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

2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye Long-Term Road Test

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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.

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