The Dart is a compact car, but let that not mar your enthusiasm. It is engineered without compromise and never boring, while helping to reach your destination smartly. Though compact, this little gem has the same DNA that birthed Challenger and Charger.
The new 184-bhp, 2.4L Tigershark engine with a 6-speed Powertech automatic transmission hauls butt with no apologies. Dart averages 27 mpg, 35 on the highway.
Up front, the split-crosshair grille and fierce looking fenders highlight its “full-width mask treatment” and low slung stance. All those come together to make a premium appearance. Dodge engineers developed a sleek, laser-brazed hood that eliminated upper ditch molding. My favorite outside feature was the class-exclusive full-width racetrack tail lamps. Their beams announce a powerful statement with 152 LED lights, while the integrated dual exhaust (class exclusive) backs it up.
Fog lamps, exterior mirrors with turn signals, and power express open/close sunroof top off the outside description. Oh yes, 17-inch X 7.5-inch aluminum wheels tie you to the road.
Dart has a Utopian flavoring inside for a compact car. There is an abundance of interior volume and adequate utility space. You and your passengers and all their stuff will have plenty of room. The oversized glove box is deep enough to secure a laptop while door storage pockets are deep and easily accessible. There is a small trough near the gear shift for holding keys or a phone. Plus there are two cup holders. The saddle cubbies on the side are perfect for hand held devices.
The Limited comes with Nappa-Leather-trimmed seats accompanied by accent stitching and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The seats and steering wheel are heated, and there were wheel-mounted audio controls.
There is a 7-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) reconfigurable digital gauge cluster with tachometer. This compliments the 8.4-inch touch screen display that commands the Uconnect infotainment system with AM/FM/navigation. There is one year of free Sirius XM satellite radio subscription.
The base price for the Limited trim is $22,995. For an additional $995 you can get an optional Technology Group package featuring wonderful technologies like HID headlamps, intrusion alarm, Parksense Rear Park Assist System, blind spot and rear cross path detection, and rain sensitive windshield wipers.
Dart has five trims with the Limited being the most comfortable and technologically laden. The SE ($15,995) is an entry level vehicle. Even though the SE doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, it does have all the Dodge Dart’s easy handling characteristics, and a spinster’s habits when it comes to the gas pump. Keep in mind that Dodge is the fastest growing auto manufacturer in the U.S.
All trims will be fun to drive and come with an attitude. You will never feel “trapped” as the driver because of limited space. In fact, Dart has some of the size and personality of a mid-size sedan.
Standard Airbag Equipment
Advanced multistage front airbags
Supplemental front seat-mounted side airbags
Supplemental side curtain front and rear airbags
Supplemental rear seat pelvic side airbags
Passenger inflatable knee-bolster airbags
3-year/36,000 mile Basic Limited Warranty
5-year/100,000 mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/100,000 mile Roadside Assistance (certain restrictions apply)
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or firstname.lastname@example.org.