Test Drive: 2014 Dodge Dart Limited Review

I drove, but did not do a full review of the Dodge Dart last year when it came out. When I drove it, I thought it was a good value, but woefully underpowered. Now comes the 2014 Dodge Dart, and apparently Chrysler figured out that for this car to be successful, they had to give it more under the hood. Hence, the new 2.4-liter 4-cylinder I am reviewing this week.

The Dart is based on an Alfa Romeo platform, and my tester is the top-of-the-line Limited model. The new engine comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and it is putting out a very respectable 184-horses. The lack of power issue is solved, and I give kudos to Chrysler for making such a major change in just the second year of production.

2014_dodge_dartI’ll admit I do not love the exterior looks of this compact car, but it has a lot of positive qualities. It comes in a trim level to please everyone, starting with the SE, the SXT, the Aero, the sporty GT, and finally the Limited. From the SE to the Limited, there is a $7000 spread. Dart has a wider stance and longer wheelbase than most compacts, which is one of the reasons it drives and rides so well.

Inside, this Dart has a wonderful plush leather interior, it has a large back seat without sacrificing front seat legroom. This car would comfortably fit 4 adults with no problem. Trunk space is more than ample, and you can fold the rear seat down in a 60/40 configuration for even more room if needed. I was a little surprised to open the door and see white leather on top where the passengers sit, accented by black everywhere else. You almost have to see it to imagine it, but it works. The leather is soft and appears to be of exceptional quality. Accent stitching on the dash is a plus.

From behind the wheel, everything is well laid out and fluid. It has steering wheel controls and red illumination around the dash that is just downright cool. Dart has an easy to reach color touchscreen display that operates everything except the climate control system, which is dual zone. The Limited comes with Garmin navigation, heated seats, remote start, backup camera, power seat, and a power sunroof.

It also has Uconnect voice command and Bluetooth, which also gives you real-time traffic, weather, sports scores, and fuel prices. For the record, I think the Chrysler Uconnect screen is the easiest and most intuitive of any vehicle I’ve ever been in. Everything is right where you can see it. With many of these type systems, you have to go through numerous pages just to change the radio.

Also as standard, you get keyless entry, remote start system, a year’s worth of SiriusXM radio, traction control, heated exterior mirrors, and LED tail lights.

For $995 retail, you can (and should) get the Technology Package, which includes an intrusion alarm, backup sensors, blind spot monitoring, automatic high beam control, HID headlights, and rain-sensitive wipers. If you want the polished wheels like my tester has, they only set you back $395.

Every 2014 Dodge Dart comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags.

In government crash testing, the Dart earned the highest possible rating of five stars for overall crash protection and in the frontal- and side-impact protection categories. It also received five stars in the Overall crash test rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Dart a top score of “Good” in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset test, the Dart earned an “Acceptable” rating (second-highest on a scale of four). Its seat/head restraint design was rated “Good” for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

The Dart drives exceptionally well, you don’t feel every bump in the road, and the interior quietness is very good. It is amazing you can get everything this car has on it for the retail price. I stop short of giving it a 5 Star rating only due to the fuel economy. It is coming up about 5 miles per gallon short in highway driving based on comparable other compact cars. This car is a real value, especially when you consider that at this time, in most markets, it has a $1500 factory rebate.

What I liked most: The value proposition of the Dart Limited, and the interior.

What I would change: Love to have a 7-speed to get it to 40 MPG highway.

MSRP: Base price $22,995, as equipped $25,380.

Fuel Economy: 23 in town/35 highway/27 combined.

Weight: 3348 Pounds.

2014 Dodge Dart Limited in a few words: A lot of car for not a lot of money.

Warranty: 3 year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance.

Manufacturers website: http://www.dodge.com/en/dart/model_details/#model=limited

Dealers: We have great dealers for all Chrysler products in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Lubbock, Sacramento, Cleveland, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.

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