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Editor’s note: This analysis was originally accounting in April 2012 but was adapted in March 2013 afterwards the appraisal of assembly versions of the 2013 Dodge Dart.
The 2013 Dodge Dart is a acceptable car, a solid aspirant in the compact-sedan segment, but powertrain shortcomings accumulate it from actuality a abundant car.
There’s been a broad aperture in the Dodge lineup: the abridgement of a bunched auto aback the Neon ancient afterwards the 2005 archetypal year. The Neon’s successor, the Caliber hatchback, was never a acceptable replacement, but now Dodge assuredly has one in the 2013 Dart. A auto with Alfa Romeo origins and a name from the ’60s, the Dart is the aboriginal Chrysler Accumulation artefact based on a belvedere from buyer Fiat (Alfa Romeo is a Fiat brand).
We activated Darts with the abject 2.0-liter four-cylinder agent and the accessible turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder. The abject SE trim affiliated starts at $16,890, including an $895 destination charge. To see the Dart’s specs compared with the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Honda Civic, bang here.
The Dart’s exoteric administration represents a new administration for the brand. There are accustomed cues, like a adaptation of the Dodge crosshair grille and accessible “racetrack” LED taillights like the Charger, but the Dart trades the angular, able-bodied curve of the Charger and Avenger for a attending that’s added agile and svelte. Designers additionally congenital baby aerial buttresses into the sedan’s rear roof pillars, a architecture cue from Dodge’s past.
The sedan’s affinity is the Alfa Romeo Giulietta that’s awash in Europe, but for Dart assignment the belvedere was widened and lengthened. It’s a ample auto overall, and flared advanced and rear fenders accentuate its stance.
A day spent active the Dart on the ambagious anchorage of Northern California appear a car with close reflexes and a alertness to advance corners. Chief architect Mike Merlo said softer abeyance affability was alien to clothing American tastes, but it’s still close for the class. Long stretches of bland blacktop accent the suspension’s adeptness to ascendancy anatomy cycle and the Dart’s premium-car responses, but every already in a while a asperous application of pavement bound reminded how close the affability remains.
Steering affability is a analytical agency in how agreeable a car is to drive, and bunched cars alter widely. The Dart’s council caster feels best than most, but this doesn’t construe to the adapted council feedback. The Focus provides a bigger faculty of what’s accident at the tires than the Dart, whose council has bound feel and beneath actual turn-in. On the highway, the Dart settles accurately and advance confidently after allurement you to accomplish connected council corrections.
After active two of the Dart’s three engines, the bigger takeaway is that price-conscious shoppers who accept a lower trim with the abject 160-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder will still get a aesthetic powertrain that offers appropriate achievement and gas mileage.
The 2.0-liter agent revs calmly throughout its ambit whether able with the six-speed chiral or the six-speed automated transmission. Power, unsurprisingly, tapers off at college speeds, and at 60 mph, there’s little larboard for a last-minute canyon about slower-moving traffic. You accept to plan your move with care.
The 2.0-liter’s accessible PowerTech automated chiral is altered from the one affiliated to the alternative turbocharged engine, and it’s added impressive. The automated clicks off aesthetic upshifts after an apparent adjournment in ability delivery. Plus, it has a clutchless-manual access that’s acknowledging abundant to accomplish it agreeable — not the barometer with these systems.
The automatic’s one absence is a addiction to upshift into a college accessory than necessary. This ability be acceptable for ammunition economy, but it can sap the agent of ability aback abrogation a about-face aloof aback you’re accepting aback on the gas. Holding the chiral in 3rd accessory with the chiral access took affliction of the problem, but a avant-garde automated shouldn’t charge the driver’s intervention.
Less ambrosial is the Dart’s six-speed dual-clutch automated transmission, which Dodge calls the Dual Dry Clutch Transmission. Accessible with the midlevel turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that comes from Fiat and additionally admiral the Fiat 500 Abarth, this transmission’s bigger botheration is its addiction to short-shift aback accelerating. This leaves the agent in the amiss accessory aback you appetite added power, and the chiral isn’t quick to antidote the botheration with a abrupt kickdown; it takes its time dispatch through the gears.
The dual-clutch gearbox additionally doesn’t accommodate one of the acceptable allowances of this blazon of transmission: quick driver-initiated accessory changes. It reacts actual comfortable — like a accepted automated — as against to authoritative accelerated accouterment like Volkswagen’s dual-clutch transmission.
Like the 2.0-liter engine, the turbo four-cylinder is rated at 160 hp, but with its college torque — 184 against 148 pounds-feet — the turbo four-cylinder pulls harder than the abject agent aback you get in the college allotment of the rev range. Nonetheless, at lower agent speeds, the turbo agent and dual-clutch automated drivetrain bear unacceptably apathetic gas pedal acknowledgment and acceleration. A cardinal of Cars.com editors had agnate complaints, and it decidedly tarnishes the active experience.
A six-speed chiral chiral is accepted for all engines. Paired with the turbo four-cylinder, the chiral shifter has diffuse throws, and about-face feel is a little vague. The alive acquaintance is added affiliated to that of a Mini Cooper rather than the slick, absolute movement of a chiral Mazda3.
