February 19, 2014
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.
February 4 , 2014
It's always a fun day when you start driving for the Bay.
I was getting a late start on my weekend plans in San Francisco, but figured with some luck, I'd be in the city by 7:00 p.m. I'd take the lazier US-101 route on the return trip, but I needed to make time on the arrival leg. The nav system chose the usual, technically shortest route across the East Bay into the city, but the Bay Bridge on a Friday night is no joke. Instead, I chose my preferred route up Interstate 5, west across Highway 152, then US-101 up through San Jose and Silicon Valley.
I made good time out of Los Angeles. I had an open sunroof, trail mix and jerky, and loaded playlists. Our 2013 Dodge Dart would be fine carriage for the 800-some round-trip miles. Once in the city, I'd park the car until Sunday afternoon.
Trouble began near Kettleman City, about halfway through the route in western California's agricultural badlands.
December 23, 2013
Here's one for you folks suffering through the winter storm blues. Not only is it sunny and 79 degrees here in Southern California, our Dodge Dart reports the high ambient temperature in an extra-large font.
December 16, 2013
I do like our 2013 Dodge Dart. But I have to be honest. If I were buying a small sedan today, the Dart wouldn't top my list. The variety of negative points we've covered in our updates this year so far would keep me from making a purchase. But I also think the future could be bright for Dodge's small sedan.
December 06, 2013
It's been about nine months since I've driven our 2013 Dodge Dart. After having not been in it for so long, it was interesting to get reacquainted with Dodge's compact car and see if any of my impressions would be different.
December 02, 2013
Swing by your local Dodge dealership late this year and it's likely you'll see some new 2014 Darts mixed in with some leftover 2013 models on the lot. Pricing will be lower on those 2013s, but the 2014 model receives some updates that should make them more tempting.
November 26, 2013
Granted, you'll only see the Dodge Dart like this right before it mows you down, but it's one of the car's more flattering angles. Actually, that's not totally true. The 2013 Dart looks pretty good overall with a more distinct front end than most in its class. But there's no making peace with the tail end. There's just a whole lotta rear-quarter fender out there.
November 19, 2013
Our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart has a great navigation system. However, our staff has delivered mixed reviews on the optional Alpine audio system (I think it sounds pretty good, though) and the complicated controls for the air-conditioning.
The design of the controls is irrelevant when you can't see them at all, though.
November 13, 2013
While driving our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart in Nevada, I spotted another Dart for the first time.
"Whoa, that's really blue. Must be custom," I thought. "Also, this guy must really like periwinkle."
October 25, 2013
I've put about 1,000 miles on our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye in October. One thing I've really come to appreciate about it is the excellent visibility from the driver seat.
October 24, 2013
A while back, I found the source of my occasional migraines. Bright morning sunlight. Either that, or I'm part vampire, which might explain a whole host of other things, but I digress. One morning, I made a right turn onto a boulevard and got hit smack-dab in the retina by a brilliant flash of sunlight (as shown in the poorly Photoshopped simulation above).
It burns! It burns!
Alright, maybe I'm being a little dramatic.
October 11, 2013
Our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye hit 15,000 miles last Saturday. I was driving in fast-moving freeway traffic at the exact moment of the milestone and had to settle for this 15,025-mile photo of the instrument panel.
The Dart and I spent a quiet weekend running errands and listening to post-season baseball on the radio. However, our red sedan's first 15,000 miles have not been as uneventful as we'd like.
October 1, 2013
It's possible I'm the only person on Earth who cares about my elevation. But I love it when I find this little nugget in a car's navigation system. The Dart has it.
September 25, 2013
This morning's fuel stop to fill the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye year-long tester cost me a significant $55.33. I pumped 13.8 gallons, or 376 miles worth of fuel.
September 24, 2013
Push forward to downshift, pull back to upshift. Did Dodge get it right?
September 19, 2013
Our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye and I have a history. A history of me breaking things on it, that is. First it was the outer door handle coming off in my hand, then the center armrest bin latch fell off.
But I'm trying to put those behind me because, I like driving this thing.
