If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or are one of my very few friends (I have very few friends :() on Facebook, you’ll have noted that I spent 3 straight weeks driving various Mopar, aka Chrysler, products. In my infinite creative wisdom, I coined that period of time #moparimmersion.
It started with the Durango, followed by the subject of this review, then a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and finally, the all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade. With each round of the immersion, I found numerous similarities between each and, obviously, many differences.
If you take into consideration that I love small cars for all the right reasons, you’d surmise that I truly enjoyed the Dart and the Renegade, then the Grand Cherokee, followed by the Durango. You’d be partially right: the Dart came in dead last and by quite a margin. Where the Dart failed, the others surpassed my expectations.
Sporty by nature?
Just because a given car bears the famous and world recognized super performance GT letters on its rump does not mean that the car is akin to the Ford GT or Mercedes-AMG GT. No, as it can also mean that it’s more in a league with the Hyundai Elantra GT…
To be fair, the Dart GT is slightly more exciting to drive than the Elantra. The reasons come mostly from was motivates the Dart, in this case, a 184 horsepower 2.4L Tigershark 4-cylinder engine. The standard 6-speed manual gearbox plays an equally important as I cannot imagine I would have driven the Dart as much as I did were it equipped with the optional 6-speed auto.
Another player in what makes the Dart decent enough to drive is its chassis that is firm and does not suffer any drawbacks. The 2015 Dart’s fully independent “sporty” tuned suspension is well sorted. The combination of both elements is the best aspect of the car.
Taking it to the road
The 2015 Dodge Dart’s ride is quite good, supple with little body roll in corners maintaining stability and control.
Now, if performance were simply to be measured by how the car feels on the road, the Dart would score highly. Sadly for it, throttle-response, transmission actuation, steering and brakes are all crucial. Where the Dart suffers most is in its laggy, almost lazy throttle. The blubbery feel and reaction of the go-pedal is worsened but a soft long-travel clutch pedal and a rubbery shifter. Throws are thankfully short-ish but there’s nothing satisfying about rowing through the car’s 6 cogs.
Here’s a funny thought: I became particularly aware of this while I was driving the Renegade with the 1.4T and 6-speed manual box! This mini-CUV-truck’s manual gearbox action and throttle were Viper-sharp by comparison. Colour me confused…
Where brakes and steering are concerned, there is nothing special to report.
Good from far
The 2015 Dodge Dart is one of the better-looking compact cars on the road today. It sports sleek modern lines that should have youngsters and enthusiast alike crashing through dealership doors but clearly, this is not the case. And I’m only referring to the base car.
As we move through trims, the car grows in physical appeal. This is especially true from the Blacktop on. My GT featured a Hyper Black grille and 18” aluminum wheels along with integrated dual exhaust tailpipes.
The variety of available colours serves to funk things up even more. I’m not a huge fan of the Dodge oversized LED taillamps but they sure are distinctive.
The Dart shines where interior space is concerned. Overall, the cabin’s design and layout are quite good and I really like Chrysler’s Uconnect 8.4” touchscreen display, that is, once it actually boots up.
Call it a sign of the times but when I want a screen to come to give me access to numerous functions, I do not want to wait 10-15 seconds for it to “warm up”. I found the same situation occurring with the Durango, Grand Cherokee but not as much with the Renegade – a newer generation perhaps.
In other words, with the outside temperature pegged at a paltry -20 degrees Celsius, I had to wait for the screen to come online for me to activate the heated seats and steering wheel (admittedly a very nice touch in a car of this category). Once going, I found navigating through the menus to be a breeze and very user-friendly.
The base Dart SE starts the pricing game at a very competitive $15,995 with the 160 horsepower 2.0L 4-pot. For $3k more, the SXT brings the 2.4L while the Aero, at $19,995 features the 160 horsepower (184 lb.-ft. of torque) turbocharged 1.4L. My very well equipped GT tipped the price scale at just under $24k with options like navigation.
The Dart’s real problems are as follows: Honda Civic, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze, and so on and so forth…