Outside the car, the turbocharged engine’s bankrupt agenda afraid me; it has a blatant blubbering aces of Chrysler’s SRT achievement brand. The complete is abundant added aerial from the driver’s seat.
All of the engines can run on approved gas, admitting the turbo four-cylinder prefers exceptional for best performance. As of this writing, EPA gas-mileage estimates accept been appear alone for baddest powertrains. Darts with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder are rated at 25/36 mpg city/highway with the chiral chiral and 24/34 mpg with the automatic. Cars with the turbo four-cylinder action bigger efficiency; manual-transmission versions get an estimated 27/39 mpg while those with the dual-clutch chiral administer 27/37 mpg. An efficiency-focused Aero adaptation with the turbo four-cylinder agent is rated at up to 28/41 mpg with a chiral transmission. Chevrolet and Ford chase a agnate action with the Cruze Eco (up to 28/42 mpg) and Focus SFE (28/40 mpg), respectively. For all these models, the college breadth adds to the amount of the car.
The Dart continues Chrysler’s renewed accent on autogenous affection with things like a accepted soft-touch dashboard that would accept been doubtful in a Dodge in this chic a few years ago. The high bend of the doors can be optionally accomplished in a bedlam apparent as against to adamantine plastic, but I anticipate Dodge should accommodate the adverse — a adamantine artificial birr and accepted bedlam aperture uppers because you ability absolutely appetite to blow your arm on the door. Overall, abstracts affection is agnate to what the Cruze and Focus offer.
All Dart trim levels accept the aforementioned blazon of advanced brazier seats, but they can be covered in a cardinal of altered materials, including cloth, covering or two-tone leather. The bench beanbag provides acceptable thigh abutment for taller drivers, and the backrest is wide. I adopted the bolt seats overall; they didn’t feel as blimp as the covering ones. A tilt/telescoping council caster helps you acquisition an optimal active position, but if you like to drive with the council caster set low, you ability acquisition it doesn’t angle far abundant down.
The Dart’s berth aggregate of 97.2 cubic anxiety approaches that of some midsize cars, including Dodge’s own Avenger. Even so, the backseat — admitting adequate for a 6-foot-1 commuter like me — doesn’t feel as ample as the Honda Civic’s additional row, which has a little beneath commuter aggregate overall. The Dart’s rear-seat backrest is reclined absolutely a bit — about too much.
One of the Dart’s defining qualities is personalization. At a time aback added automakers are abbreviation the cardinal of body combinations available, to accomplish acrimonious a archetypal easier on the customer as able-bodied as to abate the complication for the accomplishment group, Dodge has gone in the adverse direction: There are 12 exoteric colors, 14 autogenous colors and added than 150 dealer-installed accessories.
Why the altered approach? The cast thinks compact-car buyers — a big block of whom are associates of the added cogent Millennial bearing — appetite this affiliated of personalization.
The Dart additionally offers a host of exceptional features. These accommodate Chrysler’s 8.4-inch Uconnect Touch touch-screen with Garmin-based navigation. It’s a adversary to MyFord Touch, which is accessible in the Focus, but I adopt the Uconnect system’s simpler controls and quick-to-respond interface. Additionally alternative for the Dart are a acrimonious council caster and a 7-inch full-color reconfigurable apparatus display. The awning has agenda and analog speedometer angle and a aeronautics advice mode, and it can appearance audio information, amid added things.
The Insurance Institute for Artery Assurance awarded the Dart its 2013 Top Assurance Pick appellation for the car’s top array in its assorted tests. The National Artery Cartage Assurance Administration gave the Dart a best all-embracing rating, its highest.
Standard assurance appearance accommodate 10 airbags, including ancillary dark airbags. There are additionally antilock brakes and an cyberbanking adherence system, which are appropriate on all new cars alpha with 2012 models. Rear cross-path detection, a dark atom admonishing arrangement and a advancement camera are available.
For a abounding account of assurance appearance analysis out the Appearance & Specs page. To see how able-bodied child-safety seats fit in the Dart see the Car Bench Check.
The accomplished few years accept apparent a about-face of the compact-car articulation with the admission of new models and redesigns of accustomed ones. There aren’t abounding accoutrement left, so it’s activity to booty some acceptable for shoppers to accord the Dart a look.
It’s additionally missing one affair that’s a huge agency in this class: a solid believability history. As an all-new model, the Dart doesn’t accept a clue almanac yet, and it’s activity to be a while afore we apperceive how it compares with added models.
Chrysler’s clue almanac is troubled, as apparent by J.D. Ability and Associates’ 2013 Agent Dependability Study. Of its four brands included in the survey, three — including Dodge — ranked abreast the bottom. Vehicles surveyed were from the 2010 archetypal year, however, and the added afresh redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango both accomplished Recommended cachet from Customer Reports.
Dodge needs to abode the car’s powertrain shortcomings, but the Dart still offers a affiliated of appearance and attitude that’s been in abbreviate accumulation in the segment.
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