"Uconnect is one of the best infotainment systems on the market because it's so quick and easy to navigate."
The Dodge Dart didn't venture far from home during its third month in our care, covering just 574 miles since our last update. The few staffers who drove the car were smitten with the optional touchscreen navigation and audio interface.
"Uconnect is one of the best infotainment systems on the market because it's so quick and easy to navigate," announced associate web editor and gadget freak Ben Timmins. Unlike the much-maligned MyFord Touch, Chrysler's touchscreen responds instantly to commands, and its large icons are easy to find at a glance. We were similarly impressed with the same system in our departed Four Seasons Dodge Charger.
"Reversing is totally drama-free because the backup camera is clear and fills up most of the enormous infotainment screen," says managing editor for digital platforms Jennifer Misaros. In other words, there will be no excuses for anyone who crunches the Dart's sheetmetal.
"Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid' sounds great at full volume," reports road test editor Chris Nelson, who was the first to use the CD player hidden in the car's center console. (The rest of us use iPhones and satellite radio to rock out.) "The radio controls mounted on the back of the steering wheel are far easier to use than front-mounted ones," adds Misaros. "I love that they toggle through individual radio stations, not just presets like on some cars."
Our only gripe is that climate control functions are split between the Uconnect interface and physical buttons below the display. After adjusting the temperature and fan speed with the chunky knobs, choosing which vents the air emerges from "requires clicking the 'climate' tab on the touchscreen," complains associate web editor Donny Nordlicht. "I wish there were a simple 'mode' button on the center stack."
With three months of driving completed, we have enough logbook data to see whether the Dart matches its lofty fuel-economy promises. The 1.4-liter turbo engine and dual-clutch transmission are supposed to return 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. So why have we averaged just 25.4 mpg thus far?
Much of the blame goes to enthusiastic driving styles -- "I love, love, love the raspy exhaust note," admits Nelson -- and staffers who cruise above the posted speed limit. Still, we expected better results from a small car designed to be a fuel-economy leader. That the turbo engine drinks premium fuel makes each fill-up even more costly.
As is the case with most cars, the Dart's on-board trip computer is somewhat optimistic when it comes to fuel consumption. Nordlicht was overjoyed when the computer reported 28.8 mpg on one journey, but careful scrutiny of the logbook reveals he actually averaged 26.4 mpg. Our mileage may vary indeed.
Next month we'll get a chance to see how the Dodge Dart fares on a long road trip when we take it to New Jersey. Let's hope a long stint on the highway will increase our middling fuel economy numbers.
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Base price (with dest.)||$18,790|
|Engine||16-valve SOHC turbocharged I-4|
|Displacement||1.4 liters (83 cu in)|
|Power||160 hp @ 5500 rpm|
|Torque||184 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|EPA Fuel Economy||27/37/31 (city/hwy/combined)|
|Turning circle||37.5 ft|
|Suspension, Front||Strut-type, coil springs|
|Suspension, Rear||Multilink, coil springs|
|Brakes F/R||Vented discs/discs|
|Tire size||225/45R-17 94H|
|Headroom F/R||38.6/37.0 in|
|Legroom F/R||42.2/35.2 in|
|Shoulder room F/R||58.2/56.1 in|
|Track F/R||61.7/61.6 in|
|L x W x H||183.9 x 72.0 x 57.7 in|
|Passenger capacity||97.2 cu ft|
|Cargo capacity||13.1 cu ft|
|Weight dist. F/R||xx/xx %|
|Fuel capacity||15.8 gal|
|Est. fuel range||490 miles|
|Fuel grade||93 octane (premium unleaded)|
|STANDARD EQUIPMENT||2.0-liter DOHC I-4 engine 6-speed manual transmission Stability and traction control Variable intermittent windshield wipers Remote keyless entry 4-wheel disc brakes Roll mitigation Hill-start assist Power windows Manual 6-way driver's seats 17-inch aluminum wheels Projector fog lights Black chrome headlight bezels Body-color grille crosshairs Dual rear exhaust exits Cruise control Leather-wrapped steering wheel Premium cloth interior Trip computer|
|1.4-liter SOHC turbocharged I-4 engine||$1,300||Underbody aerodynamic treatment Active grille shutters Bright exhaust tips 140-amp alternator|
|6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission||$1,100|
|Popular Equipment group||$495||Vehicle information center and trip computer Cruise control Leather-wrapped steering wheel Tire pressure monitoring system Front seatback pockets 12V power outlet Sun visors w/vanity mirrors Illuminated cup holders|
|8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen group||$595||Illuminated instrument panel surround iPod control Remote USB port and SD card slot Single-disc CD player|
|Uconnect 8.4 w/navigation||$494||Automatic headlights|
|SiriusXM travel and real-time traffic w/one-year trial subscription||$---||Rearview camera|
|LED "racetrack" taillights||$225|
|SiriusXM satellite radio w/one-year trial subscription||$195|