2014 Dodge Dart SXT: Around The Block

Patrick M Hoey

Sometimes the smallest of things can sour a relationship. We were barely past the honeymoon phase with our Four Seasons 2013 Dodge Dart SXT when we began wondering whether it was time to call it quits. Surging, inconsistent power delivery from its turbo engine and a recalcitrant, clunking dual-clutch transmission overwhelmed any other affection we had for the Dart. Dodge appears to have had the same misgivings, and has relegated the 1.4-liter turbo engine and dual-clutch to the low-volume Aero model. With a new powertrain under the hood of the 2014 Dodge Dart SXT, we decided to take another look and see if we could reconcile with the car.

The 2.4-liter Tigershark engine in this 2014 Dodge Dart has more horsepower but less torque than the 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo of our Four Seasons car, but the key difference is its linear and predictable throttle response. With the larger engine, you never have to wait for turbo boost to build or suffer through its surges and lags when you're accelerating. The six-speed automatic, too, is blissfully unremarkable, whereas the dual-clutch frustrated us by hesitating, lurching into gear, and frequently picking the wrong gear altogether. The updated car drives just like any other compact sedan, and that's a big improvement.

With powertrain problems solved, we can focus on the 2014 Dodge Dart's many virtues. The optional UConnect infotainment system remains one of our favorite touchscreens for its intuitive, quick operation. Taut handling and strong brakes make the Dart fun to drive, although it's not quite as good as the segment-leading Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Jetta. The cabin is spacious, the trunk deep, and outward visibility is impressive. In fact, the only demerits are the unusual seat stitching patterns on the sandstone-colored interior fabrics, which clash with the black color scheme and are readily felt through one's backside.

The 2014 Dodge Dart still isn't practical or exciting enough to make it our favorite compact sedan; a Dart GT with this powertrain combo was knocked out early in our most recent compact sedan test. Yet had our Four Seasons Dodge Dart SXT been equipped with this engine and gearbox, we would have liked it a lot more than our unlamented test car.

2014 Dodge Dart SXT

Base Price: $19,490
Price As Tested: $22,025
Engine: 2.4-liter inline-4
Power: 184 hp
Torque: 171 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel
Cargo Capacity: 13.1 cubic feet
Fuel Economy: 23/35 mpg (city/highway)
James Patterson
The VW Jetta is the segment leader? Tell that to the rest of America. VW sales have been lagging of late because the budget Jetta models are poor. Especially the 115hp  S model.
I like the Dart.  Way better than the Caliber, for sure.  Still waiting for a hatch.....
Jared Tester
It's still a Chrysler, proceed with caution
Matthew Meaux
Dodge needs to put the 9 speed automatic out of the Cherokee in the Dart. It would give better acceleration and fuel economy.
Vinny Aces
Humm..Any AlFa, blood under that skin//
Michael Anderson
Soooo instead of fixing the 1.4 and dual clutch they relegated it to the crappy base model? Gee dodge dont try too hard or anything. Pathetic.
C.j. McKinney
Older dodge dart look better
Jimmy Pham
Not trying hard enough, Dodge...FIAT...Marchionne.  Put the 9 speed in there to get the mpg up,  get out a credible SRT version for under $30K to build the performance image.  Just being average isnt enough when you are starting from the back of the pack.  Same thing was done with the Viper, GM blew you out of the water with the new Corvette.  Gotta up your game.
Jose Juan Morales
Still ugly
eric in oregon
It's an improvement. The old Fiat I know would see how crappy the 1.4 is and put it in everything. But the new 2.4 has Less torque than the 1.4? Now that's the Fiat I know!

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