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Report: Dodge Dart, Others Miss the Mark in Consumer Reports Testing

The Big Three American automakers have been on a roll lately, releasing a slew of great new products. However, Consumer Reports suggests the latest sedans from Dodge, Lincoln, Cadillac, and Chevrolet may not be so great after all. The shopping guide announced today it will not recommend the 2013 Dodge Dart, 2013 Lincoln MKS, 2013 Cadillac XTS, and 2013 Chevrolet Spark after testing the four cars.

Consumer Reports admitted that the Dart had a lot of potential and that it is "the first decent compact from Dodge in decades." CR praised the quiet cabin, the lengthy option list, and the car's good handling. However, that was not enough for the Dart to make it onto CR's recommended list. According to CR, The standard 2.0-liter I-4 with a six-speed automatic feels underpowered, while the 1.4-liter turbo-four is unrefined and paired with a "poorly-shifting" six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. CR also took issue with the Dart's interior, finding the rear seat to be cramped and the front chairs "lumpy [with] uneven, uncomfortable cushioning."

Both the Lincoln and the Cadillac were outmatched by European and Asian rivals in CR's testing, but the two midsize luxury sedans took big hits because of their infotainment systems (MyLincoln Touch in the former, and CUE in the latter). Consumer Reports previously dinged both Ford and Lincoln for their capacitive button and touchscreen infotainment systems, but it also takes issue with the MKS' cramped cabin, poor visibility, and "ungainly" handling. The Cadillac, on the other hand, impressed with a luxurious and spacious interior and big trunk; however, the ride wasn't as "silky [as] you'd expect from a big Caddy, and although it handles well for its size, it doesn't have the finesse or brawn of the better German and Asian competitors." CR also spewed some vitriolic comments regarding the XTS' CUE infotainment system: "CUE stands for Cadillac User Experience…but the problem is that the 'C' can also stand for confusing, convoluted, and complicated."

Finally, the diminutive Chevrolet Spark faltered thanks to a slow engine, a "stiff, jittery ride," too-small seats, and overly loud cabin noise. CR quite liked the Spark's low price, high content, and good fuel economy, but would not recommend the tiny Chevy because there are too many other offerings in the subcompact and compact classes that offer as much content and as good fuel economy for not much more money.

We were not able to contact all of the manufacturers for comment at the time of publication; however, Chrysler has issued a statement saying: "Chrysler Group is pleased that Consumer Reports has found the 2013 Dodge Dart to be a "promising small sedan" and "earned praise from Consumer Reports" in a number of areas.

However, we are disappointed to discover that with up to 41 mpg highway fuel economy that in the eyes of Consumer Reports we did not strike the optimum balance between horsepower and fuel economy with our existing powertrains.

With the introduction of our 2.4-liter, 184 horsepower engine into the Dart during Q1 2013, we expect the above to improve."

Source: Consumer Reports 1, 2, 3