The Dodge Dart, Cadillac XTS and Lincoln MKS all failed to earn a "Recommended" rating from Consumer Reports. When it came to the compact Dart, the organization's testers thought the vehicle offered a quiet cabin, solid-feeling chassis and nimble suspension, but the new model ultimately fell short of the coveted rating due to powertrain issues. The institute's reviewers found the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to be underpowered and noted "drivability issues" when the available turbocharged 1.4-liter four was paired with the optional dual-clutch transmission (some of our editors disliked it paired with the six-speed manual). CR also dinged the latter powerplant for sounding "raspy." For what it's worth, we think the forced-induction engine offers an excellent and playful exhaust note, but that's just us.

As for the XTS, CR lauded the car for its luxurious cabin, but the vehicle's experience was dulled by its finicky CUE infotainment interface. Overall, the big Cadillac scored much higher than its cross-town rival from Lincoln. While testers found the American luxury sedan to offer a quiet ride and quality fit and finish, they felt the MKS delivered a "cramped driving position, ungainly handling, uncomposed ride, and limited visibility." Ouch. At the end of the day, both cars fell short of rivals from Japan, Germany and Korea. Check out the full press release below with more details, along with CR's musings on the Chevrolet Spark and Lexus ES.
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Consumer Reports Finds Dodge Dart Is Promising Small Sedan But Has Room For Improvement

Cadillac XTS and Lincoln MKS Fall Short of Expectations in Luxury Sedan Category

YONKERS, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Dodge Dart, the first all-new model to emerge from the Fiat-Chrysler alliance, earned praise from Consumer Reports for its solid feel, handling and ride, and upscale options. But ultimately it didn't score high enough to be recommended in a very competitive small sedan class.

Consumer Reports testers found that the Dodge Dart has a relatively quiet cabin, its handling is fairly nimble, and the ride is taut yet compliant. However, where the Dart stalls out is its powertrains. The standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder feels underpowered, while the optional 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is raspy and has drivability issues when mated with the optional dual-clutch automated manual transmission. Tested were the 2.0-liter SXT ($20,680) and 1.4-liter Rallye ($24,490) trims – neither of which scored high enough to be recommended.

"The Dart is the first decent compact car from Dodge in decades," said Jake Fisher, Director, Consumer Reports Auto Test Center. "It has some solid positives. But overall it can't yet measure up to the best in class."

Consumer Reports also tested two big, opulent American luxury sedans in its January issue: the Cadillac XTS and the Lincoln MKS. While the XTS ($57,200) scored much higher overall than the MKS ($50,070) in the head-to-head matchup both cars underwhelmed in a class dominated by German, Japanese, and Korean models. Consumer Reports engineers found the Cadillac to be wonderfully luxurious, with a very spacious and well-appointed cabin. But it's hampered by its CUE infotainment system, which testers found to be convoluted and frustrating.

The Lincoln MKS offers plenty of features and has a quiet cabin with excellent fit and finish. But the car is hampered by its cramped driving position, ungainly handling, uncomposed ride, and limited visibility. With an overall road-test score of 60, the MKS is the lowest-Rated luxury sedan in class, lagging far behind previously-tested standouts like the Audi A6 and Infiniti M37.

The full report and road test results are available at ConsumerReports.org on November 20th and in the January issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands November 29 th. Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR's ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

The Chevrolet Spark was also tested in the Consumer Reports January issue. The four-door subcompact gets excellent fuel economy of 34 mpg overall and 42 on the highway. CR's engineers found that it has a surprisingly useable rear seat, a comprehensive assortment of features, and is affordably priced at $15,420. However, its sluggish acceleration, stiff and jittery ride and very noisy cabin dropped its overall score to a meager 34. This is one of the lowest scoring cars tested by CR in recent years and is too low to recommend.

