Is A Dodge Dart A Good First Car – Chrysler must have a desire, an inferiority complex, or a burning desire to finish third in the domestic Big Three. Thirty years ago, Lee Iacocca asked Congress to provide a loan guarantee to keep Chrysler’s fleet afloat. The company had a reunion with the Grim Reaper in the 90s, followed by a full Chapter 11 reorganization three years ago. Daimler-Benz, Cerberus, the United States And signs of ownership by the Canadian government and Fiat have made the Pentastar brand look like a toxic orphan.
But Chrysler kept bouncing back with successful products that saved the bacon: the K-car 30 years ago, the LH family in the 90s, and the 300 sedan in the aughts. Now it’s the Dodge Dart’s turn to prove that Chrysler is back from the brink to compensate for the underperforming Dodge Caliber.
Is A Dodge Dart A Good First Car
The Dart is the first child of the Chrysler-Fiat marriage, which is still in the honeymoon phase. By achieving 40 mpg combined in EPA testing (not window-sticker numbers, but unadjusted mileage figures), the Dart alone earned Fiat a five percent increase in ownership, increasing its controlling interest to 58.5 percent. The Beneficiaries’ Voluntary Union — run by long-suffering UAW Chrysler workers — owns the remaining 41.5 percent.
How Reliable Is A Dodge Dart?
Like previous rescue cars from this company, the Dart is tasked with mega missions. Step one: Break into the competitive and fast-growing compact-sedan class where 20 or so Asian, German and domestic models are fighting for survival. Step Two: Share the basics with the various Dodges, Chryslers and Jeeps of the future. Step Three: Bring the SRT performance brand down into the $30,000-$40,000 price range from the $100,000 Viper and the $50,000 Grand Cherokee and Charger.
What made this ambitious task possible was the warm and loving parents who protected Chrysler from the cold. To cut a year or more from the Dart’s gestation process, Chrysler-Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne tipped over one of the most admired platforms in the alliance’s catalog—the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Born two years ago with a classic name and refreshing front-wheel drive technology, the Giulietta has earned Alfa major acclaim across Europe.
Aware of the consequences of what might be their last shot at prosperity, Chrysler’s designers and engineers proceeded cautiously. In terms of styling, the Dart is a Charger with a pointed nose and less bad-boy attitude. Size-wise, it straddles the compact/mid-size range. By stretching the Giulietta’s 103.7-inch wheelbase to 106.4 inches, adding more than a foot to the overall length, and increasing the width by 1.2 inches, the Fiat-Chrysler alliance has expanded its compact US sedan to 106.4 inches. The spacious platform also has 110.3 cubic feet of interior and trunk space. That gives the Dart more space than the compact class leaders — Ford Focus, Honda Civic, and Toyota Corolla — combined.
To speed up the attack plan, the Dart will be a withering attack of five models, six powertrains, 14 color and trim combinations, and three wheel sizes, which will be on sale from May until the end of this year. The $16,790 base SE is powered by a new 160-hp 2.0-liter DOHC engine, designed and built in the USA. stroke, 16-valve four features variable valve timing and port injection.
Dodge Dart Limited First Test
The $18,790 Dart SXT adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, remote keyless entry, power mirrors and locks, split-folding rear seats (versus the SE’s one-piece folding backrest), and a six-speaker entertainment system as standard equipment. The SXT’s options list includes an 8.4-inch center stack touchscreen; navigation system; rear view camera; and a 506-watt, nine-speaker (plus subwoofer) sound system.
The $19,790 Rallye mid-trim Child sports a more aggressive black-accented front fascia, projector fog lights, dual exhaust tips, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and an optional SOHC 1.4-liter turbocharged four Is. Fiat 500 Abarth. The iron-block engine has the same 160 hp as the base four, but a more pleasing 184 lb-ft of torque (versus the 2.0-liter’s 145 lb-ft).
The $20,790 Dart brings a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, the aforementioned touch screen, a reconfigurable electronic gauge cluster, and some chrome exterior trim bits as standard equipment for the Party Limited; Limited list options include Nappa leather seats, heated steering wheel, NAV, rear cross detection and polished aluminum wheels.
