2013 Dodge Dart: Superbike Road Trip, Part One
October 2, 2013
Photo guy Kurt Niebuhr reserved a campsite at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca a few months back, so I decided to tag along and check out the FIM Superbike race with him. Initially, I had the idea of renting a big ol' camper trailer and tow it up behind our long-term Silverado. Unfortunately, those plans fell through and we had to resort to tenting it.
A few days before we left, I checked to see what cars we should take. As it turns out, the long-term Focus ST and Dodge Dart needed miles and the 600-mile round trip would definitely help out with that. When I told Kurt our choices, he claimed the Focus before I could even finish saying Dodge Dart. No big deal, I thought. I haven't spent a lot of time in the Dart and this would make up for that.
With my tent and provisions packed in the Dart, I took the Highway 101 route. I figured if I had it in me, I'd detour to scenic and twisty Highway One, but the car simply didn't beg to be driven hard.
There have been numerous complaints about the transmission in the city, but as a few other editors have noted, the Dart is ok on the highway. Hills are still a bit of a nuisance, since it seems to be continually hunting for the right gear. Nudging the shifter to the left and into manual mode easily cures that problem.
I left L.A. with three-quarters of a tank, which yielded 29.6 mpg. Considering the EPA-estimated 31 mpg combined (27 City/37 Highway), I thought it was pretty decent.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 14,269 miles