Rounding out the latest test group was the Lexus ES. Consumer Reports engineers gave it high marks for its comfy, quiet interior, impressive hybrid and V6 drivetrains, and excellent fuel economy, especially in hybrid form. However this redesign took a step back in ride and interior refinement from the previous ES. Although its handling didn't impress and its controls were newly complicated, both tested trims – the ES350 (43,702) and the hybrid ES330h ($44,017) – scored high enough overall to be recommended and rank among CR's higher-Rated upscale sedans.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

Consumer Reports has B-Roll available upon request of the Dodge Dart, Cadillac XTS, Lincoln MKS, Chevy Spark, and Lexus ES.


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  • 101 Comments
      Maria Engblom
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sounds to me like Consumer Reports is back on the Japaneese auto makers payroll
      Mike Hunt
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't need CR to tell me the Dart is just an ill-proportioned, overpriced little car which essentially looks like like a warmed over Neon. Nice try, but it's not competitive and never will be. Just a fact.
        fuzzyfish6
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike Hunt
        Opinions are fact now? Gotcha.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike Hunt
        [blocked]
          CJ_313
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Sea Urchin: How do you determine that the Dart is a "turd?" Sounds like a personal opinion to me. You also mention defaulting to the Corolla for reliability, but the Dart is brand new, so how can you assume that it isn't reliable? quuppa70 didn't attempt to discredit you, you did that on your own by stating your own "opinions" as fact. The Dart is a very nice car.
          j0nny5
          • 2 Years Ago
          Have you driven one? Just curious, because it smells like you're talking out of your ass.
          quuppa70
          • 2 Years Ago
          ..Corolla, fun and more fun and great looks Mazda3 2.5, great interior...Focus, value....Elantra. lol
          • 2 Years Ago
          [blocked]
          CJ_313
          • 2 Years Ago
          That last part of my post is "my" opinion btw.
      sinistro79
      • 2 Years Ago
      Consumer Reports does not understand Italian vehicles...this is why the Dart did not receive a recommendation. When someone criticizes a proper engine for sounding "raspy" it means that have gotten too use to Toyotas with no character. This is a shortcoming against the reviewers of consumer reports rather than shortcoming of the Dart.
        SpikedLemon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @sinistro79
        It's no Italian vehicle. Designed by and for Americans as an inexpensive vehicle. Chrysler spent a lot of time removing all the Italian character. Probably the reason behind a lot of Road and Tracks comments on soft suspension, mushy shifting etc.... Chrysler probably heard the negative reviews on the Ford Focus' DCT and decided to "fix" theirs.
        gnvlscdt23f
        • 2 Years Ago
        @sinistro79
        Newsflash: the Dart is intended for sale in the US, not Italy. "Character" isn't a big sales plus here, especially in what's basically a commuter car. And it'd be different if it were really fast, but to 30 the Elantra beat it. To 60, it was only half a second faster than the 3 with GDI (which got much better mileage). And in passing, it was only a tenth of a second faster than the Elantra or Corolla. This 3 bested it here, by .3 sec. And none of these cars have a wonky transmission like the Italian one in the Dart.
      EUniqe
      • 2 Years Ago
      here's a tip, americans, stop building small cars. You were never good at it, you still aren't so just stop trying. Powerful sedans and coupe's, pickup trucks (whatever they are) and other industrial equipment is what you're good at. Focus on that. I mean, you're not going to expect a Greek to produce better furniture than a Swede, are you.
        The Wasp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EUniqe
        I have been to Sweden and purchased furniture at Ikea. I wouldn't be surprised if a Greek could produce better furniture.
        j0nny5
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EUniqe
        Just bought a Sonic Turbo. The goofy smile on my face whenever I snick down to third coming out of a switchback disagrees with you.
          CJ_313
          • 2 Years Ago
          @j0nny5
          @ thequebecerinfrance: The Cruze Eco returned nearly best in class MPG's in a recent publication that I read, and is mid-pack in city/highway MPG with other compacts, especially now that Hyundai/Kia have recently been taken down a peg. Your bias is laughable.
          thequebecerinfrance
          • 2 Years Ago
          @j0nny5
