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Reviews

2016 Dodge Dart Driving Impressions


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.

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