February 19, 2014
After 20 minutes of indecision, I made up my mind. Our 2013 Dodge Dart would get me to San Francisco or I would abandon it on the roadside trying. After slipping, sputtering and smelling of burnt something, I pulled the Dart off the highway several miles from Kettleman City, an interstate outpost town in California's San Joaquin valley.
The problem started with what felt like a fuel interruption during a sixth-gear pass on a semi. Not much later, the check-engine light illuminated, and the Dart starting skipping a beat and losing power in its lower gears. After letting the powertrain cool, checking fluids, flipping through the manual, cycling the ignition, and repeating incantations to the guardians of road trips, I drove the Dart gingerly around the back of the strip mall where I'd parked. It struggled with acceleration through the first three gears, but seemed to hook up in fourth.
I made a furtive pass at the interstate on-ramp, but chickened out and U-turned back to the gas-and-snack complex. The car just didn't feel highway worthy. But after several more minutes of internal debate, more looking and sniffing around under the hood (something was smelling burnt, but I couldn't pinpoint the source or smell), and generally pretending my mechanical theories had validity, I had to do something. And that something was not waiting for a tow truck and a rental car to get me the rest of the way to San Francisco.
February 4 , 2014
It's always a fun day when you start driving for the Bay.
I was getting a late start on my weekend plans in San Francisco, but figured with some luck, I'd be in the city by 7:00 p.m. I'd take the lazier US-101 route on the return trip, but I needed to make time on the arrival leg. The nav system chose the usual, technically shortest route across the East Bay into the city, but the Bay Bridge on a Friday night is no joke. Instead, I chose my preferred route up Interstate 5, west across Highway 152, then US-101 up through San Jose and Silicon Valley.
I made good time out of Los Angeles. I had an open sunroof, trail mix and jerky, and loaded playlists. Our 2013 Dodge Dart would be fine carriage for the 800-some round-trip miles. Once in the city, I'd park the car until Sunday afternoon.
Trouble began near Kettleman City, about halfway through the route in western California's agricultural badlands.
January 07, 2014
We added about 2,100 miles to our 2013 Dodge Dart before the year's end. We were looking to add about another 300 to push the odometer past 20,000 miles, but our time with the Dart came to a sad, abrupt end (more on that in a follow-up post).
December 23, 2013
Here's one for you folks suffering through the winter storm blues. Not only is it sunny and 79 degrees here in Southern California, our Dodge Dart reports the high ambient temperature in an extra-large font.
December 16, 2013
I do like our 2013 Dodge Dart. But I have to be honest. If I were buying a small sedan today, the Dart wouldn't top my list. The variety of negative points we've covered in our updates this year so far would keep me from making a purchase. But I also think the future could be bright for Dodge's small sedan.
December 12, 2013
The "Oil Change Due" indicator came on recently on our 2013 Dodge Dart as Dan mentioned. So I made a service appointment at my local Dodge dealer.
December 09, 2013
We're approaching 18,000 miles and the 2013 Dodge Dart is barking for oil. We last changed it at around 10,000 miles. That's a longer interval than most purists would tolerate, but not unusual among new cars that can go up to 15,000 without an oil service (our former Jaguar XF). I'm no purist, but even that interval seems a little long for a turbocharged engine.
December 06, 2013
It's been about nine months since I've driven our 2013 Dodge Dart. After having not been in it for so long, it was interesting to get reacquainted with Dodge's compact car and see if any of my impressions would be different.
December 03, 2013
We added about 1,400 miles to our 2013 Dodge Dart Limited during November. Some of that mileage came from normal commuting, but we also made a trip from our Los Angeles offices to Las Vegas for the SEMA show.
For the month, we averaged 29.4 mpg. We also saw our best range from a tank so far: 502 miles.
December 02, 2013
Swing by your local Dodge dealership late this year and it's likely you'll see some new 2014 Darts mixed in with some leftover 2013 models on the lot. Pricing will be lower on those 2013s, but the 2014 model receives some updates that should make them more tempting.
November 26, 2013
Granted, you'll only see the Dodge Dart like this right before it mows you down, but it's one of the car's more flattering angles. Actually, that's not totally true. The 2013 Dart looks pretty good overall with a more distinct front end than most in its class. But there's no making peace with the tail end. There's just a whole lotta rear-quarter fender out there.
November 25, 2013
The trunk release button is one of the Dart's mysteries. What designer decided to hang it out there by itself in the middle of the lower dash panel? The fuel door release, also floating by itself, this time on the driver-side door panel above the door pocket, is a similar mystery.
