Archive for the ‘dodge dart’ Tag

Crossovers replacing sedans: Back to the past

Sergio Marchionne’s comment that the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 would be allowed to “run their course” and then be replaced by cars from a “potential partner” caused a range of emotional reactions.

This is not the first time for such thoughts. In the late 1980s, GM, Ford, and Chrysler all lost money on each compact car. Chrysler changed that with the Neon and Cirrus/Stratus, which made hefty profits even while GM and Ford kept losing money. This time, though, insiders claim the company does not have the facilities nor the experienced engineers to make it happen; and even Ford now wants a partner for its sedans.

The earliest mass-produced cars included sedans, but many were the equivalent, in size and shape, of today’s crossovers — the area where Sergio Marchionne wants FCA to focus, at least in North America. Long, low, and sleek appeared as “the look to have” a few years after World War II, for 20-30 years; then the hatchback came into style.

Chrysler sparked a resurgence in the large sedan market in the early 1990s, then helped to rejuvenate midsize and small cars. The moribund large sedan market revived, and sedans in general gained a new lease on life.

Still, the popularity of the low sedan is recent and may be at an end. Ordinary sedans have been getting taller, with the 300 just two inches from the Nissan Juke and six from the Compass and 500L. The 1946 Plymouth was taller than any of them — and the Jeep Cherokee: 68 inches.

So why do many of us, including me, prefer sedans? Is it because they are lower to the ground and handle better? I don’t think so, given how most people drive, and the competent handling of most new crossovers (not to mention the popularity of BMW and Porsche’s crossovers).

Even gas mileage is not really penalized much now, with their larger frontal area countered by aerodynamic design, valve timing, and wide-range transmissions. They also have more space for the large batteries and other gear needed for light and full hybrid systems.

I have had numerous sedans in my life, no SUVs, and just two minivans; my only crossover was a PT Cruiser GT. Still, I can see the attraction of the crossover, especially now that everyone has minivans, SUVs, pickups, and crossovers, which makes visibility rather hard from a low-slung car.

I think the sedan will become more and more specialized over time. Two-door cars (including sedans) used to be extremely common, but they rapidly declined from the 1970s on, and now FCA US only makes the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Viper, Jeep Wrangler, Rams, and Fiat 500 in that form; and even in pickups and Wranglers, the two-door form is less and less popular.

I don’t think this presages the death of Chrysler or Dodge. The 200 and Dart (and Fiat 500) need high incentives to sell. Is replacing them worth delaying rear wheel drive cars for Dodge or large cars and crossovers for Chrysler and Dodge? Mr. Marchionne has a finite number of engineers at hand, and only so many factories. Paying off $5 billion in debt will earn the company more cash than building a new plant.

(I am very, very disappointed that Mr. Marchionne’s pledge that Chrysler would “lead” the engineering of future compact and midsize and large cars has been completely ignored and reneged upon.)

Limited resources, limited time, and a class of car that appears to be disappearing, selling only with large incentives … I can’t say I’d have been able to do anything different.

Or… it’s another trial balloon or an attempt to mis-lead competitors. We are talking about Sergio Marchionne, after all; and his announcements tend not to be set in stone.

Update: When buyers choose sedans, they almost invariably choose imports. Of the top ten 2015 best sellers in the US, there were no American sedans — Camry, Corolla, Accord, Civic and Altima accompanied two imported crossovers (CR-V and RAV4) and the three American pickups. The best selling cars (Camry and Corolla) combined barely outsold Ford’s pickups. In Europe, Fiat’s Panda has grown to challenge its best-seller, the 500; while the 500X, in its first year, nearly matched the declining Punto (both were beaten by the 500L). Fiat’s sales in Europe, 500 aside, are heavily biased in favor of crossovers, vans, and utilities. The same is not true for everyone — over half of Ford’s sales are the Fiesta and Focus.

As read on:

What exactly is the Hurricane engine?

Speculation/analysis. Last week, Allpar was the first to show one of the Hurricane prototype engines. It is a turbocharged two-liter, according to various reports; scuttlebutt had the goal at 300 horsepower or so for an SRT version, and the mid-200s for a standard model.

Alfa Romeo recently announced its two-liter four would hit 276 horsepower, but other than taking full credit for its development, said nothing about its origins. If it were based on the 1.75 liter engine they already have, we would expect them to say it, so we suspect they are using some version of the Hurricane.

