By on March 10, 2015

2015 Dodge Dart greyOften criticized for its poor performance in North American markets, the Dodge Dart has performed significantly better over the last five months, a period in which its midsize sibling, Dodge’s Avenger, gradually disappeared.

After generating nearly 50,000 U.S. sales in the first three-quarters of 2014, the discontinued Avenger dried up at the end of the year, generating only 2342 sales in the fourth-quarter and 461 in the first two months of 2015. The clear-out of deeply discounted, V6-engined, midsize cars from the Dodge portfolio opened up an opportunity for the Dart.

Through the first four months of 2014, Dart sales had tumbled 29% to just 22,098 units. But year-over-year volume increased in May, June July, and August (16%, 12%, 23%, and 22% respectively). The month of May, in fact, marked the Dart’s best-ever performance up to that point with 8644 sales. After a brief September decline, the Dart once again entered a period in which sales increased, rising 32% in the fourth-quarter with plenty of help from November, when 9012 Dart sales marked the nameplate’s best-ever U.S. sales performance.

Chrysler Group car sales chart February 2015 YTDThe streak has continued in early 2015. January volume shot up 61% year-over-year, and while that comparison takes into account a January 2014 in which Dart volume dropped sharply, the first month of 2015 was still the nameplate’s best of its three Januarys. February volume jumped 52%, and though not quite as successful as February 2013, last month certainly clarified the consistency of the Dart’s upward trend.

Improved the Dart may be, but it’s still selling like an upper-tier subcompact in a market that hugely favours compacts. Over the last two months, the Dart ranks 24th in U.S. passenger car sales: eighth in its class; tenth among small cars; up eight spots compared with the same period a year ago. The gap between the Dart and the most successful compacts is massive. The Chevrolet Cruze, America’s third-best-selling small car, has outsold the Dart 2.4-to-1 over the last two months despite decreased Cruze volume and increased Dart volume.

On the bright side, perhaps there’s a future for the Dart, a car which initially flopped but is now showing signs of life. A best-selling future? Unlikely. The Dart is completing its third year on the market and isn’t getting any younger. But consistent mid-pack placement? That’s a more reasonable goal.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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39 Comments on “Dodge Dart Sales Are Actually On The Upswing...”


  • avatar
    VW16v

    With great interest rates and rebates the Dart is something to at least think about before purchasing a civic, elantra, or corolla. No hatchback version like the Focus. But the Dart is a good option to stand out in the sea civic’s in you grocery store parking lot. I do like the front seats in the Dart compared to others in that price range.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      The Dart had one of the worst launches in history. Exceeded only by the FIAT 500 launch. It had two terrible engine choices, and initially only manual versions were available. It came in a million trim/option/color selections, and could get quite pricey. A complete and utter marketplace disaster, FCA had to birth that baby prematurely to get the extra 5% of Chrysler, per their contract. To their credit, they added the 2.4, chopped all the choices down, and cut the price to the point where the Dart, particularly in GT and Limited trims, are an amazing value, and the marketplace is starting to pick up on that, hence the ever-increasing sales.

  • avatar
    CooperS

    If you add Impreza in that mix the Dart and others would not even compete.

  • avatar

    Told you so…

    The “enthusiasts” just don’t get it.

    That’s why Darts and CLA sell so well.

    Cause the average driver IS NOT an ENTHUSIAST.

    Things I would have done better:
    #1 SRT version of the DART should have been available already.
    #2 HELLCAT DART should have been in concept by now.
    #3 SRT version of the 200

    When FIAT Chrysler accepts the fact that its ludicrous and obscene cars are what brings the brand more fanfare, excitement and enthusiasm, that’s when they’ll push their sales to the max.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I suppose if the motor has improved its at least something to look at, right?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      They smoothed out the larger 2.4 four and it produces class average power, but the auto transmission helped much more. Like everybody else, FCA is pushing the smaller turbo fours over the bigger normally aspirated four. They’d do even better if the smaller 3.0 Pentastar V6 were available, but I heard it won’t fit in the engine bay with the 8-speed auto.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        Actually, the turbo-4 has been relegated to one specific package on the Dart, the “Aero” model. You used to be able to get a 1.4L turbo with a manual trans on a Limited, but now the Limited is 2.4L/Auto only.

  • avatar

    One of my friends has a 2006 300c AWD and he’s in the market for a car. I’m trying to show him that the 200 AWD actually meets his needs and is far more affordable…

    …but when you’ve got friends like me with SRT and you ar trying to keep up…you don’t want to “downsize”.

    So basically, the 200 offers as much – if not more tech than the current 300 does and unless you really needed the interior space, it would be a perfect substitute with less thirst.

    I’m so happy to see FIAT/Chrysler CRUSHING the naysayers.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Just tell me one thing, are you in fact, Sergio Marchionne? I always suspected the sweater thing was just an act and all.

