Vital Stats

Engine:
2.4L I4
Power:
184 HP / 177 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3297 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
13.1 CU FT
MPG:
23 City / 33 HWY
Base Price:
$20,995
As Tested Price:
$23,875
My younger brother bought a Dodge Dart earlier this summer. It's a basic SXT, in Maximum Steel Metallic, with the 2.0-liter engine, a six-speed automatic transmission and not a whole lot else. Unfortunately, at the time, the Dart was one of the few cars in the compact class I'd never driven. I didn't know a lot about it, and therefore, didn't have a lot to say when he bought it. I think the words "based on an Alfa," popped out when I first saw it.

As it turns out, he's grown quite fond of the dark gray sedan, so it was with some degree of enthusiasm that I paid him a visit in this bright-orange Dart GT. I was excited to see what it was about the Dart that he enjoyed so much, despite my tester featuring a different engine, transmission and a lot more tech. After a week with the car, though, I must say: I don't quite see what all the fuss is about.

Driving Notes
  • The GT receives the most powerful engine in the Dart line – a 2.4-liter four-cylinder complete with 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. Mated to the buyer's choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, it's easy to imagine that the Dart's on-paper performance is more than adequate.
  • That said, this is a thrashy, buzzy and generally unlovable engine. Peak torque arrives at 4,800 rpm, or about 1,700 rpm south of redline, meaning it needs to be pushed to really deliver its grunt. This wouldn't be a problem were it not for the largely unpleasant noises coming from under the hood and out the back. It sounds like Dodge attempted to engineer a sporty soundtrack for the 2.4, but the resulting audio comes across as too rough.
  • Despite having to push the engine harder than I'd like, fuel economy was right around the 27-mile-per-gallon combined rating promised on the window sticker. The 33-mpg highway rating seems rather lofty, though, as the majority of my drive time was on the highway. Of course, if fuel economy is really your concern, you'll be better served by either the base 2.0-liter or 1.4-liter turbocharged four.
  • The other issue with the Dart's powertrain was my tester's six-speed manual. For starters, the shift knob's size sits somewhere between a tennis ball and a softball, meaning that even for someone with large hands like me, it's difficult to get the right kind of grip on it. Follow that up with overly long, almost Jeep-like throws for the shifter, and a clutch with too much travel and a vague, difficult-to-find catch point, and the 2.4/6MT combo is shaping up to be one we'd avoid.
  • The ride/handling of this sportiest Dart are somewhat unimpressive with regard to the general compact class. If you happen to value handling and feedback, we can't help but think you'd be better served by the Mazda3, as the Dodge feels rather disconnected both in terms of the chassis and steering. It isn't uncomfortable, though. The ride feels reasonably composed over rough sections of road and doesn't porpoise about if things do get bumpy.
  • If you're just looking for the class-exclusive or class-leading features, the Dart GT is a solid choice. We mentioned a few of them already, but they bear mentioning again: Chrysler's UConnect system is really one of the best touchscreen setup in the game (if not the best), both in terms of responsiveness and sheer size and clarity. The 8.4-inch display is, simply put, a must-have if you're considering not just the Dart, but any Chrysler Group product. The other options, like a heated steering wheel and the reconfigurable dash are just plain cool at this price point. That TFT display in the instrument cluster is a ridiculously pretty way of displaying normally boring stuff like trip and fuel economy data.
  • Ignore the optional goodies, though, and the cabin is merely par for the course. It's not as well done as a Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra, but aside from some of the harder, scratchier plastics, it's not a terrible place to spend time. The leather on the seats is rather cheap feeling, and I'm wondering how well it will age (to be fair, this is true of a lot of leathers used in the compact segment). Backseat space is solid, so long as Shaq isn't parked in the driver's seat.
  • Pricing for the Dart GT starts at a reasonable $20,995 and will automatically net owners a set of stylish 18-inch, five-spoke wheels, the more potent engine, push-button start, a power driver's seat, the 8.4-inch display (sans navigation), heated seats and steering wheel, the reconfigurable dash, sport suspension and satellite radio. From there, the options list is relatively slim. Owners can add navigation to their touchscreen display for a very reasonable $495, swap the silver wheels for hyper black wheels for an extra $395, or fit a $995 Sun/Sound package that adds a nine-speaker Alpine stereo and a sunroof. All in, my car totaled a tidy $23,875, including $995 for destination.