Normally, it would seem that the Hurricane was an updated, turbocharged version of the current “World Engine,” but Bob Lees’ 2014 presentation included an image of a future four-cylinder engine family, to be made in two sizes, for the entire company: Fiat, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and Alfa Romeo (Maserati seems unlikely to use it).

Some of these technologies are being explored by Chrysler, such as the belt-starter alternator, stop-start system, cooled EGR, integrated manifold, and variable-displacement oil pump. MultiAir is from Fiat, and direct injection probably draws on Fiat’s expertise as well. The Alfa Romeo engine uses MultiAir and direct injection.

It’s possible that this will be the first appearance of the new engine family, which would, among other things, explain why the Alfa Romeo Giulia is taking so long to arrive.

It’s also possible that they are building on the existing Chrysler 2-liter engine and past work on trying to make a Dart SRT4. Alfa Romeo would have to do their own tuning and engineering, partly because the SRT engine would be built to a lower cost budget, partly because they have different goals.

Regardless, for marketing reasons, expect any new engine to show up as an Alfa Romeo first — because no premium car owner wants a mass-market engine under the hood. Since mass-market car buyers don’t mind high-end engines, even if Auburn Hills had done all the work on the new engine series (which they almost certainly have not), it would still be credited to Alfa Romeo.

Read more at:

300-hp Dart GLH coming, turbos for all?

Work on a Dart SRT has yielded one result, according to an Allpar source: the Dart GLH, borrowing a name from hot Omnis of the past.

Carroll Shelby claimed that GLH stood for “Goes Like Heck,” and it’s likely that the new Dart will do just that, with its long-rumored turbocharged engine.

In addition to the Dart GLH, other Darts will be available with the optional “Hurricane” turbo, though probably not tuned to the GLH’s 300 hp. Indeed, we were told earlier to expect more like 240 hp from the engine, which has been reported as being 1.8 or 2.0 liters.

It seems likely that the engine will eventually be available everywhere the 2.4 World Engine is, except for the current Compass and Patriot.

Production times are unknown and could be one or two calendar years away.

Increased competition likely put the kibosh on an SRT4, but the GLH, if it comes to fruition, would probably be the car that was once to be badged as an SRT. The moniker is only used on cars that are at the top of their class, for the price.

The above rendering was designed to illustrate rumors of a Dart SRT4.

Read more at:

2017 Chrysler 100 Rendered

Susan Rand has provided a quick rendering of the Chrysler 100, based on the Fiat Aegean concept, and assuming very few exterior changes for North America. It has the current “wheel-well” sidelights, which conform to both American and European standards, and while it uses a Chrysler grille, keeps the indentations of the Fiat concept.



The Chrysler 100 is reportedly to be based on SUSW, a new American version of the old Fiat-GM SCSS platform. It will likely have all American engines, perhaps limited to the 2.0 turbo and 2.0 non-turbo, though a 1.4 Fiat turbo might be used to get high fuel mileage in the ads. European versions are to get engines ranging from 95 to 120 horsepower, including diesels.

Allpar expects the car to have the first nine-speed automatic transmission in its class, with better acceleration and economy than the current Dodge Dart, which will also end up with a nine-speed.

Read more at:

2016 Jeep Patriot Planned

Jeep will keep making the Patriot into the 2016 model year, despite the appearance of the new Jeep Renegade, according to reliable Allpar source “Mopar Man.”

Some expected the Patriot to be dropped once the Renegade appeared, since the cars share a basic form and are roughly similar in size and price. However, relatively few Renegades have made it to the United States, and the plant where the Patriot, Compass, and Dodge Dart are all made is not at full capacity.

A new Jeep Compass is planned for calendar-year 2016, having been pushed back at least once. While the name is still not officially settled, most sources believe it will remain Compass, though the platform will change. In the United States, it will likely use a 2-liter Hurricane turbocharged four-cylinder engine, as well as the current 2.4 and possibly the turbocharged Fiat 1.4 to have a fuel economy leader; however, it will almost certainly use a ZF-based nine-speed automatic, possibly in addition to a manual transmission.

Both Jeep Patriot and the current Jeep Compass are to cease production when the new car starts coming down the line. The next-generation, 2017 Dodge Dart is scheduled to appear at around the same time as the Compass.