    • 0 avatar
      omer333

      I recently had a 200C with the 2.4 as a rental car and I wasn’t as big a fan as I thought I would be. I mean, I love my Dart, but I couldn’t get into this thing.

      The engine was fine enough. The 9-speed is overkill, especially if you have to “gun it” to get into traffic. The front seats are fine enough, but the back seats are narrow if you have to lock in a child seat and a booster seat.

      The thing that I absolutely hated was the placement of the gear-selector in relation to the HVAC controls, if you’re not looking and want to turn down the fan speed on the A/C, you could accidentally switch the car into neutral. I did that. Thankfully I was in my company’s office, so I was driving at a low speed. I’m surprised there’s no lock built into the system so if it’s in a forward gear you can’t put it in another gear.

    • 0 avatar
      Timtoolman

      Me too. Their products are a lot better than they get credit for, especially by the likes of Consumer Retorts.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I think that any upper trim Dart (read: $20k and up) is in dangerous waters, as that will buy you any number of much better midsize cars. But then again the same applies to any upper trim level compact.

    With enough discounts at a lower trim level, and the appeal of financing anyone with a heartbeat, the Dart’s more substantial size/heft has some appeal when looking at Civics and the like. Resale and long term reliability continue to be question marks.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      I’d think folks who are shopping for a car in this class based on size and heft would go with a Cruze. It seems to have way more room than a Dart, especially in the trunk and rear seat, and it’s pretty hefty. Too hefty for my taste, but it does ride nice and I’m not too unhappy when I rent one.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Likewise I thought highly both of the Eco 6spd I test drove 2 years ago but didn’t buy ($19k is damn near Accord money), and of the rental LT I had last fall. They ride wonderfully, road noise is well managed.

        It truly is a historic moment when choosing between a Civic/Corolla and a GM compact comes down to personal preference and priorities rather than some vast gap in build quality/reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        r129

        The Cruze and the Dart both feel similarly hefty (the Focus feels like a tin can by comparison), and both are relatively large for the class. I think the average car buyer would like both of them pretty well. As far as driving dynamics, I much preferred the Dart 2.4 6M over the Cruze 1.4T 6M. The manual on the Cruze was so awkward that it would be a deal breaker for me, whereas I didn’t have any major complaints about the Dart’s transmission. The Dart was overall a more entertaining drive, though a bit less refined than the Cruze. I also think the Dart looks better, and I like that it’s not so common. Of course, none of the above matters to the average car buyer, and with the questionable reliability of the Dart, the Cruze is probably the better choice for most.

  • avatar
    shadow mozes

    I always liked this car. Looks great, drives great. Eons better than the old caliber and neon.

  • avatar
    wmba

    I suppose there are people having a hard time sleeping at night, tossing and turning in anticipation of buying a Dart to the exclusion of all else.

    But it seems highly unlikely even the among non-enthusiast populace.

    Still, stranger things have happened.

    Just not many.

  • avatar
    StaysCrunchy

    I was an early adopter on those garbage cars. I traded it in after 6 months and signed that new note with the several-thousand dollars of negative equity carried over with a huge smile on my face.

    I was a bona-fide “Dodge Guy” before that hunk o’ crap Dart. I’ve owned several of them, I had the hats, I had the t-shirts… hell I always only picked Dodges whenever I’d play a game like Forza and Gran Turismo too! Now you won’t get me anywhere near a FCA dealership. Absolutely the worst car for sale on the market today.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      What was the worst thing about it?

      • 0 avatar
        StaysCrunchy

        Extremely high level of road noise, worse than any new (and most used) car I’ve ever driven.

        Turbo lag was so bad it made the car downright dangerous to drive, I had to completely change my driving style as a result. An opening in heavy traffic that any other car on the road could easily and safely merge into was not possible in that car. I had to wait until all traffic was completely clear (to the obvious delight of all the cars waiting behind me) to merge. You step on the gas and it doesn’t go, period. I’ve owned a turbo Audi A4 an old Merkur XR4Ti, and I’ve driven turbo Saabs, Fords, and other Audis besides my A4. None of them had anywhere near the turbo lag as this Dart, not even close. Like I said, it wasn’t just annoying, it was flat-out dangerous.

        Mine was the “Aero” model which is supposed to be the highest fuel ecomomy version. The best I ever got, and this was ONE tank when I was trying extra hard, was about 32. Now, 32 is good, don’t get me wrong, but that was one tank. I averaged low to mid 20s.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Well, that’d turn me off too, but the issue with the 1.4 turbo is well known on this car. Ditto for the road noise. So, just out of curiosity, why did you buy it in the first place?

          Besides that, was the car reliable? Any repair issues?