  • There is much to recommend about the Dart, particularly if you're clamoring for the latest batch of automotive tech. Its huge central display and gorgeous TFT screen in the instrument cluster are markedly better than what's in the rest of the class, making the Dart the obvious choice for the tech savvy. Those who prioritize ride and handling, however, are likely to be better served elsewhere. The Dart's middling driving character is overshadowed by newer enthusiastic offerings like the Mazda3, while those who value a bit more comfort and refinement will be better served with a Ford Focus or Chevrolet Cruze.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 139 Comments
      dennis_helferich
      • 1 Year Ago
      As the owner of a 2013 Dart with the 2.0 w/auto trans all I can say is don't listen to anyone on here who has not driven or even sat in the new Dart. I looked at a lot of cars before I bought my Dart. I found things I liked and did not like in each car. No car is perfect. I decided on the Dart mainly because of how much car I got for the money I paid. I got the touch screen, backup camera, sunroof, 17in hyperblack wheels, one year of free satalite radio, fog lights, and more for just over $18K. Unlike what some who have never driven the car have said this car is fun to drive. I can't wait to get in it and go somewhere. On top of that I'm getting right at 35 MPG in combined city hwy. driving. Is it the fastest car in the class? I don't think so, but coming from a guy who has owned a Mustang Shelby GT I find the performance to be just fine. The writer of the article should have let his brother write the piece.
        Hoale
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dennis_helferich
        "I got the touch screen, backup camera, sunroof, 17in hyperblack wheels, one year of free satalite radio, fog lights, and more for just over $18K. " Sound like your exactly who the writer said this car would appeal to. I personally don't care about satellite radio, touch screens and backup camera (who really needs this in a small car like this!?).
      kagroyalo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think one should take this review with a grain of salt, as handling, ride, steering and interior quality are all subjective. I would bet the handling and ride demerits are due to the low profile tires. I can't say this is the greatest 4 cylinder but what engine besides a small block V-8 or a Ferrari V-12 sounds good at 4,800 + RPM. With good looks, a lot of available options (that can be ordered a la carte) at a good price point. I say take the Dart, along with the Cruze, Elantra and Focus for a test drive on the same route and may the best car win. I think a lot of folks will be impressed, just have an open buying mind and give it a chance
        foxtrot685
        • 1 Year Ago
        @kagroyalo
        You can make this argument on every single car AutoBlog reviews...
          johnnythemoney
          • 1 Year Ago
          @foxtrot685
          That is true, but doesn't devalue his point. Car reviews are like ***holes, everybody has one and they all stink. That said, I trust my own experience to judge what I need rather than that of a non trained generic journalist turned into an automotive journalist who just tested an exotic the other day and definitely doesn't know what I need. These guys do their job, write reviews and I like to read them but that's it. They are not R&D engineers, automotive technicians but also they are not Joe Average. So yeah, we got to use tons of salt reading them.
        ravenosa
        • 1 Year Ago
        @kagroyalo
        I don't think I'd ever bother test driving this Dodge in the first place. The exterior is a bore and the interior looks absolutely terrible, and reading this review did nothing for my curiousity. If I'm in the market for a FWD car, I'd probably stick to the Focus, Golf, Mazda 3, whatever Kia has, Civic, etc...
      foxtrot685
      • 1 Year Ago
      It needs to be noted in this article that for 2014, the 2.4L engine in the GT will be standard equipment on all trims with the exception of SE and Aero models.
      gr8scotny
      • 1 Year Ago
      Did you actually drive the Dart hard? at speed into the corners? I may be biased as a Dodge Salesman, BUT, it is a pretty cool car. Tail lights are the best on any car. Pretty nice stance. Blacked out head lights look cool. I find for a first year car it is pretty fun. I don't think the Fiesta was the best in bunch the first year out..or the Civic...Let's see what happens as time goes on. All of my customers have been happy with their Darts...young and old alike. Dart is a good name. Back in the day the Dart was the smallest car in the line up, so there is the lineage...
        Jon J
        • 2 Months Ago
        @gr8scotny