As read on:

2015 Dodge Dart Sedan – Overview


What’s New for 2015:

– SE Convenience Group option package

– Dart SXT adds new aluminum wheel design

– Blacktop package comes with black and red interior

– Uconnect 8.4 is Android compatible

– 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine meets PZEV emission standard

– Three new exterior colors


The 2015 Dodge Dart competes against traditional compact cars but is actually rated a midsize car by EPA standards. The Dart’s competitive set includes the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla, and Volkswagen Jetta.

Models and Features

Five versions of the 2015 Dart are for sale, including the SE, SXT, Aero, Limited, and GT.

The Dart SXT adds equipment at the same time that it makes more options available. Highlights include a larger and more powerful engine, nicer interior materials, 60/40 split rear seat with a pass-through, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, power door locks with remote keyless entry, and air conditioning. Details include a trip computer, auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, sliding armrest cover for the center console, rear center armrest with cupholders, electronic vehicle information center, and an overhead console with a sunglasses storage container. Additionally, the audio system gains additional speakers, and the steering wheel includes audio controls. The Dart SXT also includes automatic headlights, LED racetrack-style taillights, power side mirrors, unique trim detailing, and 16-in. aluminum wheels.

The Aero trim level is based on the Dart SE, but is packaged differently from the SXT. It has most of the SXT’s upgrades but includes a more fuel-efficient powertrain, active grille shutters plus chrome grille detailing, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and upgraded gauges including a tachometer and an illuminated surround. The Dart Aero also includes a Uconnect 8.4 touch-screen infotainment system with voice-command Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, a USB port, satellite radio, and a reversing camera.

The Dart GT is the sporty model, adding to the Dart SXT a sport-tuned suspension, 18-in. aluminum wheels with low-profile tires, fog lights, and dual exhaust outlets. The GT is also equipped with the same Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system found in the Dart Aero, plus leather seats, a 6-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated exterior mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control system, and keyless passive entry with push-button engine starting. Upgraded interior trim includes a soft-touch dashboard and nicer door panels, plus premium instrumentation with an illuminated surround, ambient cabin lighting, outside temperature gauge, compass, and a universal garage door opener.

The Dart Limited contains most of the same features as the Dart GT, swapping the 18-in. wheels for a smaller 17-in. design, ditching the sport suspension for a touring suspension with a rear stabilizer bar, and trading the standard manual gearbox for a standard automatic transmission. Additionally, the Dart Limited’s exterior trim is brighter and fancier, the leather seats feature exposed stitching, and the shift knob is covered in cowhide. Navigation, SiriusXM traffic, and SiriusXM Travel Link services are also standard, along with remote engine starting, active grille shutters, and a power sunroof.

Under the Hood

A 160-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard in the Dart SE. Dart SXT, GT, and Limited trim levels are equipped with a 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Choose the Dart Aero for an exclusive turbocharged, 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 160 horsepower.

A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard for SE, SXT, Aero, and GT Darts. The Dart Limited is equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission, which is an option for the SE, SXT, and GT. The Dart Aero is offered with an optional 6-speed automated manual gearbox.

Fuel Economy

Due to its economical, turbocharged, small-displacement engine, the Dart Aero is the most fuel-efficient version of this car, EPA-rated from 28 mpg in the city to 41 mpg on the highway, depending on transmission choice.

The most common Dart powertrain–the 2.4-liter with an automatic transmission as installed in the SXT and Limited trim levels–is just as fuel-efficient as the Dart SE’s 2.0-liter/automatic combination. The latter gets 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, while the larger and more powerful setup returns 23 mpg city/35 mpg highway. Choose a manual gearbox and the Dart SE is more fuel-efficient (25 mpg city/35 mpg highway) while the Dart SXT is less fuel-efficient (22 mpg city/35 mpg highway).

Select the Dart GT and you can expect to get 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway with the manual gearbox and 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway with the automatic.

Safety and Technology

Depending on the trim level selected, the 2015 Dart can be upgraded with rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beam headlights, rear park-assist sensors, and a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-path detection. Additional tech-related improvements include a configurable gauge display and keyless passive entry with push-button engine starting. The Dart is also available with a Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system containing a USB port, SD card slot, and voice-activated access to Bluetooth calling and music streaming. Options for this system include a Wi-Fi hotspot connection, navigation system, and a premium sound system.

