2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye Long-Term Road Test


Read the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the long-term updates of the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye.

What We Got
A new 2013 Dodge Dart started at a competitive $15,995. After a score of options, our Dart SXT Rallye had an MSRP of $25,385. Here is how it added up.

First, we chose a trim level. The SXT offered 17-inch wheels, fancier cloth seats, a split-folding rear seatback and improved instrument panel display. The Rallye trim tacked on foglamps, a leather-wrapped wheel and unique trim pieces. Optional equipment included the Uconnect 8.4-inch display screen ($495), Alpine stereo ($495), satellite radio ($195), sunroof ($895), racetrack rear lights ($225) and an assortment of interior extras, dubbed the Popular Equipment Group ($295).

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

Finally, we upgraded the standard 160-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine. The optional 1.4-liter MultiAir engine was turbocharged. While it produced the same horsepower as the 2.0, torque was increased by 40 pound-feet, for a total of 184 lb-ft of torque. Paired to the 1.4 was a six-speed automated manual transmission, or DDCT (dual-clutch dry transmission) in Dodge-speak.

Dodge agreed to loan us the car for a year.

Our Impressions

  • "Last week I took my only real long drive in our long-term Dart.... The Dart was unexpectedly serene at highway speeds. Neither wind noise nor tire noise is especially noticeable at 70 mph on the highway. For its class, the Dart is acceptably quiet in my view. To my ears, engine roar is the biggest contributor to cabin noise, and it's really only an issue when you ask the turbo 1.4-liter to dig deep for a passing maneuver on an uphill grade. I like small, turbocharged engines, but the Dart might just be too big and heavy to use an engine this small." — Erin Riches

  • "Our 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.... 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 gearchange speeds. It is unfortunate that the gearbox tends to overshadow the things the Dart does well." — Jason Kavanagh

  • "After my first night in our long-term Dart... I had the same reaction as Jay and James. This transmission simply doesn't feel well calibrated to the engine. This small-displacement turbocharged engine needs revs to make decent power. But between the transmission's early upshifts and slow gearchanges, it's hard to stay in the power.... Now four days on, I feel like I've made peace with the drivetrain's peculiarities and, overall, the experience isn't any worse than a commute in our CVT-equipped Subaru Impreza. Honestly, once you're up to 70 mph, the Dart feels better than our Impreza, because its engine has more midrange torque, so once you coax the transmission into the right gear, executing a passing maneuver is pretty much turnkey." — Erin Riches

  • "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. Certainly the car's styling continues to be one of its top attributes. Some cars lack luster with familiarity. But looking sharp and purposeful without being overdone, I think the Dart's appearance will have some legs for years to come. One other thing that struck me was how well the touchscreen electronics interface works. Here, I think I had just forgotten a little. But having driven a lot of other cars in the intervening months with less-than-stellar touchscreens, the Dart's really stood out to me. It's quick to respond, easy to use and arguably the best interface you'll find in this class." — Brent Romans

  • "Pretty laggardly acceleration off the line. Not sure if it was more turbo lag or a hesitant dual-clutch transmission.... The slow upshifts come at 6,000 rpm. There's lag with each shift until the tach gets to 4,400.... Decent steering effort, although there isn't a ton of actual feel. What's cool is that the Dart responds well to throttle changes, although it's difficult to say fully to what extent because the ESC system spends a lot of time grabbing the brakes.... The Dart gets around the slalom cones reasonably well considering the soft suspension and large amount of body roll." — Mike Monticello

  • "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 it is and feels substantial going down the road. 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. Along with that, the Dart's cabin stays quiet over most pavement, which makes it easier to enjoy my commute. Honestly, there are now several cars in the economy sedan class that offer a serene ride, but it's nice to see Dodge paying attention to this detail because the Neon and Caliber were noisy and unpleasant on the highway." — Erin Riches

