2013 Dodge Dart: Unnecessarily Complicated A/C Controls
January 25, 2013
When I drove the Dodge Dart on its national press launch last year, the vehicle in question featured the dual-zone automated climate control that features physical buttons with the read-out included within the large master screen. The system worked and although I suppose the separate display in the Ford Focus is superior, I was OK with it.
Our long-term Dart has manual controls paired to that same large screen, and I'm not OK with them.
Dodge simply removed three buttons (auto, passenger cold/hot) from the automatic system to create the manual one and called it a day. When you want to increase the A/C or heat you must repeatedly press either the cold or hot buttons, which is more annoying and less convenient than simply turning a knob. To know your current hot/cold setting, there is a tiny icon in the upper left portion of the large screen (indicated by arrow), which gets bigger when you press the hot/cold button.
To increase fan speed, turn the fan knob, which brings up an icon into the middle of the large screen (pictured). It then disappears, which means you only know what your fan speed is when you're changing it. If you want to change air flow direction, you have to press the climate button on the screen and then the Mode Man icon you desire.
Needless to say, this is an unnecessarily complicated solution to manual climate controls. However, you will note that I said our Dart has the manual controls paired to the large central screen. There is in fact a third option. Should you get a base Dart with the more conventional audio head unit (which looks like a Crown Victoria-inspired afterthought), the manual climate controls are of a more basic and more sensible three-knob design. They would almost certainly work better and Dodge should seriously consider making these the standard manual A/C control interface.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 1,916 miles