2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye Long-Term Road Test


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2013 Dodge Dart: Limping to the Bay

February 19, 2014

2013 Dodge Dart

After 20 minutes of indecision, I made up my mind. Our 2013 Dodge Dart would get me to San Francisco or I would abandon it on the roadside trying. After slipping, sputtering and smelling of burnt something, I pulled the Dart off the highway several miles from Kettleman City, an interstate outpost town in California's San Joaquin valley.

The problem started with what felt like a fuel interruption during a sixth-gear pass on a semi. Not much later, the check-engine light illuminated, and the Dart starting skipping a beat and losing power in its lower gears. After letting the powertrain cool, checking fluids, flipping through the manual, cycling the ignition, and repeating incantations to the guardians of road trips, I drove the Dart gingerly around the back of the strip mall where I'd parked. It struggled with acceleration through the first three gears, but seemed to hook up in fourth.

I made a furtive pass at the interstate on-ramp, but chickened out and U-turned back to the gas-and-snack complex. The car just didn't feel highway worthy. But after several more minutes of internal debate, more looking and sniffing around under the hood (something was smelling burnt, but I couldn't pinpoint the source or smell), and generally pretending my mechanical theories had validity, I had to do something. And that something was not waiting for a tow truck and a rental car to get me the rest of the way to San Francisco.

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2013 Dodge Dart: Oil Change Service

December 12, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

The "Oil Change Due" indicator came on recently on our 2013 Dodge Dart as Dan mentioned. So I made a service appointment at my local Dodge dealer.

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2013 Dodge Dart: Wants Oil

December 09, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

We're approaching 18,000 miles and the 2013 Dodge Dart is barking for oil. We last changed it at around 10,000 miles. That's a longer interval than most purists would tolerate, but not unusual among new cars that can go up to 15,000 without an oil service (our former Jaguar XF). I'm no purist, but even that interval seems a little long for a turbocharged engine.

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2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye: Easy To Check the Oil

October 30, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

After putting quite a few miles on our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye, I decided to check the oil before handing the car over to another editor. This is actually a pretty pleasant experience, because the basic service points are well marked and the dipstick is easy for an average-size adult to reach.

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2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye: Throttle Malfunction

October 8, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

It felt like our 2013 Dodge Dart was running out of gas. There was no response to my throttle inputs and the car was losing speed. I was in the middle of a busy Los Angeles freeway and suddenly I was unable to keep up with traffic. I floored it. Nothing.

Traffic was light. I had been cruising in a pack at a steady 65 mph when I realized there was a problem. Now the Dart was down to 50 mph and it continued to slow. I floored it again. Nothing.

I checked the gas gauge. It read three quarters of a tank. All other gauges (there are only two) read normal, but there was a very red warning light lit on the instrument cluster. It looked like two backward parentheses and a lightning bolt. I had no idea what it meant.

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2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye: Missing Fender Clip

July 31, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

A clip from the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's right rear inner fender has popped out.

Since one of the door handles also previously came off in my hand, I'll be honest, I'm starting to have some questions about the build quality of the new Dodge Dart.

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2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye: Tire Inflation

July 25, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

After reading Ed Hellwig's post about the Dart's low tire pressure, I decided to recheck them myself, to see if maybe we had a slow leak. Another reason I did this was because I have a cool tire pressure pump and wanted a chance to use it. I'm a bit of a fanatic about tire pressure because it is so important for safety and fuel economy. But getting the right setting is tricky, since temperature affects the pressure and the temperature and road conditions are often changing. As I drove home I watched the pressure climb as the tires warmed up. Once I got home, I sprung into action.

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2013 Dodge Dart: New Windshield Makes a Better Door

July 15, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

By now you know that we received a new windshield for our 2013 Dodge Dart. Everything seemed fine until there was a little early morning condensation on the glass. Guess they forgot to clean it? That's a green traffic signal you're seeing under the grime, by the way.

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2013 Dodge Dart: Finally, a New Windshield

July 1, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

Our 2013 Dodge Dart finally has a new windshield. And we didn't have to pay a cent because the break was deemed a stress crack that was covered by warranty.

We'll never know if the original glass had a manufacturing defect, was nicked ever so slightly during handling at the factory or was installed slightly askew. Nothing ever looked wrong or improper from where we sat. All we know is it spontaneously fractured on the inside.

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2013 Dodge Dart: Replacement Windshield AWOL

June 24, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

Three weeks and six days. That's how long it has been since I first brought our 2013 Dodge Dart to Glenn E Thomas Dodge on May 28th to have them look at its cracked windshield.

If you'll remember the crack was on the inside, where I could feel it with my fingernail. The outer layer of glass was smooth and unbroken, with no signs of impact. To me this suggested a defect that might be covered by warranty.