September 18, 2013
It's possible the Dart's strongest interior trait is its many small-items storage bins. Here's a tour starting with the center console (above).
September 17, 2013
Southern California is in the middle of a heat wave. It's been 95 to 100 degrees here every day for more than a week. It's uncomfortable both for humans and for small boosted engines burdened with the weight of a compact sedan. It's this three-week period every year when we rediscover one of the primary downsides of small turbocharged powerplants.
September 12, 2013
Among the multiple display options (exterior temperature, trip odometer, range, etc.) on the 2013 Dodge Dart's configurable instrument cluster display is tire pressure. It's not a breakthrough, certainly, but it's also not common in the compact segment.
September 11, 2013
You'll be glad to know that our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart is following in the footsteps of generations of Grand Caravans before it by retaining Cheerio crumbs in its seats. Sure, the minivans probably hoarded them in seat rails, but the Dart keeps them right there in the secret storage bin beneath your passenger's butt.
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.
September 6, 2013
I can't fully explain why, but I find the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's speedometer tough to read quickly sometimes. And when it comes to staying close to the legal limit, an easy-to-read speedometer is nice to have.
I think the problem is that I get confused as to whether the white or red hash marks are indicating "0" or "5" of the current mph, if I'm just glancing over.
August 27, 2013
Getting the Dart's broken door handle fixed wasn't exactly a speedy process. On Tuesday, August 6, we brought the car to Buerge Dodge and showed them the problem. They said they'd have to order a new door handle and although we could have taken the car back with us, we opted to leave it with them, hoping it would arrive soon.
The following Friday they called and told us the part wouldn't arrive until Monday and we could retrieve the car and just bring it back then. We declined as everyone was all set for weekend wheels. When Monday came and we didn't hear anything we called them and were eventually told they had ordered the wrong part. Of course we weren't happy with that.
August 7, 2013
This kind of thing used to bug me. It doesn't anymore.
Very little soot, much lower chance of burns, always-perfect alignment in the bumper and the designers can have fun with the styling.
August 5, 2013
The 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's center armrest opener latch (or the cover for it, anyway) came off in my hand as I tried to access the center bin.
Apparently, I open things too aggressively for the new Dart. Or maybe it's that I have insanely strong hands.
July 31, 2013
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.
July 23, 2013
When I saw the TPMS light come on in our 2013 Dodge Dart I was a bit concerned. According to the owner's manual, or "user's guide" as Dodge calls it in the Dart, the warning light will only come on when there's a significant drop in pressure in one of the tires.
July 16, 2013
I spent some time in our 2013 Dodge Dart recently. One thing stuck out as a bit annoying to me. The shifter.
June 27, 2013
My wife and I recently headed to the pet store in the 2013 Dodge Dart to buy a big bag of dog food.
As Kelly recently pointed out, the remote trunk release is nice, but it doesn't open the trunk all that much. No problem, it's got that "lightweight lid" she talked about.
June 21, 2013
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.
June 19, 2013
With hands full of whatever, there's nothing better than being able to conveniently open your car's trunk when you're on the approach.
June 14, 2013
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.
June 13, 2013
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.
June 12, 2013
You can tow any car behind a motorhome if you bring a trailer. But motorhome aficionados rightly consider trailers to be a pain in the butt because they represent extra towed weight and a storage problem. They'd much rather tow the car on its on wheels with a simple tow bar in so-called four-down or "dingy" fashion.
Easy is the watchword here. Motorhome touring is supposed to be fun. A dinghy vehicle can be quickly unhooked and driven around on side trips while the motorhome sits parked with its awnings unfurled and its sliders popped out in full relaxation mode.
Of course there are mechanical implications for the car involved.
What does this mean for the 2013 Dodge Dart? Can you tow one of these with a motorhome?
June 11, 2013
I met a friend of mine the other night at the movies. Afterwards, as we were walking back to our cars in the parking garage, my friend, who isn't what you would call a "real car person" (whatever the definition of that is anyway), asked me what car I had tonight.
"Dodge Dart," I said.
"Oh, cool!" she said. "Can I see it?"