November 21, 2013
The Las Vegas Strip is 280 miles from the Edmunds.com offices. I probably could've squeezed an additional 60 miles of range out of our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye by hypermiling on my road trip to Vegas. And I might've made it back from SEMA without stopping to gas up, but in the end, I still drove the Dart 506 miles on just one tank of gas.
November 19, 2013
Our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart has a great navigation system. However, our staff has delivered mixed reviews on the optional Alpine audio system (I think it sounds pretty good, though) and the complicated controls for the air-conditioning.
The design of the controls is irrelevant when you can't see them at all, though.
November 13, 2013
While driving our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart in Nevada, I spotted another Dart for the first time.
"Whoa, that's really blue. Must be custom," I thought. "Also, this guy must really like periwinkle."
November 7, 2013
Good thing there is a digital speedo option in our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart, because I have trouble reading the regular dial.
November 4, 2013
In the month of October, we added approximately 1,300 miles to our 2013 Dodge Dart's odometer.
We averaged 27.5 MPG during that time, which is just one-tenth off from our lifetime average.
October 30, 2013
After putting quite a few miles on our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye, I decided to check the oil before handing the car over to another editor. This is actually a pretty pleasant experience, because the basic service points are well marked and the dipstick is easy for an average-size adult to reach.
October 29, 2013
For several reasons, our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye was my support vehicle during my recent house move. Actually, it was part of a fleet of vehicles that included a 17-foot U-Haul truck, MkVI Volkswagen GTI and a two-decades-old Toyota pickup.
Obviously, a small sedan would never be anyone's first choice for moving, but over the course of a very long weekend, the Dart provided reasonable utility.
October 28, 2013
Last week I took my only real long drive in our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart. It's about 110 miles from my house to Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, California.
I hit a bunch of traffic on the return trip, which on its own took about three hours. Until everything ground to a halt, though, the Dart was unexpectedly serene at highway speeds.
October 25, 2013
I've put about 1,000 miles on our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye in October. One thing I've really come to appreciate about it is the excellent visibility from the driver seat.
October 24, 2013
A while back, I found the source of my occasional migraines. Bright morning sunlight. Either that, or I'm part vampire, which might explain a whole host of other things, but I digress. One morning, I made a right turn onto a boulevard and got hit smack-dab in the retina by a brilliant flash of sunlight (as shown in the poorly Photoshopped simulation above).
It burns! It burns!
Alright, maybe I'm being a little dramatic.
October 23, 2013
One small detail in our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye that I really like is this notch in the center console container. It provides a pass-through for USB or auxiliary cords hooked into the ports in the console box.
October 11, 2013
Our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye hit 15,000 miles last Saturday. I was driving in fast-moving freeway traffic at the exact moment of the milestone and had to settle for this 15,025-mile photo of the instrument panel.
The Dart and I spent a quiet weekend running errands and listening to post-season baseball on the radio. However, our red sedan's first 15,000 miles have not been as uneventful as we'd like.
October 10, 2013
When I see a branded stereo system in any car, I expect the sound quality to be decent, at the very least. Our Alpine audio system in the long-term Dart set us back $495, but I really don't think it was worth it.
October 8, 2013
It felt like our 2013 Dodge Dart was running out of gas. There was no response to my throttle inputs and the car was losing speed. I was in the middle of a busy Los Angeles freeway and suddenly I was unable to keep up with traffic. I floored it. Nothing.
Traffic was light. I had been cruising in a pack at a steady 65 mph when I realized there was a problem. Now the Dart was down to 50 mph and it continued to slow. I floored it again. Nothing.
I checked the gas gauge. It read three quarters of a tank. All other gauges (there are only two) read normal, but there was a very red warning light lit on the instrument cluster. It looked like two backward parentheses and a lightning bolt. I had no idea what it meant.
October 7, 2013
Our 2013 Dodge Dart and I showed up at our campsite just above turn 6 at Mazda Raceway around 12:30 in the afternoon. It was pretty easy spotting the Tangerine Scream-colored Focus ST amongst the RVs trailers and tents. I had my tent habitable in no time and we wandered the track for a few hours. It was a little unsettling to see how light the crowds were for a Saturday, I must admit, but it did make getting around a lot easier.
October 4, 2013
We put 1,713 miles on our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart in September. With the help of a road trip from Los Angeles to Monterey, California, our lifetime average crept up to 27.6 mpg (up from 27.4 a month ago), and we set a new high for mpg.
October 2, 2013
Photo guy Kurt Niebuhr reserved a campsite at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca a few months back, so I decided to tag along and check out the FIM Superbike race with him. Initially, I had the idea of renting a big ol' camper trailer and tow it up behind our long-term Silverado. Unfortunately, those plans fell through and we had to resort to tenting it.
