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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 9, 2013
It requires a small amount of advanced planning (or forgetfulness) to take advantage of our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's auto-start functionality. Simply leaving the HVAC controls where they were prior to shutting the car off allows the climate to resume at that prior setting.
April 29, 2013
The ambient temp gauge only registered 79 degrees, and yet me n' The Kid never got comfortable.
April 11, 2013
In a previous update I wrote about how our 2013 Dodge Dart successfully took on my family's large collection of stuff for a four-day, 700-mile road trip. For this installment I've got a report on how well the Dart drove.
April 9, 2013
In an earlier post, Editor James Riswick noted how unnecessarily complicated the air-conditioner controls of our 2013 Dodge Dart are. But I'd like to point out how the temperature controls themselves are lacking in a crucial detail: degrees. Looking at this screen how can you tell how warm or cold you are making it with that slider? I mean, is this a thing now?
March 20, 2013
Here's a nice feature on our long-term Dodge Dart's audio system. You can type the radio station number that you want directly into this keypad. The same feature is also in our Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.
March 19, 2013
But I have a new gripe. The rough fabric pulls my hair. Oh horrors, I know. But it's really annoying. My head does not rest against the seat back while I'm driving but somehow it attracts a few strands of my hair and holds onto them. Ouch.
Here's a look at the fabric without my head in the way.
March 6, 2013
Sitting in the driver seat of our 2013 Dodge Dart is like spooning with an inflatable ninja turtle. The entire seating area is divided into many separate sections, and they are all puffy. Even after driving it for an entire weekend, I never got used to it. I still feel like the seat is constantly trying to push me out. There's also a channel running down the length of the seat back and the cushion, which would be great if I had a spiny back (and backside).
February 22, 2013
A compact car is not the ideal vehicle to take on a long-weekend road trip with four people and their stuff. And yet, with all our bigger sedans and SUVs already spoken for, the Dodge Dart was actually the most spacious car available for our weekend journey to Lake Arrowhead. No problem, I thought, we'll just have to make it work.
And make it work we did, as the trunk proved to be suitably ample without the sort of bulges or intrusions that can make a cargo area less useful than its cubic feet would indicate. It does have some nasty spikes in it, but I'll save that for the next blog. The cabin was sufficient for myself (6-foot-3) and my friend Chris (6-foot-4) up front, with our wives in back along with a few items that didn't fit in the trunk. Would there have been more room in a bigger vehicle? Of course, but as far as compact sedans go, the Dart was very impressive and I heard no complaints from my passengers.
February 6, 2013
It's no understatement to call our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye a big car for its class. Among economy sedans, it's the longest (183.9 inches) and widest (72.0 inches), even if its wheelbase (106.4 inches) is right in line with the Hyundai Elantra and Nissan Sentra.
After commuting to work in the Dart for the better part of a week, I think it lives up to that big footprint. Specifically, it rides like the small midsize car that is and feels substantial going down the road, something Dan noted in our first drive and Jay in our full test of a conventional manual-shift SXT Rallye.
Together, the suspension calibration and 225/45R17 Continental all-season tires strike a good balance between compliance and control. The Dart soaks up impacts neatly without resorting to the floatiness you get in some competitors. At the same time, it rarely crashes over ruts and it copes with the rain-grooved/washboard sections of the I-405 freeway without feeling busy. It reminds me a bit of our long-term Chevy Cruze in this regard, and I prefer it to our Subaru Impreza.
February 1, 2013
With their spongy feel and basic trim, the seats in our Dart don't look, or feel, like much at first. In fact, fellow editor James Riswick doesn't think much of them all.
Oddly enough, although I'm about as tall as James, I don't find the seat in the Dart uncomfortable at all. And this is after driving the Dart for consecutive days that had me in and out of the car on and off for hundreds of miles.
The cloth-covered seats are definitely not what you would call firmly contoured. Sure, there are noticeable side bolsters, but they're not the kind you lean on through corners. No, this is more of what I would call a "universal" seat, one that trades precise support for general comfort. It's a tricky line to walk, but these manually adjustable seats do a good job of providing support without needing to be in the "perfect" position. I might change my mind after a longer trip in the Dart, but so far I don't mind these seats at all.
Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor @ 2,161 miles
January 24, 2013
I just can't get comfortable in our new long-term Dodge Dart. The first problem is the driving position. Our car's six-way manual, height-adjustable driver seat is mounted too high, or rather, it does not go low enough. I cannot push the seat down far enough, which would not only grant my long legs sufficient room, but also extricate my noggin from its current location of 2 cm from the roof.
However, even if the seat could in fact go down more, the steering wheel's positioning would remain an issue. Actually, it would be worse since even when I'm perched atop Mount Dart, the wheel doesn't tilt low enough.
Then there's the seat itself.