June 7, 2013
As you can see from this warning sticker, Dodge doesn't recommend putting more than 825 pounds of total weight in the Dart. Seems reasonable until you start doing the math.
June 5, 2013
The compact car segment is one that's now chock full of good picks. In addition to the segment fave Honda Civic you have well-regarded choices such as the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda 3.
As such, if you're a brand new player trying to get in the game it's not easy. The year-to-date sales numbers (through April) for compacts have the Dodge Dart at the back of the pack. Here's the low-down...
May 24, 2013
Ever since I first laid eyes on it, I've liked the Dodge Dart's basic shape. It's smooth and flowing, and unlike cars like the Hyundai Elantra and some other cars I could name, the sides aren't mucked up by an abundance of creases.
But it's the Rallye trim level that really does it for me. The keys are black headlight housings instead of chrome, the relatively small amount of black paint that bridges the gap between those headlights and the grille, and the black-colored bumper segment between the grille and the lower air intake. The body-colored grille crosshairs on a black background helps, too.
May 16, 2013
When I hop in a car and adjust everything, I tend to prefer the steering wheel down a bit, where it feels more natural for someone like me with a shorter build. Although I appreciate that the Dart has both tilt and telescopic adjustments for the wheel, it just doesn't tilt down enough.
May 10, 2013
In a purpose-built hangar adjacent to John Wayne Airport, in Orange County California lies Lyon Air Museum. Named for General William Lyon, USAF (Ret.), "The Lyon Air Museum exhibit is comprised of authentic aircraft, rare vehicles and related memorabilia, with emphasis on the defining event of the 20th century — World War II."
Click through to see a smattering of the collection, whose centerpiece is a famous B-17 Flying Fortress. Besides all the aircraft, all the cars, transports, and motorcycles are in running condition. Worth the trip and the modest price of admission.
April 23, 2013
It was a bright, clear morning near the beach, and as I slid open our 2013 Dodge Dart's sunroof, I was reminded of a conversation I had years ago with a friend.
April 18, 2013
If you were paying attention, you'll remember that a couple of months ago, Dodge launched its unique Dodge Dart Registry. Created to promote the Dart, the site allows participants to raise money toward the purchase of a new Dart.
This approach was certainly an innovative one on the part of Dodge, and now that innovativeness has been recognized. The Shorty Industry Awards honors the best brands, agencies and professionals in social media. The Dodge Dart Registry has won Dodge an award for best social media campaign in the automobile industry.
Some additional information, from the Shorty Awards website:
April 8, 2013
We typically aim for 20,000 miles on our one-year tests of long-term cars. We started our test of the 2013 Dodge Dart back in January, and we just passed 5,000 miles, so we seem to be on track.
April 4, 2013
If you've been following news of the Dodge Dart (you have, haven't you?) then you might know that when Dodge debuted the car to automotive journalists, it said a sporty R/T model would be coming in the fall of 2012. The R/T, however, proved to be MIA.
At the beginning of this year though, Dodge announced a GT trim would be coming, and it listed pretty much the same equipment as the promised R/T: a 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine, a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, a sport-tuned suspension and special interior and exterior trim.
Now, it's said the GT will be out in the "second quarter of 2013," which would be soon. And if I were thinking about buying a Dart, I'd wait until I could test-drive the GT.
March 28, 2013
I do happen to like the exterior styling of Dodge's new Dart. OK, it doesn't exactly have the presence of a Challenger SRT8, but there are some distinctive elements that help it stand out in a parking lot, such as the crosshair grille and the optional LED surround taillights. And overall it looks respectably sporty, as a Dodge should.
March 18, 2013
Let me start by saying that I love how easy it is to use the 2013 Dodge Dart's touch screen. Unlike some another car in our fleet, the Dart's icons are large, easy to read, and make good use of the available real estate on the screen.
My problem, however, is with the media player's insistence on alphabetizing the songs within an album when I hook up my iPod/iPhone. I understand why this happens when I want to play all songs from a particular artist, but that's not what I'm doing. I want to play an album, in the order the artist and producer decided. Imagine an opera, for instance, being played out of order. It doesn't make sense.
