As winter arrived in Michigan, we said goodbye to our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT after 12 months. During its last month in our fleet, our feelings toward the humble compact sedan barely changed.
We started the month off by taking the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT in for another scheduled service appointment. The oil change, tire rotation, and inspection were completed for free as part of the car's warranty. Next we paid $100 to remount our Pirelli Sottozero Serie II winter tires, from The Tire Rack, our official wheel and tire supplier, onto the Dart's factory 16-inch wheels. We found them far grippier in snow and ice than the all-season rubber the car rode on for the rest of the year.
Next, graphic designer John Kalmar put serious miles on the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT as he traveled around Michigan over Thanksgiving weekend. The journeys between towns were fine, but Kalmar once again struggled to acclimate to the Dart's dual-clutch automatic when he arrived at his destination.
"Once the Dart gets to highway speeds, I actually feel content behind the wheel," he said. "But at lower speeds, the wonky dual-clutch transmission makes city driving a headache."
Other complaints came not from Kalmar, but from his friends. Three adults squeezed into the back seat and found themselves contorted like pretzels, prompting moaning until the after-effects of a turkey dinner put the passengers to sleep.
A short time later, Kalmar was on the road again in the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT, this time for a last-minute trip to see his beloved Michigan State Spartans play football in Indianapolis, Indiana. He reported no problems on his 13-hour round trip, even when unexpected snowfall put the winter tires to the test. In fact, Kalmar found the car's only demerits to be aesthetic: "This infotainment system is straightforward and easy to use. While the graphics may look like something from a PowerPoint presentation, its functionality trumps any personal graphic design complaints I have."
With that, our 2013 Dodge Dart SXT spent its remaining few days shuttling staffers to and from the office, to grocery stores, and to holiday parties. Nobody expressed much remorse when the car departed our office, even though most drivers found the car quiet, comfortable, and reasonably satisfying to drive. It was only the funky transmission that left us frustrated in our year with the smallest Dodge.