2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye Long-Term Road Test

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye: DDCT Transmission Is Substandard

January 21, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

Our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart is equipped with the optional automated manual transmission. Chrysler calls it DDCT (Dual Dry Clutch Transmission). It is the sole gearbox available with the 1.4-liter turbo engine other than the row-it-yourself manual. And it is...how do you say...not good.

It's down to its molasses-slow (albeit very smooth) shifts and an easily-confused calibration. Go ahead, DDCT, complete that gear change. Aaaany time you're ready. It's not quite Smart ForTwo bad, but it's bad. If you floor the gas, you're waiting a good couple of one-thousands until it finally realizes "oh, you wanted to go?" and goes on safari to hunt down a suitable cog. And it gets tripped up easily in conditions that involve slowing down and then briskly speeding back up.

Taking matters into your own hands by slotting the lever into manual mode doesn't solve it, either. Too slow to respond to commanded shifts, and then you still have those belabored gear-change speeds.

It is unfortunate that the gearbox tends to overshadow the things the Dart does well. I am fairly certain you'll be hearing many DDCT-related gripes in the ensuing months.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor


  • ed124c ed124c Posts:

    Sounds like the poster child for "slush box". Honestly, don't the Chrysler engineers TEST these things? Reaffirms my vow to never buy a car with an automatic. To Edmunds: A quick drive of the car BEFORE buying it would have led you to take the manual.

  • wizard8873 wizard8873 Posts:

    Sounds similar to the Cruze. Had a rental two weeks ago and again one now and terrible transmission. It's always hunting gears and forces me to throw it into the manual mode. still not fast shifts but much better than the automatic mode.

  • docsully1 docsully1 Posts:

    The Ford Focus has similar tech and similar issues. One good computer reprogram and it's as smooth as a baby's butt.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    I think a couple of commenters said that you should have gotten the manual- not that it would have mattered since none of us could yell at you DURING the car buying process =) Still, it seems that the 9 speed automatic can't come soon enough. The powertrain lineup for the Dart is pretty fragmented at the moment.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Isn't the whole point of a dual-clutch automated manual supposed to be fast shift speeds compared to a conventional automatic?

  • motorstreet motorstreet Posts:

    I see you're regretting the transmission choice already. The Dart is a very nice car and I'm sure you would have enjoyed it thoroughly if you had gotten the manual. Instead we will see a year of posts about the terrible transmission and miss all this car's good points.

  • noburgers_ noburgers_ Posts:

    I think the auto was a decent choice since that's how most will be purchased in the U.S. anyway. Plus, this, on paper, sounds like it would be a high-tech tranny, not just some rubber-band CVT. I look forward to see what everyone thinks of it during the year

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    All this effort to bring exciting and unconventional automated manual transmissions to the market in economy cars, and this is what they do with it. Great theory, terrible application. Why not just put a well-sorted conventional 6 speed auto in and be done with it?

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Dodge Dart in VA is:

$166 per month*
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