll look at that car, a GT model, in Part Two.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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77 Comments on “Car Review: A Tale of Two Darts, Part the First – 2013 Dodge Dart Limited 2.0 L...”


  • avatar
    VoGo

    I rented one a month ago to go from NYC to Boston on a rainy Friday night (the shuttle was grounded by rainstorms).

    Obviously, I got the rental grade Dart, and was unimpressed. It felt like a grown up Neon, structurally stiffer, less obviously built for price, but by no means 20 years ahead of where the Neon started. And without the fun-to-drive characteristics of the Neon, since presumably the Dart is stiffer from the addition of several hundred pounds of steel.

    I meant to prop open the hood to see what engine was droning with so much fury and so little fast for 6 hours, but by the time I got to Boston, I was too tired to care.

    It’s an OK car, and if I were on a budget and could get one for $15K, that would seem reasonable. But if the Limited goes for $25K, that’s pretty close to Accord EX territory, and this Fiat/Dodge is no Honda Accord.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Were you ever bothered by sun glare from the shiny black interior trim? Did sunlight wash out the UConnect screen and/or instrument cluster? There’s a cockpit photo up there that seems to suggest “yes” on both counts, but that’s just a photo.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Why not test a 2.4L with a 6 speed manual?

    How about a review of a 4 speed automatic Corolla for balance?

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      He already reviewed a Corolla.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/capsule-review-2014-toyota-corolla/

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        TTAC didn’t review the TRDyota Corolla with 4 speed automatic but now reviews a Dart Limited with 2.0L that isn’t even offered anymore. Typical TTAC trolling against Chrysler.

        How about a drag race between the Stick shift Verano and a Dart 2.4L six speed?

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Typical TTAC trolling against Chrysler.”

          So when Ronnie posts a glowing review of the Dart GT tomorrow, what will you be saying?

          This was also a press car, so he didn’t pick it. Plus, the end of the article says he asked for a 2.4L Dart so he obviously wanted to give the car another chance. AND he says the 300S V8 was his favorite car of 2013.

          Did you even read this?

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Jack reviewed a 2013 and hated it:
          http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/corolling-in-the-deep/

          What more do you want other than brainwashed vows of allegiance for your favorite brand?
          Probably still wouldn’t be happy if it wasn’t done with sufficient fervor.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “Why not test a 2.4L with a 6 speed manual?”

      Motortrend just did. Took 8.7 seconds to reach 60. For a car with a GT badge that gets only 31mpg highway. Granted that was an automatic but still not very impressive for the top engine option. Dodge had 3 tries to get the powertrain right in the Dart and it looks like with the 2.4 they’ve finally achieved “adequate”

      “How about a review of a 4 speed automatic Corolla for balance?”

      It’s been done. No one likes it. Is it really Mopar uber alles if you have to locate a 4spd Corolla to find something worse?

      • 0 avatar
        Sam Hell Jr

        In fairness, the “big” I4 engines usually need a CVT to ace the EPA testing. Back in the real world … the comparable Toyota I4 with a 6A, in many applications, is only rated for low 30s hwy, but in several different vehicles I’ve seen that setup punt out real-world mid- to high-30s.

        The difference, in my experience, is that with a slushbox you have to exercise some discretion to get the big MPG numbers, whereas the CVTs generate that kind of economy with what appears to be dark sorcery.

        What I can’t figure out is why small cars with big 4s tend to underperform family sedans with the same guts in mileage. Tires? Aero issue?

        Also: not that I’d contest that ~9 seconds is an unimpressive number for a 184-hp small-ish car, but the raison d’etre of this powertrain is more on-ramps/passing lane giddyup and low-stress cruising than in 0-60. Grand *Touring*, no?

