2013 Dodge Dart: The Transmission Second Opinion
January 28, 2013
Flummoxed. That's the best word to describe our Dodge Dart's dual-clutch automated manual transmission, because I'm not sure if it realizes what it's actually supposed to do. "I know I have gears and there's an engine bolted to me, but what is my goal here again?"
Jay Kavanagh already described quite well this transmission's issues. In short, it's slow to respond, gets caught in the wrong gear and exhibits some downright strange behavior. At one point when stuck in traffic Friday, the tach was racing at 4,000 rpm and the engine was growling in its unflattering dieselesque tone, and yet there was absolutely no semblance of forward motion as a result. It was like I had the clutch pedal in.
These aren't the same complaints levied against the Ford or VW dual-clutch transmissions. Those are mostly a matter of an automated manual transmission behaving differently than a traditional automatic. Things like creeping into a parking spot or movement on a hill. You may get used to it, you may end up deciding you don't like it, but you probably won't be left wondering, "what's wrong with this thing?"
Now, as Jay said, it's not quite as bad as single-clutch automanuals and I'm quite certain it puts the power down better in a simple gun-it acceleration run than a torque converter automatic would. However, there are problems here, and the news today that Dodge is planning a nine-speed automatic for the Dart sounds like its replacement could be on the way.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 1,916 miles