Bringing Up the Rear - 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye Long-Term Road Test

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye Long-Term Road Test

2013 Dodge Dart: Bringing Up the Rear

June 5, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

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...

Toyota Corolla 103,317
Honda Civic 96,709
Ford Focus 84,455
Chevrolet Cruze 77,763
Nissan Sentra 43,736
Mazda 3 35,037
Dodge Dart 31,064

For the most part, I like our Dart. Specifically, I give props to the handsome styling, peppy turbocharged engine, roomy cabin and user-friendly infotainment system.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor


  • dby2012 dby2012 Posts:

    Just amazing that the worst car of the bunch sells the most.

  • "Just amazing that the worst car of the bunch sells the most." -- The majority of people are just interested in getting from A to B with the fewest trips to the dealership

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    But that fewest trips to the dealership thing is beyond out-dated. Long ago American consumers had it drilled into their heads that Toyotas never went wrong, ever, and while that may have been true at the time Toyota have rested on their laurels while everyone else caught up. My grandma had a Saturn for years that didn't give her a single problem, until one day a motor mount came loose and caused the usual problems. It was easily fixed, but she was convinced that it was just a complete lemon, typical American junk. So she bought a Toyota because "they never have any problems." That Toyota has to go in for repairs on pretty much a monthly basis, but she's still convinced that it is far more reliable than her Saturn, that gave her one problem in 5 years. Those sales numbers for the truly awful Corolla are the reason Americans can't have nice things. We have horrible, awful taste in cars, when we can be bothered to buy cars instead of crude hulking trucks.

  • legacygt legacygt Posts:

    The marketing people have their work cut out for them. I'm not saying the Dart is an outstanding player in the segment but it's competitive and belongs somewhere above last place. What's holding it back? Well, it's a new name. Also it's brought to you by the brand that has spent years pushing the Caliber in this same segment. These are two hurdles that need to be overcome. Unfortunately, the Dart doesn't have eye-catching styling or any truly distinctive features to really grab attention for itself. Absent these, the Dodge will have to be patient while the car establishes itself.

  • stovt001, I agree to a point that preconceived ideas fuel much of the reliability impression on modern cars. I too read lots of posts online where people have problem after problem with their imports and then go on to bash American cars. -- Granted it was about 5 years ago but we were in an Enterprise rent a car office and the manager was griping about having so many cars in at the dealers service departments from their fleet. Then she went on to say that out of the 7 cars that were out of service 6 were Chrysler/Dodge in for problems and 1 was a Toyota, which was in for an oil change. --- Everyone's experiences will vary and a make that one person has in the shop every month someone else will never go to the shop with. Even with the same model. --- My Toyota went 200,000 miles without ever going back to the dealer and only went to the shop for smog checks. Everything else were maintenance items replaced at home.

  • nukedetroit nukedetroit Posts:

    The Dart is a mediocre offering in a sea of competent, if not exciting, cars. The Corolla remains the top choice because most people in this segment want nothing more than basic, solid, reliable, quality transportation. None of those adjectives describe this... Fiat.

  • dby2012 dby2012 Posts:

    The biggest issue with the Dart sales in my opinion is the 200 and Avenger. Chrysler is discounting them so much they are often cheaper then the Dart. You can get a 200 with a 280hp V6 for the price of a Dart Rally. The heavy rebates are canabalizing Dart sales. My dealer has 200 Tourings for sale at $15,900 and the cheapest Dart they are advertising is $16,500.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    The principle complaint about the Dart is that the powertrain selection is fragmented and sub-optimal. You have a choice of 3 engines (1 turbo, 2 naturally aspirated) all with only small differences in power output; with the turbo you can get a manual trans or a (complaint-laden) DSG. With the NA engine you can get the manual or a slushbox. It's a bit confusing. When Dodge updates the car they should be putting a 9 speed automatic in all the cars (along with stick option), and then offer a choice of two engines (turbo or naturally aspirated), not three! Fix the lumpy seats/steering wheel/odd pedal travel while you're at it and the car should be good to go. There's not a lot that this car needs fixing to be able to compete against the Chevy Cruze, honestly, but the things that need to be fixed are very important.

  • Another issue with perceived quality is how the manufacture stands behind the car. Chrysler just refused to recall 2,700,000 vehicles as suggested by the NHTSA which isn't good for image. And I think it was even on this site where they had a Chrysler product of some sort with about 5,000 miles on it and really noisy rear brakes. The dealer said they could fix it but it wouldn't be a warranty repair. -- I've read online where manufactures like Honda will often do out of warranty repairs either for free or pay half to help out customers. That goes a long way in what people think of a company

  • nukedetroit nukedetroit Posts:

    Gotta love how my astute observations are consistently voted down by the Detroit apologists on this forum. Just sayin'.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @zimtheinvader: It's not everyday that automakers refuse to recall vehicles, but in this case if you read Chrysler's white papers on the matter they actually make a compelling point backed by data. There are several vehicles on the road that have suffered

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I am curious how the Forte and Elantra stack up in sales, as well as the Jetta and Impreza.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    Oh yeah, last thing- the Corolla might not be that reliable for some people, but I would bet that, "on average", it has greater reliability than most other cars on the road today, not just because it's still screwed together somewhat well, but because it's using tried and true components like the anemic engine and 4 speed autotragic. They've had so long to work out kinks that I'd be surprised if there's a massive failure that would knock the car out on the road.

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