        Again, not that any of this necessarily undermines your criticisms of this specific model.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Motor Trend test drove a Dart 6 speed automatic and the tester said,

        Relative to the 1.4-liter we tested in our last Dart, the 2.4-liter’s engine note is far more pleasing, and the conventional automatic performs well. Dodge sells its performance and mass at the lowest rates: $137/hp and $7.63/lb. Its weight-to-power ratio ranks third best, and Febbo declared the Tigershark “probably the best naturally aspirated engine in the group. Never really feels like it’s struggling,” though he took issue with its overly aggressive throttle tip-in and the lack of a transmission sport mode. “”Anything trying this hard to be sporty needs a sport mode and shift paddles.” Despite gearing that’s about neck and neck with the Jetta for shortest, acceleration ends up mid-pack, with the 60-mph dash taking 8.7 seconds. Basically, this is a horses-up-high engine, as opposed to the torque-down-low turbo approach VW offers in our Jetta. Kong noted, “Good power for the class with a lot of engine noise thrown in for free,” and Evans noted some driveline lash in on/off throttle conditions in town.”

        Read more: http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1404_2014_compact_sedans_the_big_test/#ixzz34IUeCUR4

        And they also said this.
        The Corolla’s sole performance brag is this: Despite having the least power and torque and the tallest gearing, it outdragged the Elantra with a 9.3-second 0-60 time, all the while broadcasting an anemic and pitiful exhaust note. Toyota could learn a lot from Honda about CVT tuning if/when delighting drivers becomes a corporate priority. Maximizing fuel economy was the apparent goal here, as the tall gearing and broadest ratio spread attest. Evans found the Corolla’s CVT to change ratios less smoothly than the Honda’s. At least the CVT is an immense improvement over the hoary four-speed auto it replaces.

        Read more: http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1404_2014_compact_sedans_the_big_test/#ixzz34IUohVRB

        I guess Motor Trend didn’t have to find TRDyota’s antique drivetrain to find something worse.

        Bust on Darts weight but factor this in as well.
        “Only the Dart weighed in above that figure, which, along with its “acceptable” small-offset rating and a five-star overall NHTSA ranking, puts it among the top-3 percent of safest vehicles, per Informedforlife.org.”

        Read more: http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1404_2014_compact_sedans_the_big_test/safety.html#ixzz34IVZgjjG

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Bill, you’re being dense. My original point is that you are so desperate to justify the 2.0 Tigershark’s deficiencies that you have to look at the bottom feeder 132hp Corolla engine to find one worse. Nothing you quoted changes that. And since MT tested the 2.4 and not the 2.0 in question here, what point, exactly, did you think you were making?

          The Dart placed last in that comparo. Last. As in, opposite of first and behind even the Corolla. I don’t agree with their criteria, but considering how poorly the Dart sells, the market apparently does.

          I know, I know, typical free market consumer trolling against Chrysler. But whaddya gonna do?

          • 0 avatar
            billfrombuckhead

            The free market that has made Chrysler the fatest growing car company in California the last couple of years?

            Mopar will figure out the compact car market just like they did the pickup truck market.

            Lot of sour grapes around here from the RWWJ ideologues who preuidcted Chrysler would go away and instead has had 50 months of big sales increaes.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            It’s amazing what a bankruptcy, federal bailout and purchase by a foreign company can accomplish.

            Also amazing how a nice new product run can make loyalists forget the years of crap foisted on us. Glad you *finally* have something to be proud of.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            I’m pretty sure that those sales increases have been driven by Jeeps and the Ram, not by the Dart.

            Chrysler may eventually figure out this market segment, but it’s not as though GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and Toyota are going to sit around, twiddling their corporate thumbs, while it does so.

  • avatar

    Had a manual one traded in at the dealership and I was underwhelmed by it’s power compared to the similar powered Focus. I do think the style is distinctly American and I always with Mopar the best! The seats in the test model above do look decidedly nicer than most others in it’s class.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    The more I read and hear about this car, the more unimpressed I am.

    Two out of the three models (rather, two out of the three model’s powerplants) should not be so sluggish to the point where they are dangerous to weave in and out of traffic, et cetera. That’s truly disappointing.

    I really want to like this car. It’s a good looking sunuvab*tch, and the Alfa Pedigree make it all the more interesting.

    And a drip in the paint? LOL. I haven’t seen any serious paint flaws on par with that since I pointed out a human hair in a Fox-Bodied Mustang’s factory clearcoat.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      The 1.4L turbo with a manual is not sluggish in traffic if you leave it in the appropriate gear that keeps the engine near the RPM where the turbo rolls into boost (around 2,400 RPM). Either that or be prepared to drop out of 6th and put it in 4th. That’s the nice thing about a manual – you are in control…not some computer hell bent on achieving maximum fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Go drive a 6 speed 2.4L Dart for yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        Nobody has a 6-speed manual around here, but I’ve driven an automatic 2.4L GT. Didn’t care for it. My 1.4L will smoke it all day long and get better mileage to boot.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    This is fine review that tells me exactly what I need to know, little I don’t, and is well-clear of both puff and exaggerated lambasting.

