What Will Last Longer: the Dodge Dart or Obama's Presidency?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

After announcing earlier this year that it wanted someone else to take care of its problem patients, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is performing surgery on the slow-selling Dodge Dart lineup.

The Fiat-based compact will be pared down from five offerings to three, outfitted to offer the features customers want at a strategic price, with no engine overlap between models. It also means the end of the “Obama Dart” — the high-mileage Aero edition produced to satisfy the U.S. government’s bailout conditions many years back. More on that later.

In January, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the Dart and its midsize brother, the Chrysler 200, would be gradually discontinued, with future small car heavy lifting outsourced to an as-yet-unnamed automaker. Chronically low sales made this choice an easy one.

To try to reverse the trend, FCA is trying consolidation. Dodge will now drop the entry-level Dart SE, and start the ladder with the Dart SXT Sport. That model, which retails for $17,995 (about a grand more than the SE), comes equipped with a 2.0-liter Tigershark four-cylinder making 160 horsepower.

The SXT model will disappear, as will the Aero, with a Dart Turbo slotted into the middle spot. Powered by a 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo four that makes 160 hp, but significantly more torque than the 2.0-liter, the Dart Turbo will retail for $19,495, less than the similarly equipped Aero.

Topping out the range will be the Dart GT Sport. Packing the hottest Dart powerplant — a 184 hp 2.4-liter Tigershark four — the GT Sport will sell for $20,995, undercutting the price of the GT and Limited models it will be replacing.

Three appearance packages — Chrome, Rallye and Blacktop — will remain available.

“We are repositioning the Dart lineup to better align production and dealer inventory with consumer demand and preference,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of FCA’s North American passenger car brands, in a statement.

Six-speed manual transmissions will come standard on all models, with a six-speed automatic available as an option … except on the Dart Turbo.

If you recall, the Aero/Obama Dart came with an optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic (now on its way to becoming a museum piece) that never took off with the buying public, but was needed to satisfy fuel economy demands.

That model, and the requirement of achieving 40 miles per gallon combined (via the “old” EPA methodology), could be to blame for the Dart’s botched launch back in late 2012.

With a six-speed stick as its sole transmission choice, the Dart Turbo will continue to keep the bailout days alive — for the time being, anyway — thanks to an EPA highway rating of 41 mpg.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on Apr 12, 2016

    A chilling thought - President Rodham - nominates and gets King Pimple of a man put on the Supreme Court. Conservatives flee the court and then King Pimple become chief justice. 30 years of his judicial activism and contempt for the Constitution would make Canada erect a wall to keep us all out.

    • See 7 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Apr 13, 2016

      Drzhivago138 - I don't know either. Our right wing politicians tend to more centrist and when they tried to move further right got ousted by a pretty boy with virtually no political experience.

  • Snakebit Snakebit on Dec 09, 2019

    Since President Obama is on the sidelines at this point(12/2019), I'd say his legacy will be longer than that of the modern Dodge Dart. I hope Sergio Marchionnes'legacy will last a lot longer. He was one of my favorite auto execs, and his forecast on the 60 Minutes interview that FCA could survive one failure(meaning the Dart being manufactured during the time of the interview) makes me doubly sad that he's no longer alive. This being said, the Dart was a sales failure while I lived in Boston. Now out in Reno, I probably see one on the highway every other day, which dwarfs the number bought in Boston. This is also Dodge/Ram country, more seen on the road than either F150 or the Chev/GMC cousins as far as late model rigs. Maybe that and a generous rebate for Darts after assembly stopped are factors in the higher sales numbers out west.

  • VoGhost It's funny, until CDK raises their prices to cover the cost. And then the stealerships do even more stealing because they're certainly not taking the hit - why do you think they make all those political donations? So who pays in the end?
  • VoGhost I was talking today to a guy who pulled up in an '86 Camry. Said it ran like a top, got 30 mpg, the AC was ice cold and everywhere he goes, people ask to buy it. He seemed happy.
  • VoGhost TL:DL. Younger people less racist.
  • VoGhost None of the commenters who won't buy from China think twice about getting their oil from Saudi Arabia. They may even be filling up with Venezuelan or Russian petroleum, for all they know.
  • Johnny ringo In a word, no-the usual Chinese business model is to invite foreign companies into China as a joint venture, insist on a 49% share in the company-along with technology transfer and then push the foreign partner out and take control. And now with all the sabre rattling going on between the United States and China over Taiwan and the South China Sea and the possibility of a war, I'm not giving any of my money to the Chinese.