The once iconic Dart name used in a variety of Dodge vehicles between 1960 and 1976 was revived in 2012, on a modern day Dart iteration. Although the original version was a full-size model, the 2012 car started life as a compact sedan. In fact, it was designed on a slightly larger Fiat Compact platform, called Compact U.S. Wide for the Dart. The bankruptcy issues some American companies were facing at that time and the ongoing search for better fuel-efficiency meant the Dart wasn’t the full-on sedan everyone thought it would be, but rather an economy oriented one. This didn’t go down with the U.S. market too well, as they managed to sell less than 100,000 units in two years.
Naturally, this would prompt any manufacturer to discontinue said model, and so did Dodge. Very recently, the FCA made a statement saying the Dart will be terminated but had their minds changed halfway through the entire ordeal. Specifically, they started looking for a partner to continue the manufacture of the Dart, only to later state it still might be discontinued. With the fate of the Dart that is still unsure, Dodge decided to simplify the current line-up in an effort to boost sales.
So, for 2016 they dropped two trims out of the five available, leaving only three in the mix. What this actually means, is that the Dart has been effectively given a trim level for each drivetrain. This one should see an increase in sales, at least marginal improvement, but we’re not sure if it will be a success. If anything, it’ll bring new accessories and customizable options which will attract more customers to the Dart. Dodge is really banking it will.
Exterior design of 2016 Dodge Dart
Right off the bat, we can tell one slightly larger issue the Dart has. See, it’s been in production for four years now, and not a single update has been done to the interior. While this may be okay if you’ve got a top-hit or a best-seller, it certainly isn’t when you’re trying to improve the sale figures on the said market. Yes, you can make it cheaper and give it better engines, but the fact of the matter is this: If a person doesn’t find the car attractive, they won’t buy it at any given price point or performance stats.
There are officially five trims available: SE, SXT, AERO, GT and LIMITED. The SXT is great for people who aren’t satisfied with the base SE and want a bit more. It has bi-function automatic halogen headlights as standard, LED corner taillights, 16-inch aluminum wheels and chrome headlamp bezels. If you go for the Aero trim, you get SiriusXM and Satellite Radio.
The GT model gets everything from the lower three options and tops them with new, shinier exhaust tips at the back, a Hyper Black grille at the front with a more aggressive fascia and automatic and tinted headlamps as well as fog lamps. Oh, let’s not forget the blacked out 18-inch wheels too. There are eight standard exterior colors which can be specified on each of the three trims. They range from subtle to Go Mango, the craziest of the bunch.
Dodge, we understand cost savings for yourself as well as for the customer, but the lack of sales indicate something is missing from the package. Okay, the exterior can remain the same, but please make an effort in the interior at least. It’s literally a carryover from the previous year, which in turn was almost identical to the one before that and so on… A fresh interior is an absolute must in such an important update.
The GT gets air conditioning, SiriusXM satellite radio, front-seat active headrests, sun visors as well as vanity mirrors, four speakers as the audio system, electric power steering, power windows and a solar control glass. Furthermore, there are Uconnect Bluetooth and a few other things we’re ashamed even to mention which has been classified as standard in the brochure, such as two cup holders or a standard instrument cluster with a tachometer. Really Dodge? As opposed to what? A non-standard cluster with an invisible tachometer?
The flagship Limited edition offers an 8.4-inch touchscreen and 17-inch satin silver aluminum wheels. If you go for a Dodge Dart, we suggest you at least go for the higher-end GT which brings Keyless entry, push-button start and power mirrors to the table. It also comes with a rather large 8.4-inch screen with Uconnect radio, a rear backup camera, and a much nicer dual-zone temperature control unit. The materials used aren’t bad, but overall it’s just not on par with its rivals.
Engine and Transmission
The three available engine options are a carryover from the previous year too. The standard engine on the Dart SXT is a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder Tigershark developing 160 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed manual in standard guise or a six-speed auto as an option. It supposedly returns 25/36 mpg city/highway respectively.
The Aero trim obviously gets a turbocharged engine in the form of a 1.4-liter four-banger. It’s good for 160 hp (the same as the 2.0), and 184 lb-ft of torque is paired to the six-speed manual, with no automatic option. It gets a slightly better fuel-economy numbers at 27/41 mpg for the city and the highway respectively.
The top of the line GT, as well as Limited trims, utilize the 2.4-liter four-cylinder Tigershark engine, this one pumps out 184 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. It’s the most potent option on the Dart but also the thirstiest, managing to return 23/33 mpg for the city and on the highway. Unlike the 1.4 however, it can be had with the automatic despite coming with the manual as standard. We should mention that it does come with performance gear ratios.
In all honesty, the Dart isn’t as bad as everyone thinks it is, but we can see why it fails to sell in the numbers Dodge expects. Take one for a test drive to make sure for yourself, but we’d suggest you try out other cars in the segment. Still, with a starting price of just $17,000 you can’t really complain about what you’re getting.