March 15, 2013
Many cars have a pleasant tone or chirp when you press the remote to lock the doors. The 2013 Dodge Dart uses the car's horn and I'm fairly certain my neighbors know each and every time I lock the car in my driveway. Drilling down into the Settings menu, I found that this "feature" can be silenced. Relief!
Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 4,004 miles
February 27, 2013
Dodge's new compact car goes by the name of Dart. And that's just plain weird given its roots (its platform is derived from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta) versus those of its namesake ancestor. Hell, that's like Pontiac calling a Daewoo-based subcompact a LeMans. Or Chevrolet calling a Toyota-based compact a Nova. Oh, wait, they did.
As most any middle-aged-and-up American can tell you, the old Dodge Dart was a very popular compact that competed against the real Chevy Nova and the Ford Maverick during the '60s and '70s. But very popular doesn't necessarily mean very good.
February 20, 2013
Some editors have already pointed out the annoyances of the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye's dual-clutch transmission. Basically, it's slow to react and easily confused. Since those are two deficiencies I've also been accused of on several occasions, I probably shouldn't be throwing stones.
Instead I'll focus on some of the redeeming qualities. Such as the perfect throttle blips on manual downshifts.
February 19, 2013
I need to get something off my chest. I kinda dig the rumbly, slightly agricultural note that emanates from the twin-outlet exhaust system on our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye long-term car.
I'm not saying it's a beautiful sound. But the deep burbling as you trundle around at low revs sounds mean. Especially with the windows down.
February 18, 2013
This is the gas cap for our 2013 Dodge Dart. You might notice that it makes no recommendation as to which kind of gas the engine prefers "for best performance" or any such nonsense.
It's a bit strange given that our Dart has the optional 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. Or at least it's strange to anyone who grew up driving a turbocharged car that required premium swill just to keep it from detonating itself to death.
February 15, 2013
Our 2-post Rotary Lift has always afforded us unique views of our long-termers. This time around, our 2013 Dodge Dart gets the treatment. We're especially impressed with how aerodynamically clean the underside is, and the access panels for oil changes are a nice touch.
More pictures after the jump.
February 14, 2013
I wanted to troubleshoot phone-pairing in the 2013 Dodge Dart. Muscle memory impelled me to click open the glovebox, where I expected to find an owner's manual and/or a manual for the Uconnect system. I felt around for the familiar, fat paper guide, but instead I found a thin vinyl pouch that contained an owner's manual on DVD. (There was also a trim glossy "user guide" in the pouch, but in my determination to find the car's unabridged sacred scripture, I overlooked it. Shame on me.)
The DVD initially seemed unhelpful for in-car assistance, unless you could play it on the screen. A hunt for the CD player ensued. It lives in the center console: a CD player location I hadn't encountered before. I popped in the DVD.
February 5, 2013
There are plenty of ideas that look good on paper, but then fail to deliver much in the flesh. The Dart's underseat storage bin might be one of those ideas.
I say "might" because I have yet to find a use for the hidden compartment under the front passenger seat compartment. That doesn't mean it's useless, but I'm struggling to figure out what it's good for.
January 30, 2013
Enough about the transmission already, let's talk about the Dart's trunk shall we? What could be more exciting than the trunk of a compact sedan?
In this case, there's plenty to talk about. For one, the Dart's rear seats fold down, so when you have to carry something awkward home it's not a problem at all. These boxes for new blinds were just under five-feet long and they fit easily. They might have even fit horizontally in the trunk, but I had a storage rack box already taking up space there.
The seats themselves are easy to fold. There's no latch, just a cloth loop on each side that you pull to get them down. The headrests do rub the front seats, though, so it might require a trip up front to make enough room.
Getting things in and out of the trunk is fairly easy given the wide opening and modest liftover. If there's one thing to pan it's the hinges. They arc down into the cargo space, but I did notice that they hug the sides of the space close enough that you're not likely to put anything in their path anyway. Overall, it's a nice setup for a small sedan, one that will rarely leave you needing additional room unless you're taking home something really big, in which case you might as well just borrow a bigger vehicle anyway.
Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor @ 2,181 miles
January 21, 2013
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