Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
May 2, 2012
If you have been wondering why there has been a lack of news here on Cheers & Gears for the past couple of days, I can explain why.
Right now I'm in Austin and just finished up driving the new Dodge Dart. I will have a first drive report sometime next week, but I wanted to give some quick impressions about it.
Compared to the Caliber, the Dart is a drastic 180 turn. The Dart's overall look has a lot of Italian influence with smooth surfaces and sexy curves. But the Dart is still a Dodge and lets you know about it. The front carries Dodge's crosshair grill. Step around the back and the back light bar from the Challenger and Charger makes an appearance.
As for the Dart's interior, its a massive step forward with flowing lines, soft touch materials, and technologies like an optional 8-inch touchscreen. One downside is lack of legroom for back seat passengers.
Three powertrains are available for the Dart: a 2.0L Tigershark four-cylinder, a 1.4T four-cylinder, and a 2.4L Tigershark four. At the Dart event, only the 2.0L and 1.4T were available to drive. The 2.4L four will be out later this year with the R/T.
The 2.0L Tigershark produces 160 HP and 148 lb-ft of torque and can go through either a six-speed manual or automatic. During the drive, I found 2.0L and automatic to be a fine companion as power came smoothly, even though you had to climb above 3,000 RPMs to find it. Dodge says the Dart gets fuel economy of 25 MPG city and 36 MPG highway. During the time I had behind the wheel, I averaged about 29 MPG.
As the 1.4T, I didn't get the chance to drive it due to the models equipped came as six-speed manuals and I can't drive a manual. A dual-clutch transmission is due out later this year and hopefully I will get the chance to check it out.
As for the drive, the Dart is a sweetheart. The Dart's suspension tip toes the lines of sport and comfort. One moment, the Dart provides excellent handling around the twisty roads of Texas. The next, the Dart is providing a smooth and quiet ride. Steering is heavy and direct, something that is very appricated.
I will have more thoughts on the Dart later next week. If you guys have any questions, I will do my best to answer them.