A few days before we left, I checked to see what cars we should take. As it turns out, the long-term Focus ST and Dodge Dart needed miles and the 600-mile round trip would definitely help out with that. When I told Kurt our choices, he claimed the Focus before I could even finish saying Dodge Dart. No big deal, I thought. I haven't spent a lot of time in the Dart and this would make up for that.
October 1, 2013
It's possible I'm the only person on Earth who cares about my elevation. But I love it when I find this little nugget in a car's navigation system. The Dart has it.
September 30, 2013
While six pairs of gold glitter ballerina flats may not exactly fill up the 2013 Dodge Dart's 13 cubic-feet of cargo capacity, they certainly help dress it up a bit.
September 25, 2013
This morning's fuel stop to fill the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye year-long tester cost me a significant $55.33. I pumped 13.8 gallons, or 376 miles worth of fuel.
September 24, 2013
Push forward to downshift, pull back to upshift. Did Dodge get it right?
September 19, 2013
Our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye and I have a history. A history of me breaking things on it, that is. First it was the outer door handle coming off in my hand, then the center armrest bin latch fell off.
But I'm trying to put those behind me because, I like driving this thing.
September 18, 2013
It's possible the Dart's strongest interior trait is its many small-items storage bins. Here's a tour starting with the center console (above).
September 17, 2013
Southern California is in the middle of a heat wave. It's been 95 to 100 degrees here every day for more than a week. It's uncomfortable both for humans and for small boosted engines burdened with the weight of a compact sedan. It's this three-week period every year when we rediscover one of the primary downsides of small turbocharged powerplants.
September 16, 2013
Despite the fact that they've got racing stripes down their center which are both visible and obvious to one's backside, the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's seats are pretty good.
September 12, 2013
Among the multiple display options (exterior temperature, trip odometer, range, etc.) on the 2013 Dodge Dart's configurable instrument cluster display is tire pressure. It's not a breakthrough, certainly, but it's also not common in the compact segment.
September 11, 2013
You'll be glad to know that our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart is following in the footsteps of generations of Grand Caravans before it by retaining Cheerio crumbs in its seats. Sure, the minivans probably hoarded them in seat rails, but the Dart keeps them right there in the secret storage bin beneath your passenger's butt.
September 10, 2013
I hadn't driven our 2013 Dodge Dart before this week. And other than a few comments about its transmission, I had no prior impressions. Here's my first observation. At 70 the engine is cranking at about 2,600 rpm in sixth gear, which is enough to be noticeable — disturbing, even — in the cockpit.
September 6, 2013
I can't fully explain why, but I find the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's speedometer tough to read quickly sometimes. And when it comes to staying close to the legal limit, an easy-to-read speedometer is nice to have.
I think the problem is that I get confused as to whether the white or red hash marks are indicating "0" or "5" of the current mph, if I'm just glancing over.
September 4, 2013
For the month of August we logged just 508 miles on our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye. Why so few miles? The Dart spent several days out of service with a broken door handle, which has since been repaired.
August 27, 2013
Getting the Dart's broken door handle fixed wasn't exactly a speedy process. On Tuesday, August 6, we brought the car to Buerge Dodge and showed them the problem. They said they'd have to order a new door handle and although we could have taken the car back with us, we opted to leave it with them, hoping it would arrive soon.
The following Friday they called and told us the part wouldn't arrive until Monday and we could retrieve the car and just bring it back then. We declined as everyone was all set for weekend wheels. When Monday came and we didn't hear anything we called them and were eventually told they had ordered the wrong part. Of course we weren't happy with that.
August 26, 2013
I haven't yet decided how I feel about driving our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart. But on the way home last night, I realized just how much I like our Dart SXT Rallye's interior lighting: a lot.
August 7, 2013
This kind of thing used to bug me. It doesn't anymore.
Very little soot, much lower chance of burns, always-perfect alignment in the bumper and the designers can have fun with the styling.
August 6, 2013
Here's something I hadn't noticed about the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye before. The audio system lists song composers, at least when I connect my iPhone via the USB port.
Now that's cool.
August 5, 2013
The 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's center armrest opener latch (or the cover for it, anyway) came off in my hand as I tried to access the center bin.
Apparently, I open things too aggressively for the new Dart. Or maybe it's that I have insanely strong hands.
August 2, 2013
We've had our 2013 Dodge Dart about seven months and in that time we've driven it 12,705 miles, which works out to 1,815 miles per month. And that tally includes this past July, a fairly light month in which slightly less than 1,000 new miles were added.