    You have to wish the person who delayed the Cherokee intro could have also put the brakes on the Dart. If the 2.0 is utterly inadequate, they should have held the launch until the 2.5 was more widely available and the 2.0 was only put on rental-fleet strippers. Putting a horrible engine/transmission combo in the press fleet (and most of your launch cars) is car-intro suicide, isn’t it? They could have drawn on the utter disaster of the Malibu launch, which had pretty much the same problem. (Yes, I know the Malibu is a GM product, but it was close enough to be a good example.)

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “This is fine review that tells me exactly what I need to know, little I don’t, and is well-clear of both puff and exaggerated lambasting.”

      +1

      Very well done, Ronnie.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      I think Fiat was under the gun to get the car to market to make certain deadlines it made in order to buy Chrysler, like having a compact car in production that could achieve 40 MPG’s. That’s why the Dart wasn’t quite ready for prime time when it was introduced.

  • avatar
    ant

    I like the way these things look. Good looking car.

    Dodge offers some pretty nifty colors as well.

    Having so many different engines seems rather unfocused to me.

    I have not had good luck with doge products in the past.

  • avatar
    Marko

    I hope the new 200′s release goes better.

  • avatar

    My dealership was selling one with Nav and moonroof and manual seats BRAND NEW – For $18,000.

    I’d buy it or a Sonata.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      They’re also selling the 2014 200 Limited for less than $18K. Chrysler is selling cars for one-third off sticker, and that tells me all I need to know about the brand.

      • 0 avatar

        The competition nowadays from Nissan, Hyundai, Toyota and Honda is so stiff that they have to mark em down.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Nissan, Toyota, Hyundai and Honda don’t put $9K on the hood of a midsized sedan. Chrysler marks them down because they suck, and it’s the only way to move them.

          • 0 avatar
            StaysCrunchy

            I don’t know why, but I always used to hate it when people poured so much hate on a company on the internet like that. Logically I know that a multibillion dollar corporation doesn’t need me to defend them or make excuses for them, but I still couldnt help but feel that way regardless. Having said that, the hate poured on this particular company and this car especially is well deserved, and I fully endorse it. The Dodge Dart has turned this once-loyal Dodge fan to its most passionate and outspoken critic. This car is hot garbage, Chrysler has learned nothing. If this car represents Dodges future, it is a dystopian future indeed.

          • 0 avatar

            Even with all the crap you guys are talking about the DART, I haven’t met anyone that didn’t love it.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            TSS,
            Did you read the first comment? That’s not love.

          • 0 avatar
            StaysCrunchy

            Well, you and I have never met, so technically that’s true. But I’m here to tell you, this former Dart owner and former flag-waving card-carrying Dodge fanboy thinks the car is hot garbage on four wheels. If I could have pushed it into the Puget Sound I would have.

          • 0 avatar
            alsorl

            Vogo a smart a$$ comment on this site does not justify the quality or lack of quality in an auto. Especially when most are anti American rants about American auto makers.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Alsorl,
            1. the reference was to the first comment, which was my quick assessment of a Dart I rented. Unimpressive.
            2. The 2014 200 is universally viewed as a lousy car, a generation or two behind other midsized cars. That’s not my smarta$$ comment, it’s fact. Otherwise, dealers would not have to discount them so much to move the metal.
            3. FCA is not American.
            4. I have never made an anti-American rant.

            But otherwise, great comment!

          • 0 avatar
            billfrombuckhead

            Chrysler doesn’t have $9000 either. Edmunds list $5000 on 2014 top of the line Touring models.
            http://www.edmunds.com/chrysler/200/2014/car-incentives.html?style=200476137&irr_section=customer_rebates_irr

            If you have such a strong argument, why make stuff up?

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        They are blowing out the old 2014 200′s to make way for the new 2015 200. Not surprising that they are discounting them that much, really.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          So is Hyundai with the new Sonata here, and Toyota with the updated Camry coming.

