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 .
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)