2016 Dodge Dart Review
Pros & Cons
- Spacious interior and backseat for a small sedan
- the excellent optional touchscreen interface is quick and easy to use
- responsive steering and handling makes the Dart relatively fun to drive.
- Sluggish acceleration with the base engine
- shifting from Aero model's automated transmission can be slow and unrefined
- front seats are oddly contoured and mounted too high
- thick rear pillars and a high trunklid inhibit rear visibility.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2016 Dodge Dart is an affordable sedan to check out if you are seeking something with personality. It's got a sporty look, and it's relatively fun to drive around turns. But read more to learn how the Dart stacks up against other small sedans.
The Dodge Dart debuted for the 2013 model year and heads into 2016 without much changing. As such, the car's virtues are pretty much the same. The good news is that there are still some appealing aspects to Dodge's small sedan. It's roomier on the inside than you'd expect, with a surprising amount of rear legroom for taller passengers. The available Uconnect touchscreen interface is attractive, functional and more user-friendly than most other setups in this class. Handling is impressive, too, particularly on the performance-oriented GT trim. It's nice to see that there's some spirit backing up the Dart's sporty styling.
The 2016 Dodge Dart's tidy styling helps it make a good first impression.
It's a bit unfortunate, then, that the same can't be said of the Dart's engine performance. On paper, the base engine makes an impressive amount of power, but in reality a base Dart is one of the slowest cars in its class. The smaller, turbocharged engine in the Aero is peppier but is marred by an automated-clutch transmission that is slow to shift and causes the car to lurch at low speeds. The 2.4-liter engine that tops the range is more in line with the performance of other cars in the class, but EPA-estimated fuel economy is mediocre. And while the sport suspension gives the GT a handling advantage over the rest of the lineup, it comes at the cost of a suspension setup we will generously describe as harsh.
Given the Dart's shortcomings, it makes sense to consider its competition. If a fun-to-drive nature is what you're after, the 2016 Mazda 3 stands out for its vice-free handling and snappy acceleration. For value, it's hard to top the 2016 Kia Forte, which is feature-rich and has a roomy interior. The fully redesigned 2016 Honda Civic will be worth checking out, and you might even consider the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta, which boasts strong turbocharged engines and a big backseat of its own. Overall, the 2016 Dodge Dart might have attractive styling and a few good features to praise, but it doesn't do enough otherwise to truly distinguish itself.
2016 Dodge Dart models
The 2016 Dodge Dart is a five-passenger compact sedan available in six trim levels: SE, Turbo, Aero, SXT, GT and Limited.
The base SE comes sparsely equipped with 16-inch steel wheels, power windows, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable front seats, cloth upholstery, a folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
You'll need to pick the SE's optional Convenience package to get underbody aerodynamic enhancements, active grille shutters, power mirrors and locks, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, steering-wheel audio controls, a USB port and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. The optional SE Rallye package includes 17-inch black aluminum wheels, a rear stabilizer bar and special exterior appointments.
The Turbo is essentially the same equipment as the SE with the Convenience package, but it adds the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine paired exclusively to a manual transmission.
The fuel-economy-themed Aero also comes with the 1.4-liter engine, 16-inch aluminum wheels, low-rolling-resistance tires, a bright grille, automatic headlights, LED taillights, a rearview camera, an upgraded instrument panel, a 7-inch instrument panel display, a six-speaker sound system, an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment interface with Uconnect, satellite radio and the Convenience package options.
The Dart's available 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system is one of the best in this class.
The SXT builds upon the SE, getting many of the Convenience package features as standard (the USB port, active grille shutters and underbody enhancements are not included). It also includes 16-inch aluminum wheels, automatic headlights, LED taillights, upgraded cloth upholstery and interior trim, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a sliding front armrest, a rear seat armrest with cupholder and a six-speaker sound system.
The SXT is eligible for several options packages. The Uconnect Touchscreen package adds an upgraded instrument panel, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, satellite radio and a rearview camera. The Sun/Sound package adds the same equipment as the Touchscreen package along with a sunroof and a nine-speaker Alpine sound system. The Cold Weather package adds remote start, power heated mirrors and heated front seats. The Rallye and California Appearance packages differ only in badging, and both add 17-inch black aluminum wheels, active grille shutters, underbody dynamic enhancements, special exterior and interior design elements, dual exhaust tips, foglights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel/shift knob. The Blacktop package adds 18-inch black aluminum wheels, foglights and side mirrors with unique black trim.
The Dart GT includes the SXT's equipment along with the Cold Weather package and the Aero's aerodynamic enhancements. It also gets 18-inch wheels, foglights, keyless ignition and entry, a sporty suspension calibration, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and LED interior lighting. Versions of the Blacktop package and the Sun/Sound package are both available for the GT. A GT Sport model is also available, which is essentially the same equipment as the GT but it became available at dealers later in the model year.
