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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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      627
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      10,926
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      5,644
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      42,955
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      34,145
      8%
      441,862
      408,724
      8%
      Cargo Van
      0
      2
      -100%
      21
      2,157
      -99%
      ProMaster Van
      4,702
      2,084
      126%
      35,746
      23,658
      51%
      ProMaster City
      924
      1,721
      -46%
      14,625
      8,015
      82%
      RAM BRAND
      42,511
      37,952
      12%
      492,254
      442,554
      11%
      Giulia
      0
      0
      New
      7
      0
      New
      Alfa 4C 
      23
      34
      -32%
      457
      603
      -24%
      ALFA BRAND
      23
      34
      -32%
      464
      603
      -23%
      500
      1,147
      974
      18%
      14,026
      22,243
      -37%
      500L
      96
      231
      -58%
      3,016
      7,275
      -59%
      500X
      822
      1,621
      -49%
      10,869
      7,785
      40%
      Spider
      350
      0
      New
      2,225
      0
      New
      FIAT BRAND
      2,415
      2,826
      -15%
      30,136
      37,303
      -19%
      TOTAL FCA US LLC
      160,827
      187,731
      -14%
      2,051,796
      2,038,953
      1%
                        Total Car & MPV
      38,142
      57,802
      -34%
      545,787
      647,421
      -16%
          Total UV's
      80,174
      91,977
      -13%
      1,013,755
      948,978
      7%
          Total Truck & LCV
      42,511
      37,952
      12%
      492,254
      442,554
       
    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A
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