The top model, due later this year, is the $23,290 Dart R/T powered exclusively by another US-designed TigerShark engine. This 2.4-liter four, with 184 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque, combines the base engine’s 88 mm bore with a 97 mm stroke. Like the 1.4-liter turbo, this engine is equipped with Fiat’s MultiAir system, which uses electronically controlled hydraulic fluid between the cam lobes and the valves to vary intake and lift times. A sports suspension and 18-inch wheels are standard on the R/T, as are exclusive Nappa leather seats, dual-zone climate control, and a heated steering wheel and heated front seats.
Dodge Dart Refuses To Die, Three New Models Sell In Q3 2022
Three transmissions make for a three-engine cadre. A Fiat-provided six-speed manual is standard for all trim levels. The PowerTec automatic, also available in six speeds, comes from Hyundai’s factory in West Point, Georgia, and is optional on all Darts except Darts equipped with the 1.4-liter turbo engine. The optional automatic transmission with the engine is a dual-clutch design also provided by Fiat.
Beyond the nuts and bolts, it is imperative to persuade customers to destroy it with a long list of safety, entertainment and communication features. To meet these obligations, each Dart has 10 airbags—three more than the Mercedes C-Class and four more than the Audi A4. The Dart’s optional rain-sensing wipers, blind-spot monitoring and a backup camera are rare in the compact class. Moving beyond cup holders and door slots for drink holders, this new Dodge has a glove box big enough to swallow an iPad and a secret storage space under the front passenger seat cushion.
Since the 2.4-liter four-cylinder won’t hit the market for several months, our Northern California test drive was limited to the three middle trim levels. The good news is that the solid underpinning and electrically conductive ZF rack-and-pinion power steering, made by Alfa chassis pros, are happily at work here. Dart strut-type front suspension, independent trailing arm rear axle, and monotube dampers are tuned with an emphasis on roadholding and stable body control at the expense of isolation. Compared to our favorite compacts – the Ford Focus and Mazda 3 – the Dart has more steering feel and feedback. In the middle, there is no sluggishness, and the increase in steering effort in the turn is delightfully linear. The front and rear crossmembers are rigidly connected and the main suspension components are aluminum to provide a high level of chassis stiffness along with enough (about 3200 lb) curb weight. Two-thirds of the unibody is made of high-strength steel.
Instead of the usual four-cylinder thrash, the base 2.0-liter engine oozes satisfaction when at work, thanks in part to twin balance shafts and a meaty forged steel crankshaft. Despite sluggish throttle response and numb clutch pedal, the engine revs to 6000 rpm without complaint. Heel and foot operation of the gas and brake can be with a little stretching, and the wide-ball shifter glides through the H-pattern with angelic grace. With 20 or more pounds for every pony, the base engine is happiest when kept in the last third of the rev range. 2.0-liter in conjunction with an automatic transmission that employs downshifts to provide more than 160 hp of hustle. Manual mode, which holds the gear to the red line, is controlled by the shift lever.
The Car Changes, But The Name Remains The Same
The best powertrain of the three we’ve experienced so far is the 1.4-liter turbo mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Chugged as low as 1300 rpm, it pulls willingly and enthusiastically with a crisper throttle response than the base engine. There is a pleasant growl through the midrange, followed by revved rumbling well above 5000 rpm. Revving this Dart to its 6200-rpm redline is the best way to bring the strong chassis, firm suspension, and tuned powertrain into harmony.
Dodge interior designers went to extra efforts to keep it compact-class. Hot red accents are used on the contrast stitching, on the two-tone leather seat trim, and to illuminate the details of the large and small instrument panels. Common gray, black and beige tones are brought to life with sculpted surfaces, backlighting and electronic display panels. The top trim level has an 8.4-inch touchscreen and a seven-inch instrument cluster with reconfigurable secondary instruments and a trip-meter display.
The front bucket seats offer a great mix of features – easy entry, strong lateral and longitudinal support, and all-day saddle comfort. The contours of the rim and the grippy leather wrap of the steering wheel are good enough to impress the average Porsche fan. Overall, the Dart’s cabin feels more like a sports sedan than a budget-conscious family hauler. That said, we see some flaws. The dead pedal is too short and too slippery to provide a secure left foot support for difficult angles. And the back seat won’t carry three adults more than a few blocks. The middle position cushions and backrests are suitable for children, but too high for adults
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