The Dart Limited has all the GT's equipment but reverts to 17-inch wheels and the standard suspension tune. It also comes with remote ignition, a sunroof, a navigation system (optional on all other trims but the SE), perforated leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped shift knob and chrome exterior trim.
The Limited, GT and GT Sport can be equipped with the Technology package (also referred to as the Premium package), which adds xenon headlights, automatic high-beam control, automatic wipers, rear parking sensors, a blind-spot monitoring system and a rear cross-traffic alert system.
Performance & mpg
Three engines are available for the 2016 Dodge Dart. The base SE model comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional. In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped Dart with this engine accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.9 seconds, a slow time for a compact sedan in this price range. An automatic-equipped car would be even slower. The EPA rates the manual version at 29 mpg combined (25 city/36 highway), while the automatic rates 27 mpg combined (24 city/34 highway).
The 2016 Dart offers a manual transmission with all three of its engines, which is almost unheard of in this segment.
Standard on the Aero and Turbo models is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automated-clutch transmission (it operates like an automatic) is optional on the Aero. In Edmunds testing, a Dart with the turbo engine and manual transmission hit 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, which is average for the segment. The automated manual transmission added 0.3 second to that time. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 32 combined (28/41) with the conventional manual, while the automated manual is rated 1 mpg less on the highway.
Standard on the SXT, GT and Limited is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 184 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the SXT and GT, while a six-speed automatic transmission is optional on these trims and standard on the Limited. During Edmunds testing, a Dart GT with the automatic did the 0-60 sprint in 8.4 seconds. EPA estimates for the SXT and Limited are underwhelming for the small car segment, however, at 27 mpg combined (23 city/35 highway) with the automatic; the manual is the same apart from having a 22 mpg city rating. Ratings for the Dart GT are 27 mpg combined (23/33) for the manual and 26 combined (22/31) for the automatic.
Every 2016 Dodge Dart comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. A rearview camera is available on all but the base SE trim. The optional Technology package on the GT and Limited includes rear parking sensors, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
In government crash testing, the Dart earned the highest possible rating of five stars for overall crash protection, with five stars for total frontal-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Dart a top score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset impact test, the Dart earned an "Acceptable" rating (second highest on a scale of four). Its seat and head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Dart Limited came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet, putting it among the best in the segment. A Dart GT performed the same feat in an impressively short 116 feet. A Dart Aero equipped with low-rolling-resistance tires, however, took 134 feet, which is 12 feet longer than average.
The 2016 Dodge Dart has responsive handling and well-weighted steering, and overall, it goes around turns with confidence. Almost all trim levels also offer a comfortable ride, making it a good candidate for road trips. The exception to all this is the Dart GT. It handles more crisply than other Darts, but the degradation in ride quality (the GT gets pretty shaky over rough pavement) isn't worth the minimal handling improvement in our opinion.
The 2016 Dart looks the part of a sporty small sedan, but its engines aren't always up to the task.
None of the Dart's three available engines are standouts. The Dart's base 2.0-liter engine doesn't really have enough guts for a car this size. Acceleration is passable with the manual transmission, but the optional six-speed automatic slows the car down significantly. The turbocharged 1.4-liter engine achieves better fuel economy and provides punchier performance, but it gets noisy during hard acceleration. In addition, the automated manual transmission that most buyers choose is slow to respond to gas pedal inputs and exhibits harsh upshifts at low speeds. The best pick is the 2.4-liter engine. You don't get optimal fuel economy with it, but it nevertheless feels considerably more lively in real-world driving situations, making highway merging and passing maneuvers significantly easier.
The 2016 Dodge Dart makes a nice first impression, with padded surfaces, dash stitching and available flares of colorful trim. Build quality isn't exactly up to that of the segment leaders, though. We highly recommend springing for the available 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment interface, which you can get with or without a navigation system. It features straightforward menus, large on-screen buttons and an accompanying knob that makes whipping through iPod menus a breeze. Processing times are quick, too, and if you need to enter a destination on the move, the voice control works surprisingly well. In Darts without this interface, the standard stereo head unit clumsily plugs into the same spot, reinforcing the notion that you missed out on something better.
The available digital instrument display gives the 2016 Dart a high-tech vibe from the driver seat.
There's good space for occupants up front, but the Dart's front seats are oddly shaped and feel as if they're mounted too high. As a result, longer-legged drivers may find they can't lower the seat-bottom cushion enough for optimum comfort. In addition, the steering wheel has a limited range of tilt adjustment, so you may find you can't position that low enough either.
Meanwhile, the backseat offers plenty of legroom for adults, though 6-footers may run short on headroom. Trunk capacity is 13.1 cubic feet, an average number in this class.