          • 0 avatar
            StaysCrunchy

            When I bought it, I did something I’ve never done before and what I’ve told countless friends and family members not to do: I bought it based only on reviews and hype. Sure I test drove it, but only around the block. I should have taken it on the freeway where the road noise would have been glaringly apparent. It had also been about 5 or 6 years since I last owned a car with a 5-speed trans, so I assumed the lag and bucking/jerking to be my fault.

            I let my love of Dodge blind me, I had basically already made up my mind to buy a Dart weeks before I left the house that day. I was a car salesman’s dream that day, “Just sell me THIS car! I don’t care about anything else!”

        • 0 avatar
          omer333

          Did your Dart Aero have the automatic transmission?

          I test-drove all three engine choices that came with the auto-trans and I thought the turbo with the auto had a lot of lag. It turns out that the transmission needed an update to it’s computer, at least that’s what I got from one of the message boards.

          But its also likely that the 1.4 turbo engine isn’t powerful enough to move the Dart effeciently.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            The 1.4T is fine with a manual transmission – just keep the car in a gear that puts the engine right around 2300-2400 RPM, and instant turbo boost and acceleration is just a light throttle prod away. I generally got 27-28 mpg in my stop and go commute, and that’s being driven aggressively.

            The higher trim levels have better sound deadening – not surprising really and in line with many other cars. The Aero was the fuel economy special and had as much stuff stripped off of it to keep the weight down, including the sound deadening. Heck, it even had a different, smaller gas tank and washer fluid bottle.

    • 0 avatar
      superchan7

      Why don’t you tell us what was wrong with it, instead of run-on hyperbole.

      • 0 avatar
        StaysCrunchy

        “Why don’t you tell us what was wrong with it, instead of run-on hyperbole.”

        Because for every thing I say was wrong with it, four other people will come on here and contradict me. Anybody who heaps praise on any product is a blind fanboi, and anybody who offers criticism is a jaded crybaby. This is the internet, everybody on here is already a genius millionaire playboy philanthropist underwear model with an 800 Beacon, nothing I say specifically is going to persuade anybody to buy or not buy this car. Suffice to say I had one, it had numerous problems, FCA refused to lemon law it all three times I asked, so I traded it in. It’s somebody else’s headache now.

        • 0 avatar
          superchan7

          I have a car with a nearly identical powertrain, the Fiat 500L.

          The low displacement means it the car can’t be hurried until you actually reach boost. Acceleration, merging and changing lanes needs more planning than, say, a conventional 2.4L. I skew towards leadfoot so I notice this a lot. My wife, however, doesn’t.

          Once you’re on boost in the 500L, it’s quite quick. Not sure about the Dart on this one. I suspect the Dart is best had with the bigger engine.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Why was Challenger left out of the chart when it outsells the 300?

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I think the comments about options and pricing could be said about nearly every car on the market. A friend bought a base Versa Note (manual trans, no options) for under $13k. At that price, she should barely find decent used car with less than 80k miles on it and certainly nothing Japanese. But load one up with options close to $20k and it isn’t remotely competitive with anything. Nicer cloth and navigation won’t make it quieter or faster car. Her depreciation on that car will be much lower when it’s time to sell in a few years, even with high miles. I saw used Versas selling for more than she paid new.

    Most of the expensive options on cars aren’t things one really needs and don’t bring much at resale time. Nav? Don’t you have a smart phone in your pocket like everyone else? Lane departure warning system? Look over your shoulder and it’s just an annoyance. When nearly every car (except for that Versa) seems to come standard with PW/PL, A/C, a decent stereo, what does one “need” in a new car?

    Have you plugged some of those options in KBB? A used car with Nav usually comes out a hundred or two higher than one without. That tells me what the market value of that stuff really is. Not to mention the cost of updating and repairing those items as the cars age.

    The problem is that the dealers in smaller markets rarely seem to stock less-optioned cars. I live in Northern Michigan and finding a manual transmission in stock of anything is nearly impossible. Even Subaru and Mazda dealers here only have loaded automatics figuring people will just take what’s available rather than travel a couple of hours. A Subaru CrossTrek (exceedingly popular in this climate) is a heck of a car for $22-$23k but most of them here are loaded to the $28k level and I don’t think the local dealer has had a manual transmission example on the lot in 6 months.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Funny you mention the Versa, I had a ‘revelation’ during my business trip to Mexico, riding around in bare bones ‘Tsuru’ taxis and the like, and came back home and promptly test drove a Versa “S” sedan, with the 5spd stick and zero options.

      There’s something to be said about a ‘real’ sized sedan that you can buy new, from a respected manufacturer, for $11k. And in that bottom of the barrel segment, is actually some really high resale.

      I love the Versa for being an unapologetic econobox styled like a 3rd world taxi (which is a role it is employed in). The rear legroom and trunk space both are superior to my Civic by a decent margin, I was very impressed.

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