Still, we'll reach our 20,000-mile goal if we can manage 1,450 miles per month through the end of the year. I think we can handle that.
August 1, 2013
I hate the way fuel economy is marketed and sold, and this 2013 Dodge Dart billboard is Exhibit A. Let's run down what's wrong with it.
The "41 mpg" Dart is really only good for 32 mpg. That's the EPA Combined rating, the one that really applies in day-in-day-out usage. Most car owners have a hard enough time matching EPA Combined. The highway by itself number is fairly useless.
The "41 mpg" Dart is in fact the Dodge Dart Aero, but by not disclosing that little nugget this billboard implies all Darts are good for 41 mpg on the highway.
The "41 mpg" Dart Aero is a $3,300 option package available only on the base SE trim. It's not standard equipment.
The "41 mpg" Dart Aero is not the one pictured on the billboard. They're showing an SXT with the Rallye package that looks exactly like our long-term test car. A real 2013 Dart SE Aero won't have the tough looking blackout headlights, blackout accent paint or fog lights. I just asked Dodge public relations for a stock photograph of a 2013 Dart SE Aero and they didn't have one.
July 31, 2013
A clip from the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's right rear inner fender has popped out.
Since one of the door handles also previously came off in my hand, I'll be honest, I'm starting to have some questions about the build quality of the new Dodge Dart.
July 25, 2013
After reading Ed Hellwig's post about the Dart's low tire pressure, I decided to recheck them myself, to see if maybe we had a slow leak. Another reason I did this was because I have a cool tire pressure pump and wanted a chance to use it. I'm a bit of a fanatic about tire pressure because it is so important for safety and fuel economy. But getting the right setting is tricky, since temperature affects the pressure and the temperature and road conditions are often changing. As I drove home I watched the pressure climb as the tires warmed up. Once I got home, I sprung into action.
July 23, 2013
When I saw the TPMS light come on in our 2013 Dodge Dart I was a bit concerned. According to the owner's manual, or "user's guide" as Dodge calls it in the Dart, the warning light will only come on when there's a significant drop in pressure in one of the tires.
July 16, 2013
I spent some time in our 2013 Dodge Dart recently. One thing stuck out as a bit annoying to me. The shifter.
July 15, 2013
By now you know that we received a new windshield for our 2013 Dodge Dart. Everything seemed fine until there was a little early morning condensation on the glass. Guess they forgot to clean it? That's a green traffic signal you're seeing under the grime, by the way.
July 10, 2013
Our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart has sensitive brakes. You roll to a red light or a stop sign, roll onto the pedal gently, then lurch. Even light pressure brings a quick clamp. This proves useful for unexpected slowing at highway speeds, and indeed our Dart slows itself better than most in its class. The Dart requires 117 feet to stop from 60 mph; most in the class require 120 feet or more.
July 9, 2013
This thick-rimmed steering wheel doesn't seem out of place in Dodge's Charger, for example, but it feels incongruous in the 2013 Dart. While the rest of the interior feels sportishly compact, this chunky pipe wheel feels like it belongs at the front end of at least 300 horsepower. Even then you might not like it, depending on your preference.
July 3, 2013
Here is the June fuel economy update for our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart. In the past month we drove the Dart 1,200 miles. This falls 500 miles short of our monthly goal. After 7 months of service, however, we are exactly on track to reach our 20,000-mile long-term goal for the car.
July 1, 2013
Our 2013 Dodge Dart finally has a new windshield. And we didn't have to pay a cent because the break was deemed a stress crack that was covered by warranty.
We'll never know if the original glass had a manufacturing defect, was nicked ever so slightly during handling at the factory or was installed slightly askew. Nothing ever looked wrong or improper from where we sat. All we know is it spontaneously fractured on the inside.
June 27, 2013
My wife and I recently headed to the pet store in the 2013 Dodge Dart to buy a big bag of dog food.
As Kelly recently pointed out, the remote trunk release is nice, but it doesn't open the trunk all that much. No problem, it's got that "lightweight lid" she talked about.
June 25, 2013
If you're tall like me you know that side window visor coverage is no small matter. Visors that fall short leave a huge gap for those that scoot the seat all the way back, and a lot of cars and trucks fall into this category.
Our 2014 Mazda CX-5 is one of them, but the 2013 Dodge Dart has it covered.
June 24, 2013
Three weeks and six days. That's how long it has been since I first brought our 2013 Dodge Dart to Glenn E Thomas Dodge on May 28th to have them look at its cracked windshield.