          Show me a new 2014 Sonata or Camry with $9K on the hood.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            But even Chrysler knows the old 200 is a lame duck – it was a stopgap car to fill a void until they could do something better, and in that capacity it did pretty well considering what it was based on.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Nice review Ronnie.

    Were those pictures taken at Rackham?

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks. Yes, that’s in front of the Albert Kahn designed clubhouse at Rackham golf course, a gift to the people of Detroit from Horace Rackham, Henry Ford’s lawyer and an early investor in FoMoCo. It makes a nice backdrop.

  • avatar
    Nico

    “I tend to treat “it was so slow as to be unsafe in traffic” reviews with some skepticism because 20 year old Hondas and Camrys can keep up with traffic just fine, even today when 300+ horsepower cars are commonplace.”

    Me too. That’s why I find it hard to believe that a 2 liter car with 160+ HP has any trouble keeping up with traffic, no matter what gearbox it has. And I grew up driving cars with under 100 HP / 100 lb-ft in a country where the top speed is legally 80mph but no one drives that slow.

    Slower than the average current american car? Ok. Unsafe? C’mon…

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      In fairness, a late-model car is going to be a lot heavier than the vehicles you grew up with. Having said that, I agree that a modern NA 2.0L I4 should be enough to keep even a fairly large vehicle motivated.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Most people don’t remember the crap we had to drive in the 1980′s. Diesel Chevettes without a turbo, full-size cars with wheezy inline sixes with a 1-barrel carburetor. 0-60 in 12-15 seconds? Fairly normal back then. Today a slow car is one that does 0-60 in 9.5-10 seconds. That would have been a rocketship in the era I grew up in.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If it is faster than the 40′+ coaches I drove part-time 25 years ago, it is fast enough to merge safely – and I never had a problem merging in a coach with a 0-60 time measureable with a sundial. I’ve also never had trouble merging in such rocketships as a 57hp Peugeot 504D or a 78hp MB 300TD – cars that weigh as much as a Dart. Put your foot in it and GO! Or buy one with a stick – they work much better than automatics in normally powered cars.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I have to chuckle when low to mid 9 second 0-60 cars are thought of as unsafe or super sluggish. I grew up in high school with an 85 HP 200 six Fairmont sedan with automatic and it was a 13 second 0-60 car. In normal driving it was adequate but the more you floored it the more noise it made with little in the way of greater speed. How about those 105 HP 260 V8 Cutlass Supremes or better yet a 125 HP HT 4100 Deville from 1982. Can you say 15 second 0-60 times! I remember a high school bud that drove a 1981 Toyota Corolla automatic that was so slow it’s top speed was only 85 MPH on a flat non windy road. That car was in the 18 second 0-60 range! Chevette’s, diesel Rabbit’s, Bugs and Buses. You were lucky to maintain 60 MPH in those if any incline was encountered. Today’s generation have it made as far as performance goes. A 1980-1983 mid size 3300-3400 LB Dodge Mirada or Diplomat had to make due with a 90 HP Slant Six. Many of those old engines made more torque than today’s little 4 cylinder engines but much of that was wasted through inefficient 3 speed transmissions and highway cruise economy gearing.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @Nico:

      I’ve test-driven the 1.4T Manual and 2.0 Auto, and the automatic was far better, but not great.

      The problem isn’t the maximum HP the engines develop, but their lack of low-end torque. City driving in this car is a real chore, especially in the turbo and its noticeable lag. The stick shift was awful – poorly positioned with a heavy clutch action, and never the right ratio when mated to the weak 1.4 as its turbo took forever to spool up. But just as it does, you’re on the brakes again for the next red light. I found myself yearning for a drag strip to open up the car.

      The Dart has decent 0-60 times, but that’s not city driving. It’s the part-throttle 0-30 that ruins the experience as a commuter.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Not to pile on, but auto scribes’ “so slow it’s unsafe” observations are eye-roll-inducing. The only issue I’ve ever had with acceleration or straight-line speed on American roads was in a 26′ rental truck, and that was solely because it had a governor set very low. Cruising on the interstate, I was close to top speed and had very little wiggle room if I wanted to pass someone. If they were driving 0-5 mph below my cruising speed, I’d just slow down match their pace; more than 5 mph below my cruising speed, I’d wait for an opening and pass them very slowly. But even that was more of an annoyance than a safety issue. I had no issues driving on surface streets or merging.