As read on:

Dodge Dart R/T Concept: The High-Performance Compact Dodge Needs to Build

Dodge has a fascinating history of building hot compacts, one prominent example being the Omni GLHS by Shelby, while the Caliber SRT4 marked a low point in terms of style and refinement. For the 2014 SEMA show in Las Vegas, the carmaker has taken its sensible Dart and tweaked it significantly to make it digestible to more discerning enthusiasts.

Painted in bright orange with matte black as a contrast color, and fitted with a prominent rear spoiler and diffuser, this Dart R/T concept looks pleasantly aggressive. But it also looks rather refined, thanks to a revised front fascia that turns the grille into a slit, while creating a large lower air intake visually separated by a body-colored strip. This feeds more air to the intercooler, Dodge says. We say it just looks cool.

The flat-black aluminum hood incorporates a large duct that not only appears awesome, but also feeds extra air to the unspecified engine’s intake box (the hood will be available as a Mopar add-on beginning early next year). Fiat-Chrysler claims the Dart R/T concept seems “poised to strike fear in the competition.” We wouldn’t go that far, but we will say that the package is an impressive improvement over the already sleek-looking Dart. With 18-inch lightweight wheels, a big-brake kit, and adjustable coil-over suspension from the Mopar catalog, it promises better road manners, too.

Who knows—this concept may actually inspire a series-production variant and add another chapter to Dodge’s remarkable history of compact high-performance beasts. Given the Dart’s general “meh”-ness, we think such a car can’t arrive quickly enough.

As read on:

Join us tomorrow at Plymouth High School for our Dodge Booster Club Fundraiser

The Dodge brand and Dick Scott Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram will team up with Plymouth High School Booster Club for a Dodge Booster Club Fundraiser tomorrow, Saturday, August 16th at Plymouth High School from 11:30am – 3:30pm.  Everyone in the community is invited to come out to test drive a 2014 Dodge Durango, Grand Caravan, Dart, or Journey. For each brief test drive taken during the fundraiser, the Dodge brand will donate $20 to The Plymouth High School Booster Club.

Dick Scott Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram will provide the vehicles, and dealership staff will be on hand to assist with the fundraising test drives.  “We enjoy working with the parents and students in our community and look forward to the opportunity to help the Plymouth High School Booster Club in their fundraising efforts,” said Jason Scott, General Sales Manager at Dick Scott Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. “The Dodge school fundraisers are friendly and fun for everyone.  Stop by and spend a few minutes with us to help raise funds for Plymouth High School.”

The Dodge Booster Club Fundraiser will not only help the Plymouth High School Booster club, it’s a fun and friendly opportunity to check out and drive the exciting new 2014 Dodge lineup.

With the cooperation of local dealers like Dick Scott Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Plymouth, the Dodge brand supports local schools and student enrichment programs in communities across the United States, and has helped raise over $5 million since 1993.  Last year alone, Dodge donated $714,360 to local high school booster clubs through the Dodge Booster Club Fundraiser.


We hope to see you tomorrow at Plymouth High School!

Dodge and SRT belong together!

Among the moves unveiled during the recent Investor Day program for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, shifting the Street and Racing Technology (SRT) group into the Dodge brand perked up the ears of driving enthusiasts.

The change means the Viper high-performance sports car returns to the brand where it was born in 1993. Also, throughout SRT’s history the majority of its products have come from the Dodge stable.

With Dodge now positioned as the Chrysler Group’s performance brand, bringing SRT into the fold is a natural move, says Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group CEO.

“Dodge is a performance brand, it needs to have SRT attached to it,” Marchionne said on May 13 while attending a transmission plant opening event in Indiana.

He added: “So in the next five years you will see the portfolio purified and strengthened by removing the minivan, the Avenger, the replacement of the Journey with something else that matches the DNA of Dodge. But that needs the completion at the top end with SRT. And SRT will complete Dodge. It will make it the specialist performance piece of the performance brand.”

SRT will maintain its current momentum under the leadership of Dodge Brand President and CEO Tim Kuniskis. The passionate and popular Ralph Gilles, who served as SRT brand chief, continues in his roles as Chrysler Group design chief and head of motorsports.

“He’s still going to be leading the design of the cars,” Marchionne said. “That’s a huge strength in that field.”

As read on:

Asked about the Viper, Marchionne said: “It’s going to be the top end of the extended Dodge family. It will be a Viper but managed by Dodge. The fangs will always be unique.”

