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Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the Dodge Dart SE include MultiAir 2.0L I-4 160hp engine, 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, rear side-impact airbag, driver and passenger knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, 16" steel wheels, ABS and driveline traction control, electronic stability, power windows, AM/FM/Satellite-prep in-dash mounted single CD MP3 decoder, with 4 speakers.
Starting at: $16,895
|SE Search New||$16,995||160-hp 2.0L 4-cyl||6-spd man.||25 / 36|
|SXT Search New||$19,395||184-hp 2.4L 4-cyl||6-spd man.||22 / 35|
|Aero Search New||$21,095||160-hp 1.4L 4-cyl||6-spd man.||28 / 41|
|GT Search New||$22,095||184-hp 2.4L 4-cyl||6-spd man.||23 / 33|
|Limited Search New||$24,395||184-hp 2.4L 4-cyl||6-spd auto||23 / 35|
Engine choice determines whether a Dart behaves like a sporty car or an economy machine. Performance is not always as inspiring as exterior styling suggests.
Darts are heavier than most compact sedans, so the standard 160-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder can result in sluggish response when merging into heavy freeway traffic, especially on an uphill ramp while heavily loaded. Even when simply rolling down the highway with friends or family aboard, lack of energetic reactions can be noticeable. On the plus side, the 6-speed automatic transmission that most buyers select does a great job of choosing the right gear at the right time.
Pick the turbocharged, 160-horsepower 1.4-liter engine and, despite identical horsepower, you’ll quickly notice additional torque, resulting in better acceleration and a sportier, more responsive driving experience. Even with the turbo, though, you’ll have to keep your foot firmly pushed into the accelerator pedal much of the time, to make those pleasing actions take place. In part, that’s because the transmission is geared tall, to keep the engine revs low at highway cruising speeds, which helps fuel economy. That translates to less-exuberant performance while acceleration toward higher velocities.
If you’re willing to relinquish a few miles-per-gallon, we believe the best option in the lineup is the 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which is standard in SXT, Limited, and GT models. In SXT and GT, the 2.4-liter is available with either a manual gearbox or an automatic transmission, while the Limited is automatic-only.
With its wide stance and seemingly low cowl, the Dodge Dart looks more substantial than some other models in its class.
Like the larger Dodge Charger sedan, with its chunky, spirited appearance, the Dart suggests a sense of dignity and seriousness that isn’t always present in an affordable model. A long, smoothly flowing roofline and low fender tops help differentiate Dart from the more boxy look of a Cruze or Focus.
Inside, a flowing dashboard builds upon the sporty-looking exterior. Upper-level models feature an 8.4-inch display that handles navigation, climate, and audio controls. A smaller screen, offering vehicle information, sits between gauges.
Unlike some compacts, the Dart is amazingly spacious. In some ways, it’s virtually a midsize sedan. Seats are comfortable in both the front and the rear. Considering the Dart’s profile, the seating position is higher than you might expect.
For a relatively low-priced compact, the cabin appointments come across as warm and inviting. Just about everywhere you’re likely to touch, the surfaces feel soft and coordinate neatly with the details of the dashboard. Large swaths of textured plastic detract from potential elegance, however.
Outward visibility is impressive. That’s not such a common appraisal in this era of strengthened roofs.
With three engine choices and three transmission possibilities, the Dart has several personalities. Although the Dart is hardly a sports sedan, it demonstrates more sportiness in both appearance and behavior than many shoppers might suspect.
Driving impressions by Bengt Halvorson, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.
The 2016 Dodge Dart comes in five trim levels:
Dart SE ($16,695) has the 2.0-liter engine, with 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes cloth seats with mesh inserts, Uconnect four-speaker radio with CD player, and 16-inch steel wheels. (All prices are MSRP and do not include $995 destination charge.)
Dart SXT ($19,000) uses the 2.4-liter engine and manual or optional automatic transmission. Upgrades include LED taillamps, automatic headlights, cruise control, six-speaker radio, Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth, and 60/40-split folding rear seat.
Dart Aero ($20,495) gets the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and 6-speed manual or optional dual-clutch 6-speed transmission. Standard are a chrome grille, 8.4-inch touchscreen, configurable gauges, rearview camera, and 16-inch aluminum wheels.
Dart Limited ($23,795) has the 2.4-liter engine mated with the 6-speed automatic. Included are a touring suspension, dual-zone automatic climate control, Nappa leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, SiriusXM radio, and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
Dart GT ($21,995) adds a frequency-sensing sports suspension, performance steering and gear ratios, pushbutton start, rearview camera, and 18-inch wheels.
Safety features on all models include 10 airbags, along with basic electronic safety systems. Blind-spot alert and cross-traffic detection are options.
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