          At the price this car is sold and with the mileage you're getting this car is not a good buy, Good you love your car it is not a class leader.
      foxtrot685
      • 2 Years Ago
      So basically, it fails to earn a recommended rating because it does everything a Corolla does not? It's fun to drive, has modern day technology, has a personality, oh and its fun to drive. I guess Dodge should have just used a dated 1.8L engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission, that would have really gotten CR's mojo going!!
      budwsr25
      • 2 Years Ago
      The XTS is garbage. Who ever designed it needs to be fired. People think the dart is a 4door sports car. It is just a econo box like the original neon. It just has a bunch if crap that makes it flashy. I wish someone would build a car with out the extras and flash like they did in the 90's. Just give me a car with 2 airbags, ABS, and a V6 and call it good.
      Don't worry about it
      • 2 Years Ago
      I guess Fiat would not pay to have that status. Consumer reports is a joke.
      johnnythemoney
      • 2 Years Ago
      There is something I keep on not figuring out. We supposedly want smaller cars and even more, we want more efficient cars which use less fuel to cover the required distance. Yet we call a 160 bhp engine underpowered, and I take the Dodge Dart as an example but many others could be considered. How come the rest of the world can live with much less powerful cars of the same size, or even larger? Do we really need such power? Best yet, do we use it? Some people could really use a power-gauge, sort of like on the Veyron. Talking about it, it must be depressing owning a 1.001 bhp car and always seeing such gauge screaming ""100 BHP"". Anyway, I can't accept such a statement as that such engine is underpowered. That's completely subjective and as I said in most countries (I'd recommend a trip to Europe to all CR reviewers) that engine would be considered powerful, without taking into consideration the way those ponies are delivered, or the feeling doing so. A certain driver quite likely could live with as little as 100 bhp in this cars, while some gearhead wouldn't be OK even in twice the offered power. If we really don't like to spend so much at the gas station we should also change our habits and supposed needs. Driving a Fiat Panda with a pretty old tech 1.2 liter engine with 54 stunning bhp could be a revelation for most people. Considering also the average and allowed top speed in the States, it wouldn't be as out of place as you may think.
        Street King
        • 2 Years Ago
        @johnnythemoney
        I've driven a 54 HP Panda that I got as a rental last time I was in Europe. Downshifts to 3rd gear on HIGHWAY inclines were the norm, and riding 1st gear up any slow speed hills was also. I am CERTAIN the 2.0L Dart would feel like a rocket ship in comparison...and the 350 HP AWD SRT4 Dart would feel like traveling at warp speed.
          johnnythemoney
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Street King
          I beg to differer, and its sale numbers are there to prove. And given I've driven the aforementioned Panda also on the motorway (at speeds higher than 80 mph), I'm wondering what sort of driving style you showcased there. Seriously. The Yaris is an excellent car no doubt, but it's trunk is ridiculous and the the dashboard is definitely not free of squeaks, sharp edged non-finished plastics and less than inspiring air vents where you can see the white unpainted side of the small blades. First hand experience from my cousin car. Not saying all Yaris are worthless though.
      Klink
      • 2 Years Ago
      CR once again takes a stick to the domestic fanboy beehive. Let's the buzzing begin! *Eats popcorn and watches with glee*
      EChid
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is SUCH a misleading title. First year models like the XTS and Dart are not going to be recommended until CR knows more about their reliability. Since they have no previous examples to base their expectations off of (whereas the new ES is similar in many ways to the old ES) they CAN'T recommend it.
        gnvlscdt23f
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EChid
        The Dart scored too low regardless. The XTS will get the nod next survey if the news is good.
      Street King
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hey Autoblog, how about some real journalism for once and do a story about the correlation between a CR exec being married to a high up Toyota exec and how that had an effect on Toyotas being "reccomended" in the middle of them taking top honors for recalling more cars than any other company on earth? Do a story on that - unless you're chicken sh*t.
      Renaurd
      • 2 Years Ago
      When Consumer Reports gets their hands on anything more complex than a Hamilton Beach Toaster, they call in their high tech guy,..........Archie Bunker.
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