"From a utilitarian perspective, the Dodge Dart is well designed."
It was a quiet month for the 2013 Dodge Dart as the summer road-trip season wound down. Instead, we tasked the compact sedan with more quotidian duties -- namely, waiting at the airport while associate editor Greg Migliore attended the Frankfurt Motor Show.
"From a utilitarian perspective, the Dodge Dart is well designed," he reports. "The trunk is cavernous for a car this size; my carry-on bag and laptop case barely made a dent."
Once home from Germany, Migliore got back into the swing of American life by taking the Dodge Dart to tailgate at a college football game. Once again confirming our impression that this compact sedan offers an outsize amount of interior room, Migliore had no problem packing the Dart with the drinks cooler, chairs, and food necessary for enjoying a Michigan State football game.
His one gripe sounded awfully familiar: "This gearbox always seems to have a hesitation or delay. I feel like this particular dual-clutch transmission needs more refinement." With that in mind, we were thrilled when the dealership reprogrammed our Dodge Dart's transmission during a service appointment. The technicians discovered a technical service bulletin designed to address customer complaints of hesitant, rough, and noisy shifts from the optional six-speed dual-clutch. The new transmission software was installed for free, but not everyone is convinced it made a difference.
"It's been reflashed?" asked copy editor Rusty Blackwell. "The low-speed downshifts still make a substantial ka-chunk sound."
Associate online editor Joey Capparella, on the other hand, welcomed the software tweak. "Low-speed creeping is definitely smoother than before, and overall the transmission is less obtrusive. The driving experience isn't significantly better, but it was enough to make the car a more pleasant companion on my commute."
We had originally booked our Dodge Dart into the dealership for a front-end alignment, as the angle of the steering wheel no longer quite agreed with the direction in which the car drove. That ended up costing us $52.95. While the Dart was in the shop, Dodge technicians also performed two recalls on our car. The first involved reprogramming the turbocharged engine's computer to prevent abrupt stalling in cold weather. Although we didn't experience that problem last winter, we're glad to know it won't be an issue when the mercury drops in the coming months. The second recall involved modifying the fuel-filler door to prevent it from rattling or becoming difficult to open. Once again, this was not a problem we had experienced on our Dart.