The service writer seemed to agree, but he couldn't make the call. So he took pictures and sent a report in for a ruling by the district service manager. Within a couple days word came back that it was indeed covered under warranty, and they ordered a replacement around about the first of June. I was told it would arrive direct from the manufacturer in about a week.

I called a week later. It hadn't arrived. Ditto the week after that. This time I was told it would arrive the next next week, on or around the 18th. Really?

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2013 Dodge Dart: How Much for Those Tires?

June 21, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

There's been a lot of talk lately in the news about rental tires. The crazy prices people are paying to rent tires when they can't afford to purchase a whole set at once seems practically criminal.

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2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye: Flimsy Door Handle

June 14, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

Uh, now that can't be good. That's what I said to myself when I opened the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's front passenger door the other day and part of the handle flew off onto the ground.

Now I'm no genius, trust me, but I don't think that's supposed to happen.

I will admit it was a bit more of an "aggressive opening" on my part than usual, as I was in a hurry. But still, this kind of thing shouldn't happen in a brand new, fully modern car.

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2013 Dodge Dart: Engine Stall Recall

June 13, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

Today Chrysler issued a recall notice for nearly 15,000 2013 Dodge Dart sedans equipped with the 1.4-liter engine and dual-clutch transmission.

Yep, that's the spec for our long-term Dart.

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2013 Dodge Dart: Mysterious Windshield Crack

June 6, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

The crack was staring me in the face when I climbed behind the wheel of our 2013 Dodge Dart to drive home. After mouthing a wordless medium-potency swear I dabbed a fingerprint onto the end to track how much it would grow during my outbound commute, if any.

But I couldn't see the impact point from the driver's seat, so I climbed out and looked things over.

Oddly, I found no impact point, not even under the edge of the molding when I peeled it back.

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2013 Dodge Dart Rallye: 10,000-Mile Service

May 28, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye

Seems several cars in the long-term fleet are coming up for service. This time it was our 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye, which is rapidly approaching the 10,000-mile mark.

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2013 Dodge Dart: 10,000 Miles and a Milkshake

May 23, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

We were headed to Corona Del Mar to drop off our daughter for a beach party. After that my wife and I planned to head over to Ruby's Shake Shack on Pacific Coast Highway for a chili dog, a side order of ocean view and a milkshake chaser.

At our first stop the odometer showed nothing but nines when Sarah hopped out with her towel and beach chair.

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2013 Dodge Dart: Lousy Backup Camera at Night

May 22, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

All hail the backup camera, the parking aid of the century! Our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye has one, and mostly that's a very good thing.

But the image at night suffers from bad resolution. Those who remember analog TV sets fed by rooftop antenna might call it "snowy." The guide lines are not peppered with any snow, so the issue is with the camera, not the display.

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2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye: Oil Change Due

May 13, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

We twisted the key on our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye and were greeted in the instrument panel by a number of messages, but one was accompanied by a tone, "Bing."

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2013 Dodge Dart SXT: Questionable Build Quality

March 13, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart SXT

I opened the rear door to load something in the back seat and heard an awful plastic-popping "clack-clack-clunk!" It sounded like something was about to break (see video after the break).

A simple hex-wrench saves the day but it does make one wonder what else might be loose and where. This is the kind of stuff that kills consumer confidence.

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2013 Dodge Dart SXT: Fuel Economy Update for January

February 4, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart SXT

After our first month of mixed driving in our brand new 2013 Dodge Dart SXT, one fill-up occurred after a mere 67 miles and the longest came after 368 miles. After 2,400 trouble-free miles, the preliminary fuel economy verdict is in. Where the EPA officially rates our particular Dodge Dart with the optional 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine at 27 mpg City, 37 mpg Highway, and 31 mpg Combined, our lead-footed staff achieved disappointing results.

With an average 26.2 mpg, we're 5 mpg shy of the EPA's combined estimate? That's not a good sign. Maybe our staff are still in the "Let's see what this thing's got" stage. Maybe the much-maligned DDCT automated-manual transmission is so frustrating that elicits aggressive throttle use (heh-heh).

Whatever the case, it's also interesting that the EPA's figures were the result of using premium fuel (that's 91 octane here in Santa Monica, CA), and the majority of our refueling was with 87 octane gasoline. The blank fuel door isn't explicit about the type of gasoline that should be used, but the owner's manual reads "87 octane acceptable" and "91 octane recommended." Stay tuned for more fuel updates in the coming months.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 2,435 miles

Worst Fill MPG: 20.7
Best Fill MPG: 30.3
Average Lifetime MPG: 26.2
EPA MPG Rating (City/Highway/Combined): 27/37/31
Best Range: 368 miles
Current Odometer: 2,435 miles

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