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  • William Maley
    William Maley
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    Review: 2014 Dodge Dart SXT 2.4

      The Dangers of First Drive-itus

    Automotive writers like myself suffer from a sickness sometimes called first drive-itus. Essentially first drive-itus is when an automotive has a different opinion on a vehicle than when they first drove it on a first drive event. No one is quite sure how first drive-itus manifests or where it comes from. There is a reason I’m telling you this because I think I had first drive-itus. A couple of years ago, I had the great fortune of heading down to Austin, Texas, to be one of the first people to check out the brand new Dodge Dart. At the time, I came away very impressed and said in my first drive that competitors should be watching their back. But recently, I spent a week with a 2014 Dodge Dart SXT and I came away somewhat disappointed. Read on to see why that is.

    The Dart in my eyes is still one of the best looking compact models on sale today. While the basic shape seems to mimic a number of compact models, Dodge’s designers took some elements from the larger Charger and Challenger to help make the Dart stand out. Those elements include the crosshair grille up front and long taillight in the back. On the SXT model, you get a set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels which add a nice touch of class to the Dart.

    2014 Dodge Dart SXT 2.4L 14

    Chrysler in general has been really stepping up their game with their interiors, in terms of design and quality. The Dart is an almost perfect example of this. While the interior design doesn’t have quite the same excitement of the exterior, it does feature impressive material and build quality. One feature I’m glad to see as option on this midlevel SXT is the 8.4-inch touchscreen with UConnect. I have praised this system before in previous Chrysler reviews and will do so once again. The system is easy to understand and use, and is very responsive when performing tasks.

    As for passengers, the front has more than enough space for anyone and the seats provide excellent support. The back seat doesn’t fair as well due to head and legroom being somewhat tight. At least the seats have good support.

    When I first drove the Dart, there was choice of three different engines; a 2.0L MulitAir four-cylinder, a 1.4L Turbocharged MultiAir four, and a 2.4L MultiAir. Since that time, the 2.0L is only available on the SE model, the 1.4T has been relegated to the Dart Aero model only, and the 2.4L has become the volume engine. The 2.4 makes 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. This can either be paired to a six-speed manual or my tester’s six-speed automatic. The 2.4 paired with Fiat’s Multiair tech got the Dart moving in a hurry. Power is available throughout the rev range, so you don’t feel like the vehicle is underpowered. Refinement is very much tops with NVH levels kept a minimum. The six-speed automatic provided very smooth shifts. On the fuel economy front, the EPA rates the Dart 2.4L at 23 City/35 Highway/27 Combined. I saw average of 27 MPG for the week.

    2014 Dodge Dart SXT 2.4L 11

    One of the high praises I gave the Dart when I drove it was how much fun it was to drive. This still holds true. When driving the Dart on some curvy roads, it felt poised with little hint of body roll. Steering was nicely weighted and provided good feedback I as drove along. A lot of this comes down to the CUSW platform the Dart rides on which was derived from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. However when I was not driving along the back roads, I felt the engineers engineers forgot to make the suspension able to cope with road imperfections and potholes. Driving along Michigan’s ‘amazing’ roads, the Dart felt too stiff and made passengers feel like they were being jostled around. I actually wrote in my notes whether or not the Dart’s suspension was made out of concrete. On the plus side, wind and road noise were kept to minimum levels.

    When I concluded my first drive report on the Dart, I said that it could make the domestic and import competition a bit nervous. Now after spending a week in the Dart, I’m not sure about that statement. The Dart has a lot good things going for it such as amount technology available, unique design, an impressive engine, and fun to drive characteristics. But when you drive the Dart day to day on the road, the road quality problem rears its head and for many, is a huge turn off. The Dart is almost there, but it needs a bit more finishing work.

    Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Dart SXT, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Dodge

    Model: Dart

    Trim: SXT

    Engine: 2.4L Inline-Four with Multiair

    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 6,250

    Torque @ RPM: 171 @ 4,800

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/35/27

    Curb Weight: 3,348 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Belvidere, Illinois

    Base Price: $18,495.00

    As Tested Price: $22,025.00 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)


    Six-Speed Powertech Automatic Transmission - $1,250

    8.4-inch UConnect Touchscreen Group - $595

    UConnect 8.4 FM/AM/NAV - $495

    SiriusXM Satellite Radio w/One-Year Subscription - $195

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Very good read. Thanks this helps gain a better understanding of the car.


    Now in comparison to other competitors, how does this line up? What cars would you list below it and which ones above it?

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    Good write up but I definitely do not find the exterior even remotely exciting.

    Curb weight 3348! Holy cow this thing weights as much as several mid size sedans!

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    Good write up but I definitely do not find the exterior even remotely exciting.


    I should say in the compact class



    Now in comparison to other competitors, how does this line up? What cars would you list below it and which ones above it?


    The Dart is somewhere in the middle, alongside the Cruze and the Civic. I think the new Corolla, Forte, and Mazda3 are my top three at the moment. (BTW: Corolla and Mazda3 reviews are incoming. Stay tuned.)

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    Actually, I think this is a fantastic looking car. Interior is very, very nice.  When they first came out I was turned off by a few cars that had been seemingly rushed down the production line with regards to interior quality.  However, once production got ramped up, i can honestly say that I think every interior that I have seen has been very well bolted together.


    Were I not a hot hatch/sport compact kind of a guy, this car would really be on my short list.  As it is, methinks a GTI would trump it, albeit at a higher (much higher) cost.

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    Seen a few on the roads here, actually, they look real nice...But 3,350 pounds? Seriously, that's crazy. At that weight, it ought to ride pretty nice.

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    Heavy too heavy, but even the cruze can get porky. Dart's major weaknesses are it's new era Neon looks, tight rear, confused power train options. The cruze and focus are killing this car as is the deeply discounted avengers and 200's within chrysler's own stable.

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    Passat is an order of magnitude nicer car IMHO. With the TDI, you get a car with amazing interior room and 45mpg...plus diesel tourque. Well worth a few thousand more over the Dart. Dart is still a nice car though.

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