2014 Dodge Dart – Review

The Dodge Dart is now in its second model year, and the car that replaced the Caliber hatchback is already benefiting from some change. A new 2.4-liter four-cylinder is slowly making its way into new, high-trim cars, leaving the existing engine options–both, smaller four-cylinders–on the less desirable end of the spectrum.

The Dart, you might know, is Chrysler’s first compact car since it extinguished the Neon in the early 2000s. By interior volume, the Dart’s almost a mid-sizer, and it feels like it. But for marketing purposes, mostly price, it’s a competitor for compact cars we know and love–cars like the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, and Hyundai Elantra.

In terms of style, the Dart is the halfway point between the current Dodge Charger and a mint-condition, old-school Neon. It’s larger than the Neon, but the proportions are similar–with a wide stance and a low cowl–but it’s brawnier like the Charger, especially from the rear. With its flowing dashboard, the Dart’s interior leans toward the sporty end of the spectrum. Well-equipped models come with an 8.4-inch display for the navigation, climate and audio controls, and a smaller screen displaying vehicle information sits between the gauges in the instrument cluster.

At the wheel, the Dart’s seats are comfortable front and rear, and the seating position isn’t as low as you’d expect from the car’s lines. Soft-touch materials on most parts of the dash coordinate nicely with harder plastic elements, though big swathes of hard black textured plastic still crop up in a couple of places inside the littlest Dodge.

The styling says the Dart is a performance car, but whether the car lives up to that expectation depends on your engine choice. The standard 160-horsepower 2.0-liter four is simply underpowered in this heavy compact. A 2.0-liter Dart feels significantly slower than competitors in the most demanding duties, like merging into heavy freeway traffic on an uphill ramp while heavily loaded. Opt for the turbocharged 160-hp 1.4-liter engine, however, and you’ll find more torque, better acceleration, and a sportier, more responsive drive. But you’ll have to keep your foot firmly into the accelerator to make it happen.

Like many cars with six-speed transmissions, the Dart is tuned to keep the engine running below 2,000 rpm under steady load, for best fuel economy. The 1.4-liter gives you power, but not until it revs past 3,000 rpm–which may mean not one but two downshifts. The 184-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder is now the standard engine in SXT, Limited and GT models, while a 41-mpg version of 1.4-liter is mated to a six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic in Aero model cars.

For gas mileage, the 1.4-liter turbo Dart is rated at 27 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 32 mpg. The base 2.0-liter model gets a combined rating of 29 mpg, with both those figures being for the six-speed manual gearbox version. There’s also a Dart Aero model coming with extra tweaks for slightly higher fuel efficiency.

The Dart has achieved what’s essentially a bulls-eye in U.S. crash-test ratings–with top five-star ratings overall from the federal government and Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That combination makes it one of the highest-rated cars for safety in this class–next to only the Honda Civic. The car comes standard with 10 airbags, along with the usual suite of electronic safety systems and also both blind-spot alert and cross-traffic detection, which are new to the compact segment. Outward visibility is admirable–far from the case in these days of strengthened roofs for rollover safety.

The 2014 Dodge Dart starts at $15,995 for the base-level SE model, and SXT, Aero and GT trims are available. On top of that you’ll have to add the mandatory $795 delivery fee, plus options from a lengthy list of ways to accessorize and personalize the Dart–which can be ordered in more than 100,000 different combinations, Dodge says.

On Styling
The 2013 Dodge Dart is distinctive and fresh, though you can see elements of the brawny Charger muscle sedan and cheerful old Neon.

The 2014 Dodge Dart doesn’t look like all the other compact sedans, thankfully. Whether in visual proportions or in up-close details, the Dart strikes a refreshingly different pose—class that includes plenty of lookalikes.

If you’re a good car-spotter, you might see the Dart as a halfway point between the current generation Dodge Charger and a mint-condition, old-school Neon. Its cowl isn’t actually any lower than in other cars, but its wide stance, lower fender tops, and long flowing roofline make it look larger and lower. By design, it’s neither as boxy and upright as the Chevy Cruze nor as slab-sided as the Ford Focus sedan. And in back, there’s an upright, chiseled kick that nods to Dodge’s muscle cars, like the Challenger and Charger, with a full-width taillight cluster that offers the option of fitting 152 LED lights inside. The exhaust tips are large 3-inch oval shapes in the rear apron, unlike more basic compacts that use only a single exhaust pipe.