        I own a 2013 Dart Limited and your are correct. It is a great car! It actually handles and rides better than the Elantra and Civic that I test drove. The interior is very cool!. I didn't get the leather option. I liked the cloth better. Very good quality.

        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @gr8scotny
        Tail lights are the best on any car!! You know you are running out of things to praise when you have to mention the tail lights.
          safeerexus
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          Taillights aren't the only things... there's the configurable TFT instruments, ergonomic touchscreen, parking sensors (class rarity), exterior & interior color options etc. Sometimes greatness requires being idiosyncratic. The Dart is my pick over Civic & Fiesta anyday & it looks good on the road unlike the other two common cars.
          flychinook
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          So, nice tail lights, and some nice interior features. And it "looks good on the road". Sounds like a kit car, with a nice interior. Using a Yugo powertrain.
      jeff
      • 1 Year Ago
      I absolutely LOVE mine. It has every option you can think of and is smooth and peppy. Cant say enough about it.
      AngeloD
      • 1 Year Ago
      From the article: ",,,we can't help but think you'd be better served by the Mazda3," Is the author referring to himself using the royal "we", really? No wonder the author doesn't like the Dart, anything less than a Bentley is obviously beneath the princess. The Dart is a far better car than this crap review would indicate.
        cpmanx
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AngeloD
        "We" is a quite standard way of expressing the collective editorial voice/opinion in a magazine or web site. That doesn't mean the review is accurate, but going after such fine points of grammar is really splitting hairs...like complaining about the size of the shift knob.
        Gorgenapper
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AngeloD
        We are not amused.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AngeloD
        [blocked]
          AngeloD
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Aaron N. Did you even read the article? Let me explain again. And I'll type...slowly...so..you...can....follow...along... This is not a review presented on behalf of the "editors" of Autoblog or the website as a whole. It is presented as the author's personal opinion about the Dart. If this article was presented on behalf of the whole website, why does the author spend most of the article referring to himself in the first person narrative? "...My younger brother bought a Dodge Dart earlier this summer..." "... I think the words "based on an Alfa," popped out when I first saw it..." "... so it was with some degree of enthusiasm that I paid him a visit in this bright-orange Dart GT. I was excited to see..." The author later offers an opinion as "...we recommend..." Changing the narrative like that is an odd thing to do and the author does deserve to be called on it. And, of the approximately 2000 posts I have made to Autoblog over the years, maybe 5 of them are critical of the writing style of an author. Right, what an OCD nitpicker I am, eh?
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      A choice of 3 powerplants- and none of them particularly good at anything.
      Ricardo Portales
      • 1 Year Ago
      You know what? The DODGE DART GT with it's 2.4 engine and the customer's choice on any trans combination means sportiness over any other compact model in market right now. It's athletic personality is unique, in all it's for a different kind of young sporty people. If you're one of them you'll love this car and you'll also love the fact that its design is based on a ALPHA ROMEO plataform.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ricardo Portales
        [blocked]
        flychinook
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ricardo Portales
        Is it possible to plagiarize a sales brochure?
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @flychinook
          If that's what he's doing, you'd think it would be better written.
        NightFlight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ricardo Portales
        The Mazda 3 would like to have a word with you, all while having a FAR superior interior and driving experience.
      brgtlm
      • 1 Year Ago
      Such high hopes for a class-leading Dodge compact and it just has too many flaws to be more than just average in the class due to noncompetitive engines, clunky transmissions and bad MPG.
      Believe It
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Dart strikes me as a "design-by-committee" vehicle in every iteration. I envision a group of Chrysler/Fiat employees sitting around a large table, spitballing ideas - while someone frantically scribbles on a whiteboard. Maybe if they had a decisive leader running the Dart program the car would develop a personality and some direction with regard to its evolution. Right now - other than a price point car - I don't know what the damned thing is.
        Bill Burke
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Believe It
        It's almost too good in many ways, seriously. The "committee" actually got almost everything right and blew a few details that doomed the launch. Hard for any committee to put the ketchup back in the bottle after you begin to pour. Sure you know what the Dart is, a flawed diamond in the rough. Have faith, Dodge will get it polished soon. The "committee" says so.
      Pat
      • 1 Year Ago
      I always root for the underdogs ... especially when I feel that they're not being treated fairly. However, I can't find anything interesting about this car ... it's not particularly good looking (GT or otherwise), it's not particularly powerful ... aI can't comment on the ride because I've never been in one, but that doesn't seem stellar either. None of the other cars out there are perfect either ... but they all have at least one thing going for them ... all this has is "it based on an Alfa" I'm trying Dodge, but meet me half way!
        Jesus!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Pat
        More back seat room than a Focus, better touchscreen than Focus, cheaper than a Focus, more cohesive design than a Focus. Now I had a Focus, a 12, and liked it a lot but the front was always ugly to me. The backseat is a joke. MFT while I really like the setup of course had its issues. Mine was gen 1. I have driven a dart and will say Fiat engines are absolute crap. That, and a mediocrely styled interior are what holds the Dart back.
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesus!
          Hey, dumbass, Fiat didn't build the 2.4L engine in this test car.
          d
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesus!
          are you kidding about the back seat room? The Dart has no back seat room. If you are over 5' 8" your head hits the ceiling. At 6' I had my ear pressed against the headliner.
          Jesus!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesus!
          No I am not. I am 5' 7" and anyone my height or above sitting behind me were being punished. There is no excuse for poor back seat room in these cars. Focus is the worst offender though. I have been in an Elantra and while it is ugly, I fit comfortably in the back with plenty of legroom.
      Justin Ooms
      • 1 Year Ago
      A boring car, outmatched by cars sometimes 20 years older.
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