      A 2.0 automatic Dart is a Group B rally car by comparison.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    I’m just wondering what the expectations for power are these days. I test drove a 2014 Chevy Cruze with the 1.4T, auto and all of 138 hp. I found it entirely adequate. Would I think the Dart 2.0 with 22 more horsepower and similar curb weight to be a slug?

    There’s no way I’d spring for any of these cars at $25k, but for $17-18k real world price, I think I might be tempted.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Underscoring the “T”.

      To answer your question, I think the average American driver’s measuring stick is going to be whether they’ll have to reconsider right-to-left lane changes in traffic because the car’s out of wind. The GM 1.4T is set up very nicely for that task.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I heard they’re going to intro a bonkers SRT-4 version of this thing for 2017 so I’m waiting. I’m hoping it has the 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder, 16-valve turbo-charged engine that makes 600 HP in the GRC Dart.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    The Dart is a weight peer with Camcords and 300-ish lbs. heavier than Corovics. Do you get a smoother, quieter ride than its segment rivals to justify that?

    Because as someone who only drives when necessary and doesn’t prioritize mpgs or power, that *would* justify it to me. Roads are only getting suckier.

    • 0 avatar
      StaysCrunchy

      As a former 2013 Dart owner, I can tell you it is most certainly NOT smoother or quieter than pretty much any other new car out there. The road noise is downright unbearable and the interior is a squeak and rattle machine of the first order.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Wow… what happened with your test drive to not reveal this? Did yours just need a little break-in to start falling apart?

        BTW, what were your other two new Dodges and your verdict on them?

        • 0 avatar
          StaysCrunchy

          I made the mistake of trusting professional reviews and only took a short test drive. In my defense, however, the squeaks and rattles really started presenting themselves only after the first couple-thousand miles. Actually I had 3 Dodges besides the Dart: A 2003 Ram 1500, a 2008 Avenger (yes, really lol) and a 2009 Charger. The Avenger was the wife’s so I rarely drove it, but she quite liked it and it never gave us any trouble. The truck was a truck that I used for doing truck stuff, but it was stylish and comfortable and I liked it quite a bit as well. The Charger was great! I loved the way it looked and I loved the way it drove. All of my Dodges seemed to show signs of general wear a little quicker than I would have expected if that makes sense, but overall I had been very satisfied with my Dodges. Wish I had stopped at Charger though…

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “All of my Dodges seemed to show signs of general wear a little quicker than I would have expected if that makes sense”

            Yep, makes perfect sense. That’s what I found with Kia and family Chevys.

            With Kia, they’ve managed to find/invent rubber compounds that magically transform under suspension pressure to anthracite.

            Maybe we should have kept ours longer to see if diamonds happened.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        Wow! You dumped that little turd like a hot rock!

  • avatar
    StaysCrunchy

    I’m a Dodge guy. I stuck with them through the hard times, defended them to my family and friends during the bankruptcy, and supported them with my wallet by buying 3 brand new Dodges over the past 12 years. Last October I bought a Dodge Dart Aero, and I can say with neither hesitation nor apology that it is the absolute worst car I have ever owned, and quite possibly is the worst car in its class and price range for sale on God’s green earth today. After spending almost 3 weeks in the shop cumulatively since October, and after 3 denied attempts by me to get Chrysler to repurchase the car under the provisions of the Lemon Law, I finally just took the huge financial hit and traded it in on something from a different manufacturer about 3 weeks ago. I am done being a Dodge fan, I am done being a Dodge apologist, and I am done giving Dodge my money. If the Dart represents the future of Dodge, they can shudder their doors forever for all I care.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Sounds like our situation. I traded my Dakota for a Kia not long after our 38K Neon blew a radiator and my Dakota kept losing power steering fluid and no one could find out why.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      You have every right to toast this car and Dodge, you laid it out very fairly , it seems they lost you as a customer and a brand fan, a same but they and others have to lear, it only takes one POS to kill off a long term relationship. What did you replace fit with.