In all, it’s far more extroverted than the likes of the Hyundai Elantra, or even the new 2014 Toyota Corolla. The styling says the Dart is a performance car, but whether the car lives up to that expectation depends on your engine choice.

Inside the Dart, the dash is businesslike yet flowing and sculpted. Dodge’s designers said they intended users to have fun while looking at the shapes, and perhaps the most noticeable feature is what they call the “floating island” center bezel–an oblong instrument panel and control surface, essentially.

With its flowing dashboard, the Dart’s interior leans toward the sporty end of the spectrum. Well-equipped models come with an 8.4-inch display for the navigation, climate and audio controls, and a smaller screen displaying vehicle information sits between the gauges in the instrument cluster.

On Performance
The 2014 Dodge Dart remains full of delights and letdowns; go for the rev-happier 1.4T if you want driving fun, as the base 2.0-liter feels anemic here.

The 2014 Dodge Dart might appear to be a performance car, although whether it lives up to that expectation or not depends on which trim level (and engine) you choose.

The standard 160-horsepower 2.0-liter four is simply underpowered in this heavy compact, and its ‘TigerShark’ name is a bit misleading. It puts out 148 lb-ft of torque, it fall flat of expectations in this car that weighs about 3,300 pounds—considerably more than some of its rivals. In more demanding driving, whether it’s quick acceleration from a stoplight or merging into fast-flowing freeway traffic from uphill ramps, the 2.0-liter Dart feels significantly slower than most competitors.

The optional turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir engine puts out the same 160 hp, but 184 lb-ft of torque, and is considerably more entertaining to drive. The catch is that this engine also feels sluggish below 2,500 rpm; you’d better enjoy driving like an Italian, which is to say keeping your foot in the engine and routinely revving it from 3,000 to 6,000 rpm, because that’s where the power is. (Yes, gas mileage suffers as a result).

There’s a third engine option that might be the sweetest, although we still haven’t driven any Dart with it: The 184-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder is now standard in SXT, Limited and GT models.

Across the board, you can pair these with a Fiat-sourced six-speed manual gearbox. The non-turbo engines can also be ordered with a six-speed automatic transmission (provided, surprisingly, by Hyundai), while you can get the 1.4 turbo with a six-speed dual-clutch (automatic) gearbox as well.

We have one cautionary note about drivability: To eke out every last point of fuel economy, the transmissions are all seemingly tuned to keep the engines below 2,000 rpm in most circumstances—with tall gearing. That means that when power’s needed, not one but two downshifts are required—and the driver has to learn to anticipate and plan for that. It might not be so happy in hilly terrain.

The news is better on the handling and suspension front. The weight that hurts performance gives the car a nice planted feel, and Dodge has managed to imbue the electric power steering with enough feedback and road feel.

On Quality
The Dart is comfortable, spacious, and well designed inside; it rides well too, although tire roar can be an issue.

If the 2014 Dart seems a little bigger than you expected, that’s no mistake. Based on its interior volume, the EPA actually classifies it as a mid-size sedan—and by the numbers it’s right in the ballpark with its assumed bigger sibling, the Dodge Avenger.

That said, both the front and rear seats are very comfortable, and the cabin feels as wide as that of any competitor. The seating position is a little higher than in other compact sedans, with the driving position more legs-out than typical, but lower seat cushions are wide and long enough, yet supportive for a wide range of sizes.

Trunk space is surprisingly abundant, although the opening is quite small and constricted; for larger items you’ll need to use the wide-opening rear doors and split folding rear seatbacks.

The Dart has quite a lot of useful storage pockets, cubbies, and trays in the door and console. And the glovebox is large enough to accept a laptop computer. There’s also a storage compartment available in the front passenger seat, although some passengers noticed its reinforced cloth pull-tab.

Most interior surfaces are covered in soft-touch plastics, with color and texture used as accents–which matches the car’s sporty flavor–more than the more traditional wood and chrome. The softer materials match well with the harder plastics in places like the door pockets, though on the lower dash there are a few broad swathes of hard-textured black plastic that echo the bad old days.
Engine noise is a little more prominent than in other compact sedans, whether with the 1.4T or the 2.0-liter engine, but otherwise the Dart is relatively peaceful and quiet. There’s a fair amount of road noise on some surfaces, although it probably ranks as one of the quieter cars of its kind.

Dodge says it’s taken great care with the quality of its materials, including the operating mechanisms of its dashboard vents, and there’s a huge improvement over the Chrysler products of the past.