  • "I just can't get comfortable in our new long-term 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.... The wheel doesn't tilt low enough. Then there's the seat itself. See the area above the side bolsters? The outer areas bubble forward and push into my shoulder blades.... As such, I end up either hunched over while driving like my Aunt Dianne or setting the seatback to the full Fat Joe (lean back)." — James Riswick

  • "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 at 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

  • "A compact car is not the ideal vehicle to take on a long-weekend road trip with four people and their stuff. And yet... 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.... As far as compact sedans go, the Dart was very impressive and I heard no complaints from my passengers." — James Riswick

  • "That's a five-and-a-half-foot tall box filled with brand-new brake lines.... Did I think it was going to Dart in the trunk of our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart? Nope. But then I remembered the sedan has a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat. I dropped the smaller section easily and slid the box in place. Trunk closed without issue and the car could still hold four passengers. Very cool." — Scott Oldham

  • 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

  • "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 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.... This screen has large on-screen buttons and they exhibit appropriate sensitivity to human touch.... Processing speed is lightning-quick for a nav system in a budget car. Keying in addresses takes very little time and then the system is quick to calculate a route to your destination. I'm averaging about 30 seconds from address entry to the start of voice guidance, which feels quicker than every other nav-equipped car in our fleet.... Once you're en route to your destination, the Dart's nav zooms in when it's logical to do so, showing you which lane you need to be in, where to turn, etc.... When you deviate from the selected route, the Dodge's system is quick to recalculate and doesn't keep insisting that you make a U-turn." — Erin Riches

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
Routine service on the Dart was exactly that. The onboard monitor requested fresh oil at about 10,000 and 15,000 miles and averaged $54 apiece. We also had very favorable dealer service experiences.

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

Service Campaigns:
There were maintenance issues beyond the routine, as well. The windshield was replaced under warranty when it was deemed that the crack it had developed was stress-induced. At 11,000 miles the passenger-side front door handle came off in our hand. It was also replaced under warranty.

Two problems arose during our test, possibly related. One was a throttle malfunction that nearly stranded us on the highway. A key-off, key-on restart of the car reset this one-time hiccup. The second mishap also occurred along the highway. What turned out to be a misfire was a bit traumatic, and nearly stranded us between Los Angeles and San Francisco. But the Dart held on, limping to our destination safely.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
EPA estimates for our Dart SXT Rallye were 31 mpg combined (27 city/37 highway). After 19,522 miles we averaged 28 mpg. In its best showing, the Dart put a total of 506 miles behind it on a single tank of fuel.

Resale and Depreciation:
The MSRP on our Dart was $25,385. By the conclusion of our test, Edmunds' TMV® Calculator valued the SXT Rallye at $16,345 based on a private-party sale. That equated to 36 percent depreciation from its original MSRP. For comparison, our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze depreciated 23 percent.

Summing Up

Pros: Roomy interior; plenty of trunk space; excellent navigation system; quiet at highway speeds; impressive range on one tank of gas.

Cons: Balky transmission too slow to choose gears; seat comfort varied by body type; depreciation was high.

Bottom Line: Simple controls, a spacious cabin and one of the best navigation systems in the segment make the Dart easy to like in day-to-day driving. A lazy transmission and a few minor maintenance issues were the only things that kept us from being more enthusiastic about the Dart overall.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $109.24 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: Door handle replaced, windshield replaced
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Best Fuel Economy: 36.6 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 16.8 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 27.7 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $16,345 (private-party sale)
Depreciation: $9,040 (36 percent of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 19,522 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.


  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    And NO BYLINE on the wrap-up. Says it all, really - no one person wanted to take the responsibility for this journalistic memory-hole exercise.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    The Dart was truly a disappointment--one of the few real duds in the long term fleet that I can ever recall. It's a real shame too--I had high hopes that Dodge had a great small car to offer.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    @fordson at least there was a wrap up article. So many wrap-ups were not done at all over the past year. Also, I hate how you can't see comments unless you comment.

  • nukeedmunds nukeedmunds Posts:

    Holy [non-permissible content removed], has Edmunds sunk to a new low with this so-called "summary." The Dart suffered two atrocious and debilitating mechanical failures, both of which prevented the car from accelerating properly andcould have resulted in serious injuries or death had another driver slammed into the disabled Dart... and yet you summarize these as "a few minor maintenance issues?!?!?!" [non-permissible content removed] you, seriously. Edmunds is a [non-permissible content removed] joke.

  • nukeedmunds nukeedmunds Posts:

    Nevermind all the other woes of this insufferable little shitbox, that you sort-of acknowledge and then cheerily dismiss. Door handles and fender trim don't fall off well built automobiles. Properly engineered-and-assembled cars don't crack their own windshields. Responsible automakers don't foist vehicles on their intellectually-challenged customer base with sharp metal clips in one of the most frequently-accessed areas of the car... but hey, all's good as long as Edmunds staff continues to [non-permissible content removed] the Fiasler reps, so all those free cars keep coming, eh? Seriously, you people need to be publicly chastised for this drivel.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    I'm posting a comment because you have to post a comment in order to see the other comments. These people running this site have got life dicked, because they're getting somebody to pay them for doing a lousy job.

  • Testing comment.

  • at least you were only almost stranded and it only happened twice. I'm sure with a baby in the backseat or a young family that wouldn't have been stressful at all.

  • ocramidajzj ocramidajzj Posts:

    Leaving you stranded and limping are considered minor? Iw ould consider this stressful and questioning reliability.

  • I like pie

  • Enlisted is on at 9:00 tonight (hey if I have to comment each time they aren't all going to be brilliant)

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    Fordson, this website is thoroughly cooked. It's done, they don't care anymore and they certainly don't care about your opinion, my opinion, or the opinion of anyone else who remembers or like Insideline. Erin, Dan, Magrath, etc once were allowed to author articles where you could see their individual personalities come through. That's gone now, and I feel bad for them because I don't think it was their decision. And you can access comments without commenting by placing "-commentspage" between the period and the html in the url line. It's stupid and we were promised a fix two years ago, but it never came. Just another big F.U. to the former readership.

  • kokomojoe kokomojoe Posts:

    Having owned a Dart in the early 70's I found this one just does not live up to the name. Style is okay but it's not a Dodge. This car is closer to Fiat than Chrysler.

  • Why would Chrysler Corp. create a world-car compact with sheet metal that so closely invokes the failed Neon? Must be the same type of executive suite stupidity that keeps getting their cars rated as "unreliable".

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    36% depreciation is pretty steep for a mass market car. I wonder if that's a consequence of it being $16k base car with $9k of options. My limited personal experience is that inexpensive cars with uncommon performance options (like a turbo engine) do not hold their value well. Unless it developed a cult following, buyers on the secondary market look at it and see only "econobox".

  • comment

  • nukeedmunds nukeedmunds Posts:

    Direct link to comments: http://www.edmunds.com/dodge/dart/2013/long-term-road-test/wrap-up-commentspage.html?

  • hybris hybris Posts:

    Wow this is low for you guys seriously. You wrap up a LT test without posting it to the main blog which in of its self is unusual since you guys love to keep wrapped up cars on the blog roll for at least a month or two until you get something new. -------------------- But to then give us no after action report on the misfire beyond "It was a bad spark plug." really stinks of either just poor management on the writing side or deals being made with Chrysler. --------------------------------------------------------- Again I question why I bother come to this blog besides mere habit and mild boredom as everything from worth while cars to look forward to reading about to (this is a big one) daily or every other day updates on the fleet as weeks are now piling on before we get much of anything even including RTFM moments. --- By the way I came here by way of nukeedmunds that alone should show just how the community is not happy with the state of things and we are not happy with the blog then why would we use any of Edmunds services and features if/when we start to look for new vehicles?

  • brianknight brianknight Posts:

    Wait a minute... what about the "Weak A/C" that was innefective one update, yet good enough to keep the car cooled when using remote start? I also don't think we've heard nearly the full story on the "misfire" and the aftermath. The cynic in me thinks we might have gotten more (some) details if Edmunds had paid for the car itself. Your credibility is heading a bit south here, Edmunds.

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    "A lazy transmission and a few minor maintenance issues were the only things that kept us from being more enthusiastic about the Dart overall." You guys are a joke, and you didn't even have the guts to post this so-called 'wrap-up' alongside the other dismal reports. Some poor consumer is going to pay retail for this car that you may have negligently ruined in its last drive. With the Dodge Dart ads running in the margins, it's easy to see that your truth-telling as journalists has its limits. Eventually, people will catch on that you're in the pockets of whoever's paying the bills, and your puff pieces on these vehicles carry no weight.

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    By the way, thanks to nukeedmunds for the link. Too bad this didn't appear at the end of the other blog posts for this car. But it wouldn't have mattered anyway, since this car wasn't so bad except for poor driving dynamics, uncomfortable seats, bad A/C, a broken door handle, sharp edges in the trunk, an inhaled spark plug with untold consequences, and steep depreciation. But hey, it was a free loaner from Dodge (who also pays the bills in the margin ads), so who really cares? There is a word for someone who sells themselves to anyone willing to pay.

  • ocramidajzj ocramidajzj Posts:

    Why can't we see the comments?

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    You guys should have let nukedetroit write this, I'm betting that post may single-handedly revive Insideline levels of comments and views.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:


  • nukeedmunds nukeedmunds Posts:

    duck, I posted my comments down thread. Edmunds obviously has a problem with the truth, and those who post it, so I've had to 'modify' my login information. And I dare anyone to refute my comments.

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    Where has the comments section gone for the Dart wrap-up? Can't take the reader heat?

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    Not that I'll get an answer, but I'll ask - how was the Dart disposed of? Since it was a loaner, I suppose it went back to the local Dodge dealer's lot, only to be sold at an inflated price to an unsuspecting customer. I wonder if the CarFax will show anything except a replaced windshield since the fix was in on this vehicle. Here's another question - you see fit to purchase so many of the other long-term vehicles, yet you took this inexpensive mainstream compact as a loaner - why? I should have realized right away that the car's true ownership would sway the outcome. Frankly, I don't believe you about the spark plug. You've never described how that problem was actually fixed; I'll still bet it destroyed the engine. But you're willing to let people think a simple $5 spark plug replacement is all that was needed. That's like saying the Space Shuttle Challenger just had a bad O-ring, without telling the rest of the story. The delay of many weeks only added to our suspicions; without full disclosure, we draw our own conclusions. Unfortunately, I will not be directing readers to your site for reliable information any more, since you're obviously bought. Slow Dart sales have resulted in the furlough of its assemblers for a week - too bad for them, but not surprising since the market has caught on to what a terrible car it is. Edmunds, you had an opportunity to sync your findings with the voice of the market, but instead you've chosen the darker path. The Dart is the wrong product to fall on your sword for.

  • daddiod daddiod Posts:

    This has got to be the strangest departure from the LT fleet since I have been reading Edmunds LT articles. What was the resolution on the issue causing the misfire problems on the way to SF? Did you ever make it back from SF? Or did Dodge come and take back the car since they had "provided the vehicle for the purpose of evaluation"? This is pretty weak journalistic work considering that the whole purpose of a long term test is to give consumers a sense of how a car will fair in real life and what kind of problems tend to surface. Strange, Strange, Strange....

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    @daddiod: As you can see, Edmunds is totally mum and non-apologetic about how this LT test concluded. It's safe to assume they were compromised, and Edmunds won't even come out and deny it. And it makes you wonder about the validity of their other work

  • This car is one example is why I hold onto my (less than spectacular) 2000 Oldsmobile Alero: similar interior and trunk space, similar mpg (I've repeatedly seen 38mpg U.S. hwy from Brockville, ON to Evansville, IN) with good but not great reliability. After 13 years, I'd expect some significant improvements !

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