2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye: Rides Like a Big Car
February 6, 2013
It's no understatement to call our long-term 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye a big car for its class. Among economy sedans, it's the longest (183.9 inches) and widest (72.0 inches), even if its wheelbase (106.4 inches) is right in line with the Hyundai Elantra and Nissan Sentra.
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 is and feels substantial going down the road, something Dan noted in our first drive and Jay in our full test of a conventional manual-shift SXT Rallye.
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. Actually, the second-generation Neon had a pretty nice ride quality by the standards of the year 2000, but it had so many other problems (a three-speed automatic transmission, cheap interior materials and the list went on) that this virtue easily got lost.
The Dart has its own challenges, of course, but happily, ride quality is not one of them.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 2,328 miles