BIG MAN RIDES: A Brief Visit with 2014 Dodge Dart GT


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By CityFella:

Chrysler is on a roll ,every month the company is breaking records.  In March their sales were up 13% .  For the first time Chrysler sold more trucks than Chevy, becoming the second best selling vehicle in the US after the Ford F 150.  Chrysler saw huge increases in Jeep (up 47%)  Ram Trucks (up 29%) ,however Chrysler cars were down 23% and Dodge was up 1%. Fiat’s new 500L is the companies only bright(car) spot.

There was much anticipation for the  first child from the Chrysler/Fiat marriage, the Dodge Dart.  Out of the gate the Dart was heavier than the competition.  The car was introduced with engines that weren’t well matched with the automatic transmissions.  During the initial roll-out dealers were flooded with  manual transmissioned cars.

The car was initially offered with a Chrysler built 2.0 Tigershark engine with the 1.6 Fiat built turbo optional.   The 2.o Tigershark engine mated with the Chrysler built Automatic was a underpowered.   The Fiat built 1.6 Turbo but required premium fuel and while it was  fun and frisky with the 6 speed manual ,the
Fiat built dual clutch automatic siphoned much the fun and was unreliable.

Early reviews praised the suspension,brakes and handling.  Early sales were disappointing sending  Chrysler to its parts bin.   In its first year, owners tell Consumer Reports the car is very reliable, however its drive-train kept the Dart off its recommended list.

The GT wasn’t part of the original plan.  GT was added to the Dart line last last year.   Unlike the other Darts, the GT only comes with Chrysler’s  tried and true 2.4 liter, found in their mid size cars and small Jeeps.    Buyer can choose either the six speed stick or the Chrysler sourced six speed automatic.

18 months later,is the GT an Improvement?

Its been a year and half.  My first Dart was the SXT with the 2.0 and the automatic.  Can you say s-l-o-w?   The second was a Rallye with the 1.4 turbo and the six speed manual.  Fun but premium gas in a small car?

The Dart GT 2.4. with  the six speed manual wont snap your neck back, but it is clearly the engine of choice. It’s stronger and quieter than the turbo,which seemed to strain at times.  The six speed clutch has a bit of travel and while it one would never confuse it with a Mazda or Honda stick, its fun.

The steering is heavy and I liked the feel.   The ride in the GT as you would expect is firm, you feel every expansion joint.  The handling is very good.   The brakes are excellent.   The car is quiet and solid.

The car is still Big Man friendly up front.  With wide seats and decent leg and headroom.  At 6.4 no physical contortions were  necessary in this car.   Your tall, wide bodies friends wont want to sit in the rear seat long.  Their isn’t enough thigh support and the leg room is tight, its not bad but it cant hold a candle to the class leading Toyota Corolla , Nissan Sentra and Volkswagen Jetta.

The Scene stealer in the car is still the 8.4 U-connect infotainment systems You can spend thousands more for a car and will not get a systems as intuitive to use as in the Chrysler’s. Its out of  a page on of Steve Jobs Apple playbook, simple.

I like the Dart GT looks inside and out.  The 18 inch wheels are nice.   2.4 mated to the automatic elevates the car and is available on other level ,the problem is, the mileage 33 mpg on the highway and 26 overall.  The new normal for small cars is 40 mpg .

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Only the Dodge Dart, let buyers have it their way.  If you want a manual your  not limited to the base model with the small engine.  The 2.4 liter is now optional on every level except the Aero.    You can get  a sunroof, infotainment system with nearly any Dart.  Are you listening Mazda, Ford, Kia, Toyota!  Those Charger like rack track tail lights (standard on the GT) should be standard on all Darts.

The Dodge Dart  is a solid offering, its has very good safety reviews, it ride better and quieter most than its competition.  If you like the shift the gears yourself  the Dart maybe your car.   However, if your looking for high mileage automatic, you might have to look elsewhere. ( Mazda 3, or Kia Forte)

Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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