As the smallest sedan offered by Dodge, the Dart shows up as a very good looking and well-designed family car that works well as a daily commuter or errand runner. Selected as an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick in the Small Cars Class, the Dodge Dart is a great and small sedan at the same time, offering reliability and safety in a car with a price tag anyone can afford.
Having to compete with perennial powerhouses like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla the Dodge Dart can absolutely hold its own. Offering any owner a great ride with plenty of surprising comfort this small sedan can be decked out with plenty of technological advances to go along with the comfortable ride.
Offering a stiff suspension right out of the books of European auto makers, the Dart is swift, capable and soaks up the road transgressions with ease. The handling is highly responsive to even the lightest touch needing little or no movement to correct any driving errors. Offering the most powerful base engine in the class the Dart is unfortunately also the heaviest machine and if there is a shortcoming it is with the power of the motor compared to weight.
Powering the Dart down the blacktop is a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine on the SE base model offering 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is actually the Tigershark 2.0 offered for the late arriving GT models of the 2013 Dodge Dart, according to Miami Dodge, but for this model year has come out as simply the base model engine for this lineup. When matching this engine up with the six-speed manual transmission the car will reach 25 city/36 hwy mpg and when offered with a six-speed automatic comes in with 24 city/34 hwy mpg. This is one of the only times for this model year the manual outperforms the automatic for fuel mileage.
Next up with the Aero model the engine gets a real makeover and becomes very economy-oriented with a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that while smaller supplies the same 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque as the base model. With this excellent performance from a smaller engine partnering it up with the six-speed manual transmission produces 27 city/39 hwy mpg and when fitted with the unique offering of a dual dry-clutch transmission (DDCT) automatic a fuel efficiency of 28 city/41 hwy mpg is realized.
At the top of the structure for the engines in the Dart is the SXT, Limited, and GT models sporting a 2.4 liter MultiAir2-enhanced Tigershark inline four-cylinder engine offering 184 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque. Sticking this engine with the six-speed manual transmission will produce a fuel economy of 23 city/33 hwy mpg and when paired with the six-speed automatic brings in 21 city/30 hwy mpg. This engine is made to offer the Dart the power for reaching cruising speeds and passing with more aggression and ability than the smaller, less powerful engines.
The interior offers a well-designed cabin with enticing surfaces and thoughtfully placed controls. Offering plenty of legroom even in the back for full sized adults, the rear seat will fold down for added storage from the 60/40 split seat in all models except the base SE. The Aero, Limited and GT models all feature a floating island dashboard bezel, programmable instrument display, and an 8.4 –inch Uconnect screen to allow for more technology and connectivity to the passengers and driver alike. The glove box even offers extra storage, having space enough to fit an actual laptop inside.
The outside of the Dart is super smart. With sleek and smooth lines the car looks more like it should be in the luxury class instead of the small car class. Appearing to be glued to the pavement with its wide base, and long wheel base for this class, the Dart stands ready to dart around town. Well-designed mag-inspired wheels carry this cruiser on their back and the front end shows its teeth with a full and mean grill ready to eat anything in its path.
Even though the standard Dart lacks some power, the car does come very well equipped with standard equipment. Included on the SE model are power windows, air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a folding rear seat, electronic roll-mitigation, Hill Start Assist and 10 airbags. Moving up to the SXT and aluminum-alloy wheels, and upgraded audio system and a 60/40 split rear seat are all found to go along with the 2.4-liter engine. For the Aero the 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen is added and for the Limited and GT models Nappa leather upholstery is added with the Limited also receiving a Garmin navigation system and the GT is fitted with a full sport suspension package and 18-inch wheels.
Many of the optional features are grouped together in packages and the only group that is offered as an add on for the SE model is the Convenience Group with allows the SE to feel closer to the SXT. The SXT has a few extras added with the Rallye Appearance Group offering premium cloth and a tighter suspension, Uconnect Touchscreen Group gives the 8.4-inch touchscreen and the floating –island dash bezel, the sun and Sound Group offers an Alpine premium audio system and a power sunroof, and the Cold Weather Group offering up the Garmin Navigation system. The Aero can be fitted with the Garmin Navigation system as well to make sure the owner can find their way home. On the GT and Limited trims a Technology Group of options is offered featuring adaptive HID headlights, rear parking assistance, blind-spot monitoring, and a Rear Cross Path detection system.
For all the standard features of the SE, the price seems like it should reach over $20,000 to start, but instead begins at just under $17,000. Moving into the SXT model and the starting price is still below $20,000 seated nicely at $19,500 and the Limited begins just below $24,000. Even opting for the Technology Package on the Limited only brings the price up to $25,000 keeping this car in a very reasonable price range even while fully equipped.
The 2014 Dodge Dart weighs in as a great value, IIHS Top Safety Pick, and a great car to choose for a daily commuter, family car, or even one that is for riding around town performing the errands. When in the market for a great sedan at a really affordable price, shoppers should definitely take a second look at the Dodge Dart, it just might surprise them.