      PS BTR will not be your friend now :)

  • avatar
    Thatkat09

    Im sure the 2.4 is perfectly acceptable minus the poor gas mileage and the 1.4 is livable despite the “European” driving dynamics. 0 to 60 in +10 seconds however is not something I want to have to do again if i have a choice in the matter. My Metro did 0 to 60 in something like 13 seconds, I know slow is not dangerous(because im still living) but it certainly grates on the nerves when trying to change lanes or keep up with traffic after a stop light.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ll care when they start to offer a “Swinger” trim package.

    Seriously, what is with the lame Ford-style trim levels like “Limited”, “Aero”, and “GT”?

    This is the company that has given us stuff called the Cherokee Trailhawk, Nitro Detonator, Ramcharger Macho, Coronet Super Bee, Warlock, and Feather Duster. Start giving the Dart some of that.

  • avatar
    bikephil

    “Will it Zayde?”

    WTF does that mean??

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      I’m guessing he meant something like “will it fit Zayde?”

      Zayde is a Yiddish name for boys.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry for not linking to a Yiddish lexicon. As others have pointed out, Zayde is Yiddish for grandfather (and I’ve never seen it used as a first name, though I suppose it has been used as a nickname, I recall a Jewish partisan fighter during WWII was known as “the Zayde”). Jason Torchinsky over at Jalopnik has a toddler and he started doing “Will it baby?” in his reviews, to describe how test cars deal with child seats and the like. It’s a good point of data for drivers who have children or take care of others’ kids. Since I babysit my grandson every Thursday, with Jason’s permission I borrowed his idea.

      Also, as pointed out, Ashkenazi Jews, those descended from Jews in the European diaspora, have a tradition of not naming children for living people, but rather using names to memorialize someone. Sephardi Jews, whose diaspora was the Middle East, do name after living people.

      Yiddish curses are wonderfully bittersweet, they could be complements if you didn’t know the culture. “It’s time already they should name someone after him.”

  • avatar
    Victor

    It is the best-looking Dodge these days. Still weird to ser a Dart badge on it, though.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I have driven now 3 rental grade 2013 AT Farts. They are cheap inside and out. The materials quality is dismal. Something happens when you push the gas, another when you push the brake. I can say pushing buttons on my refrigerator gives similar results, but maybe a bit faster.

    They’re pretty much what you’d expect for a parts car made by an apathetic shell of an American company run by some Gelato eating fruit bats who just care about the bottom line and getting the most out of conning American tax payers by rummaging through the cheapest international parts bins and spending most of their R&D on commercials.

    At this point it would have been better to let Chrysler fail and do the British thing, pay the fat union slobs to sit around and do nothing as not to lose any precious “merican” jobs.

    Derp.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Man, you rant good.

    • 0 avatar
      mcarr

      I’m stealing “Gelato eating fruit bats”.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      The running dogs bark pathetically but the Grand Caravan(35K units last month in NA in minivan sales) rolls on target to sell a million Jeeps worldwide this year, on target for Jeep to pass TTAC darling Hyundai for the sixth best selling brand in the USA and 50 straight months of Chrysler growth.

      Dodge has one of the youngest buyers in the industry as does the Ram truck. The future has never looked brighter at Chrysler.

      Hey TRDyota fanbois, Grand Cherokee was one of the 10 best selling vehicles in Australia last month, right in JapanInc’s and Korean Government Motors back yard.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Our rental 2014.5 Camry SE did the 0-60 run in all of 9.2 seconds and was easily able to keep up with traffic. After all this is the best selling car in America and is the volume power train in 178 HP 2.5 automatic form so it must be good enough for most everyday folks. An 8.7 second 2.4 Dart would be an upgrade power wise from that.

  • avatar
    SayMyName

    Ronnie’s photos show other quality gaffes besides the paint run. The 15th photo reveals a sizable gap between the rounded edge of the hood and front fascia that could seemingly accommodate a stuffed business envelope. The gap doesn’t look to be repeated on the right side.

    Yeah, maybe that could be fixed by something as simple as adjusting the hood stop. Or, it could be yet another sign of how little attention is given by Fiatsler engineers and their UAW minions to designing and assembling a halfway decent automobile.


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