One surprise is that there’s no auto-up feature on at least the driver’s window–a feature that should be standard equipment on every car in our opinion.

On Safety
Ten standard airbags plus crash-test results that are almost unanimously top-notch mean this is one of the safest small-car picks.

The Dart has achieved what’s essentially a bulls-eye in U.S. crash-test ratings–with top five-star ratings overall from the federal government and Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That combination makes it one of the highest-rated cars for safety in this class–next to only the Honda Civic.

Every 2014 Dodge Dart comes standard with 10 airbags, along with the usual suite of electronic safety systems and also both blind-spot alert and cross-traffic detection, which are new to the compact segment. Outward visibility is admirable–far from the case in these days of strengthened roofs for rollover safety.

There’s one area where the Dart could have done better, and that’s in the new IIHS small overlap frontal test, where it achieved a second-best ‘acceptable’ rating. Chrysler notes that the car’s frame uses 68 percent high-strength steels.

We appreciate how Dodge has considered outward visibility with the Dart—both with a high-enough driving position, and with the glass triangular third window behind the door windows on each side. Some other compacts could take a few lessons.

On Features
With several class-exclusive features and lots of personalization options, the 2014 Dart impresses even in its crowded compact-car field.

Dodge claims that the Dart can be equipped in more than 100,000 different build combinations—a boast that should give buyers plenty of opportunity to find the 2014 Dart that suits them best.

While many rival models (like the Kia Forte or Hyundai Accent) are sold in a very limited number of builds, with just a few option packaged, Dodge has “unbundled” its most popular options so buyers can mix and match at will—and it says it can deliver a specially ordered car in 30 to 45 days.

The 2014 Dodge Dart starts at $15,995 for the base-level SE model, and SXT, Aero and GT trims are available.

The base-level Dart SE features 16-inch wheels and tires and power windows, but forgoes air conditioning. It also has manual windows and door locks, cloth seats, and an AM/FM radio with four speakers. Next up is the SXT, which adds premium cloth trim and door panel trim, a center console, keyless entry, a six-speaker AM/FM radio, air conditioning, and 17-inch alloy wheels and tires. Options include a nine-speaker premium audio system, the 1.4-liter turbo engine, a sunroof, a rather nice dark-grey “denim” interior fabric, and the latest Uconnect infotainment system, which includes an 8.4-inch center touchscreen.

Above that is the Dart Rallye model, starting at $18,995, with a unique front fascia, 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, fog lamps, premium cloth seats, and steering-wheel audio controls.

The Dart Limited—essentially the luxury model of the lineup—adds to the Rallye a chrome grille, contrast interior stitching, a power six-way driver’s seat, a 7-inch Thin Film Transistor instrument cluster, extra gauges, active grille shutters, and an array of standard and optional features that include 17-inch polished aluminum wheels, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, Nappa leather, heated front seats and steering wheel, and cross-path collision detection. Limited models for 2014 all include the automatic transmission and get the navigation and Uconnect system standard, as well as keyless entry with push-button start.

The top of the range is the high-performance Dart GT, which includes the higher-output 2.4-liter engine along with a host of appearance extras.
There’s also the Dart Aero model. It’s essentially an SXT model with additional fuel economy features–including low-rolling resistance tires, some mild aerodynamic enhancements, and lighter-weight suspension components.

On Green
Gas mileage for the 2014 Dodge Dart remain unimpressive–and we haven’t seen frugal real-world numbers from the 1.4T.

The 2014 Dodge Dart achieves the best gas mileage of any other vehicle in the Chrysler group; but among small cars, it’s nothing especially noteworthy.

The 1.4-liter turbo Dart is rated at 27 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 32 mpg. The base 2.0-liter model gets a combined rating of 29 mpg, with both those figures being for the six-speed manual gearbox version.

There’s also a mileage-minded Dart Aero model; it provides better city and highway mileage through lower weight and better aerodynamics. The Dart Aero is lighter than the standard 1.4-liter model with six-speed manual, with forged aluminum suspension components replacing some steel parts, and it has some small aerodynamic aids along with low-rolling resistance tires. Fuel economy is as high as 41 mpg highway.
Dodge notes that it uses seven different underbody panels to smooth airflow under the car, along with fitting active grille shutters to some models to block airflow through the engine compartment when cooling demands are low. All these items reduce aerodynamic drag.

Read more at: