2014 Dodge Dart GT Sedan (2.4L 4-cyl. w/opt. 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 4/15/2014
Wider availability of both the larger 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a traditional 6-speed automatic transmission (vs. the turbo-4 and twin-clutch gearbox) have improved this sedan. While the GT model's sport suspension aids handling, ride quality suffers and overall the Dart continues to lack the refinement of its top rivals.
PerformanceFew compacts can match the 184 horsepower put out by the Dart's 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Strangely, even with that extra sauce, it remains no quicker than the top competitors. But, as a whole, the more enthusiast-focused Dart GT does put up respectable performance numbers for the class.
The Dart's engine makes considerably more power than most compacts, yet its 8.4-second 0-60 mph time is about the same as the Mazda 3 and Ford Focus. The 6-speed automatic is generally smooth, though full-throttle uphifts are abrupt.
Around town the brake pedal's action is linear and easy to modulate approaching a stoplight. The brakes feel plenty strong, with a firm pedal, and the 60-0 panic-stop distance of 116 feet is short for the segment.
Quick and well weighted, pretty natural-feeling for electric power steering. The Dart, especially so in this more serious GT form, is quite fun in corners, although the sharp steering took some getting used to around our slalom course.
The GT's stiffer suspension and quick steering make it a willing dance partner, happy to carve up corners with ease. Although the suspension tuning feels overly harsh for daily use, it did a fair job of handling mid-corner bumps.
The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and traditional 6-speed automatic transmission solve the turbo lag and twin-clutch transmission's lurchiness. But now this car suffers from an abrupt gas pedal and harsh suspension. Poor turning radius, too.
The Dart can tow up to 1,000 pounds when properly equipped.
ComfortPrevious Darts we've tested exhibited comfortable ride qualities. Not the GT model. Intended as the sporty version, most people will find the ride objectionably rough for daily driving. The seats fit some drivers well, others not so much.
The front seats have plush cushions but an odd buldge at the rear of the seat bottom. They also lack upper back and thigh support. The rear seats have comfortably thick padding, which you'll need to deal with the poor ride.
The question is whether the GT's increased performance capabilities are worth the ride quality tradeoff. For most people, we'd say no. Anytime the road gets bumpy, the Dart GT gets jiggly and the whole car seems to reverberate.
Wind noise is well-suppressed, and at steady-state highway speeds engine noise is nonexistent. But accelerate hard and it becomes rather abrasive. The noisy tires and suspension mean you not only feel every pothole, but hear them, too.
InteriorGood ergonomics, seats, space and functionality. Extra width relative to competitors is noticeable. But rear-seat headroom is a tad tight for tall people.
Big central multimedia screen has large icons and an easy-to-navigate interface. Simple climate controls are a plus, generously-sized kobs and buttons throughout. Digital speedometer's size is adjustable. Phone pairing was fast and easy.
Front doors are large and open wide, making getting in/out simple. Rear doors are small and open far less, plus this is a tight entryway, even for the segment. Have to duck your head getting in, feet get hung up exiting.
Spacious and wide for a compact car, with plenty of front headroom and excellent elbow space, both door-side and middle. Wide foot box for driver and passenger. Rear headroom is a bit lacking and under-front-seat toe room is tight.
Windshield pillars are rather long, hampering front views through corners. Front side windows are tall but rear side windows taper greatly. Rear window is large and standard rearview camera with 8.4-inch display has helpful parking lines.
Handy front bin has a grippy surface. Center armrest bin is deep but rearward. Cupholders have anti-tip knobs. Trunk has large opening, 13.1 cu-ft of space. Rear seats fold down but not even close to flat. Pass-through is tall but narrow.
ValueDart pricing begins under $18,000 for the SE with a 6-speed manual transmission. The Dart doesn't have the build quality or fuel economy numbers of many in the class, but it does offer considerable standard equipment and reasonably-priced options.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Red dash trim stood out on our orange test car, in a bad way. The interior looks decent enough, and the majority of controls you come in contact with impart a quality feel, but nearly every trim piece is made of cheap plastic.
At the Dart GT's $21,990 base price (with the 6-speed manual) it comes with Bluetooth, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, backup camera, dual-zone climate control, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and heated front seats.
Opting for the 6-speed automatic transmission adds $1,250. The $995 Tech group includes rear parking sonar, blind spot and rear cross-path detection and rain-sensing wipers. Garmin navigation added $495, for an as-tested price of $25,125.
The EPA rates the Dart GT with the 6-speed automatic at 26 mpg Combined (22 City/31 Highway). We averaged 27.2 mpg overall, including 28.5 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds evaluation loop. Not horrible numbers, but low for the segment.
The Dart's drivetrain warranty is strong to the tune of 5 years/100,000 miles, but the 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty that covers the rest of the car is just average.
Roadside assistance is provided for 5 years/100,000 miles. The Dart does not have a free scheduled maintenance plan.
Fun To DriveIf you can get past the rough ride and abrupt gas pedal (it challenges you to make smooth getaways) and take the Dart GT on a back road, you'll find that it has some fun aspects, like the eager handling and sporty exhaust note.
The jerky gas pedal, bumpy ride and noisy engine (at full throttle) conspire to make the Dart GT an underwhelming driving experience. On the bright side, this traditional automatic transmission is considerably better than the twin-clutch.
The burly exhaust note, quick steering and fun handling manners give the Dart GT some sass, as did our test car's bright orange paint. The question is whether this is the kind of personality you want in your economy-based sedan.
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