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.
October 10, 2013
When I see a branded stereo system in any car, I expect the sound quality to be decent, at the very least. Our Alpine audio system in the long-term Dart set us back $495, but I really don't think it was worth it.
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 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.
August 6, 2013
Here's something I hadn't noticed about the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye before. The audio system lists song composers, at least when I connect my iPhone via the USB port.
Now that's cool.
May 23, 2013
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.
May 22, 2013
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.
May 13, 2013
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."
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.
May 1, 2013
When I saw the Alpine badges in the Dart, I remembered having a conversation more than 10 years ago with Alpine's marketing vice-president. I asked why the company didn't brand the audio systems it provided (through its parent company, Alps Electronics) to automakers like Honda. I argued that the Civic, or at least Civic Si buyers, would pay extra to own that sound and that logo on their head units.
April 17, 2013
The other day I had to drive one of our editors down to Gardena, about 20 miles south of our Santa Monica headquarters. Problem was that this was during morning rush-hour. As I groaned at the sight of the black-and-red snake of death that loomed on Google Maps, I plugged in Edmunds' address into our 2013 Dodge Dart's navigation just to see how it works in this car. Having consulted Google Maps on my iPhone beforehand I kind of had an idea of what was the least congested way to go and was prepared to ignore the nav and have her reroute and adapt to my change of direction.
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 27, 2013
Rearview cameras are getting better and better, and our 2013 Dodge Dart's system is a good example of how far they've come on non-luxury vehicles.
March 22, 2013
When I drove our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye home last night I noticed that the GPS seems to know the speed limit wherever I'm driving. A small, practical version of me wearing all white and sporting a halo popped up on my left shoulder and said, "Hey! That's cool, especially at night when signs are hard to see."
What happened next may have changed my mind about this feature...
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
March 8, 2013
Listening to our Dodge Dart's satellite radio this morning became more than a little frustrating. The sound blipped out so many times during my one-hour drive, I got bored and lost count.
Sometimes, it was just a micro-second of silence, other times it lasted a few seconds.
Either way, it was something I hadn't experienced in the Dart, or any of our other satellite radio-equipped test cars, while driving this regular route.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 3,848 miles
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 13, 2013
More and more, cars are passing the no-manual-needed rule when it comes to initial phone pairing. That's the case with the 2013 Dodge Dart. Touch the phone icon on the screen, pick "settings" then "paired phones" and "add device." There's the parallel process on the phone for finding the Uconnect system and adding the pin, and that's easy to do as well.
What I didn't expect was that Bluetooth streaming audio would be ready to go without any more fuss. When I touched "player" on the screen, the audiobook I had been listening to on my iPhone kicked right in. What a pleasure. In my own car (a 2011 BMW 328i), the initial set-up of Bluetooth streaming audio was less than intuitive. It's also no fun that I have to reset it if I should need to connect my iPhone via USB for charging. Believe it or not, BMW, that does happen from time to time.
February 8, 2013
I already told you how much I like the navigation system in our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye. In sum, the interface is simple, it processes requests quickly and the graphics are sharp with good street labeling. Well, since then I've used the voice control interface and it's equally excellent, so much so that I plan to make to make regular use of it.
Here's what makes it so good: You press the voice control button on the steering wheel, say "find address" and then it directs you to enter the entire address, yes, house number, street, city and state, all at once. That's right, you say the whole address just as you would if you were talking to a real person.
February 7, 2013
I'm not sure where a factory navigation system falls in the order of priorities for real-life economy sedan buyers, but the system in our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye is excellent.
The interface is a large, high-resolution, 7-inch touchscreen, and it integrates various different functions, including navigation, audio, phone, climate and myriad settings. As James mentioned, the integration of the climate controls is a little clumsy (especially since it's just single-zone, manual A/C), but the nav and phone features work really well.
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.