If you'll remember the crack was on the inside, where I could feel it with my fingernail. The outer layer of glass was smooth and unbroken, with no signs of impact. To me this suggested a defect that might be covered by warranty.
The service writer seemed to agree, but he couldn't make the call. So he took pictures and sent a report in for a ruling by the district service manager. Within a couple days word came back that it was indeed covered under warranty, and they ordered a replacement around about the first of June. I was told it would arrive direct from the manufacturer in about a week.
I called a week later. It hadn't arrived. Ditto the week after that. This time I was told it would arrive the next next week, on or around the 18th. Really?
June 21, 2013
There's been a lot of talk lately in the news about rental tires. The crazy prices people are paying to rent tires when they can't afford to purchase a whole set at once seems practically criminal.
June 19, 2013
With hands full of whatever, there's nothing better than being able to conveniently open your car's trunk when you're on the approach.
June 14, 2013
Uh, now that can't be good. That's what I said to myself when I opened the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's front passenger door the other day and part of the handle flew off onto the ground.
Now I'm no genius, trust me, but I don't think that's supposed to happen.
I will admit it was a bit more of an "aggressive opening" on my part than usual, as I was in a hurry. But still, this kind of thing shouldn't happen in a brand new, fully modern car.
June 13, 2013
Today Chrysler issued a recall notice for nearly 15,000 2013 Dodge Dart sedans equipped with the 1.4-liter engine and dual-clutch transmission.
Yep, that's the spec for our long-term Dart.
June 12, 2013
You can tow any car behind a motorhome if you bring a trailer. But motorhome aficionados rightly consider trailers to be a pain in the butt because they represent extra towed weight and a storage problem. They'd much rather tow the car on its on wheels with a simple tow bar in so-called four-down or "dingy" fashion.
Easy is the watchword here. Motorhome touring is supposed to be fun. A dinghy vehicle can be quickly unhooked and driven around on side trips while the motorhome sits parked with its awnings unfurled and its sliders popped out in full relaxation mode.
Of course there are mechanical implications for the car involved.
What does this mean for the 2013 Dodge Dart? Can you tow one of these with a motorhome?
June 11, 2013
I met a friend of mine the other night at the movies. Afterwards, as we were walking back to our cars in the parking garage, my friend, who isn't what you would call a "real car person" (whatever the definition of that is anyway), asked me what car I had tonight.
"Dodge Dart," I said.
"Oh, cool!" she said. "Can I see it?"
June 7, 2013
As you can see from this warning sticker, Dodge doesn't recommend putting more than 825 pounds of total weight in the Dart. Seems reasonable until you start doing the math.
June 6, 2013
The crack was staring me in the face when I climbed behind the wheel of our 2013 Dodge Dart to drive home. After mouthing a wordless medium-potency swear I dabbed a fingerprint onto the end to track how much it would grow during my outbound commute, if any.
But I couldn't see the impact point from the driver's seat, so I climbed out and looked things over.
Oddly, I found no impact point, not even under the edge of the molding when I peeled it back.
June 5, 2013
The compact car segment is one that's now chock full of good picks. In addition to the segment fave Honda Civic you have well-regarded choices such as the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda 3.
As such, if you're a brand new player trying to get in the game it's not easy. The year-to-date sales numbers (through April) for compacts have the Dodge Dart at the back of the pack. Here's the low-down...
June 3, 2013
We've put just over 10,000 miles on our 2013 Dodge Dart, and at this point we're starting to get alarmed about its fuel economy.
Compared to an EPA combined rating of 31 mpg, our average stands at 27.7 mph. That's 3.3 mpg shy of the rating, which represents an 11-percent miss.
May 31, 2013
Judging by the adjustments I make to the steering wheel whenever I get in a long-term car, I prefer to have my wheel a bit lower than my colleagues. When I went to drop the wheel in our Dart, I discovered it lacked the range of adjustment that I prefer.
May 30, 2013
I'm loving our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart right now. I just spent the better part of a week living in the Dart and I'm hesitant to give up the keys.
May 29, 2013
That's a five-and-half-foot tall box filled with brand new brake lines from Right Stuff Detailing for a 1969 Chevy Camaro project my father and I have begun.
May 28, 2013
Seems several cars in the long-term fleet are coming up for service. This time it was our 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye, which is rapidly approaching the 10,000-mile mark.
May 27, 2013
Our long-term Dodge Dart has a USB port and aux jack hidden away in the center console armrest bin (there's also a power outlet in there). Like most of these in-the-bin situations, the Dart has a handy cutout that allows you to keep your smart phone or mp3 player within reach, but still close the door on the bin and not pinch your cord.