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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)

    Options:

    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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      Three Jeep brand models recorded sales increases in February. Both the Jeep Grand Cherokee – the brand’s volume leader for the month – and the Jeep Renegade posted 11 percent year-over-year sales increases. In addition, the Jeep Wrangler logged a 2 percent increase in February. Jeep brand retail sales were up year over year in February. The latest Wrangler – the new 2017Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon – debuted at the Chicago Auto Show last month, featuring improved off-road prowess with a stronger front axle, enhanced rock rails and heavy-duty cast differential covers. Also last month, KBB.com announced at the Chicago Auto Show that the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited earned its 5-Year Cost to Own Award in the Mid-size SUV/Crossover category for a third-consecutive year.
       
      FIAT Brand
      Sales of the Fiat 500 were up 1 percent in February, compared with the same month a year ago. Sales of the new Fiat 124 Spider were up 26 percent compared with the previous month of January. The 124 Spider was named in February as one of the Best Cars for the Money in the Sports Car category by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, according to the valuation experts at Hagerty, is one of 10 vehicles this year that stand out as the likeliest to grow in value and appeal to classic car enthusiasts. That puts the 124 Spider Abarth on the “Hagerty Hot List” for 2017. 
       
      Chrysler Brand
      Sales of the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica – the most awarded minivan of 2016 and 2017 – were up in its second month of year-over-year comparisons, and increased 36 percent compared with sales in the previous month of January. The Pacifica continues to earn a plethora of awards and accolades in 2017. In February, the Pacifica was named Best Minivan for the Money by U.S. News & World Report, 2017 Family Vehicle of the Year by the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), and MotorWeek’s 2017 Drivers’ Choice Award for Best Minivan. The Chrysler 300 full-size sedan turned in a 2 percent year-over-year increase in February.
        
      Alfa Romeo Brand
      Alfa Romeo brand sales of 443 units were up 843 percent compared with the same month in 2016.
       
      Maserati Brand
      Maserati brand sales of 1,087 units were up 49 percent compared with the same month a year ago.
       
      U.S. Sales Summary February 2017
                Month Sales
      Vol %
      CYTD Sales
      Vol %
      Model
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
      Compass
      2,737
      8,893
      -69%
      5,901
      15,164
      -61%
      Patriot
      5,512
      11,363
      -51%
      10,212
      19,947
      -49%
      Wrangler
      13,641
      13,349
      2%
      24,975
      24,336
      3%
      Cherokee
      13,615
      15,353
      -11%
      26,166
      32,136
      -19%
      Grand Cherokee
      18,925
      16,990
      11%
      36,226
      30,965
      17%
      Renegade
      7,915
      7,115
      11%
      17,280
      13,282
      30%
      JEEP BRAND
      62,345
      73,063
      -15%
      120,760
      135,830
      -11%
      200
      2,194
      6,259
      -65%
      4,055
      10,944
      -63%
      300
      5,386
      5,304
      2%
      10,094
      10,969
      -8%
      Town & Country
      108
      11,645
      -99%
      246
      23,028
      -99%
      Pacifica
      9,042
      71
      New
      15,712
      110
      New
      CHRYSLER BRAND
      16,730
      23,279
      -28%
      30,107
      45,051
      -33%
      Dart
      1,683
      5,824
      -71%
      3,080
      11,104
      -72%
      Avenger
      0
      6
      -100%
      0
      15
      -100%
      Charger
      6,930
      8,765
      -21%
      14,083
      17,547
      -20%
      Challenger
      6,107
      5,142
      19%
      9,500
      10,803
      -12%
      Viper
      54
      44
      23%
      107
      72
      49%
      Journey
      9,906
      6,375
      55%
      22,542
      17,961
      26%
      Caravan
      13,682
      13,978
      -2%
      24,452
      24,933
      -2%
      Durango
      5,516
      6,851
      -19%
      10,223
      12,852
      -20%
      DODGE  BRAND
      43,878
      46,985
      -7%
      83,987
      95,287
      -12%
      Ram P/U
      39,046
      37,087
      5%
      72,815
      69,651
      5%
      Cargo Van
      0
      0
      0%
      0
      2
      -100%
      ProMaster Van
      2,648
      2,697
      -2%
      5,999
      5,039
      19%
      ProMaster City
      1,091
      1,509
      -28%
      2,016
      2,665
      -24%
      RAM BRAND
      42,785
      41,293
      4%
      80,830
      77,357
      4%
      Giulia
      412
      0
      New
      482
      0
      New
      Alfa 4C 
      31
      47
      -34%
      69
      115
      -40%
      ALFA BRAND
      443
      47
      843%
      551
      115
      379%
      500
      1,131
      1,120
      1%
      2,349
      2,101
      12%
      500L
      72
      370
      -81%
      178
      727
      -76%
      500X
      640
      1,161
      -45%
      1,240
      2,202
      -44%
      Spider
      302
      0
      New
      542
      0
      New
      FIAT BRAND
      2,145
      2,651
      -19%
      4,309
      5,030
      -14%
      TOTAL FCA US LLC
      168,326
      187,318
      -10%
      320,544
      358,670
      -11%
          Total Car & MPV
      47,134
      58,575
      -20%
      84,949
      112,468
      -24%
          Total UV's
      78,407
      87,450
      -10%
      154,765
      168,845
      -8%
          Total Truck & LCV
      42,785
      41,293
      4%
      80,830
      77,357
      4%
                    MASERATI BRAND
      1,087
      728
      49%
      1,976
      1,253
      58%

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