Opinions about Dodge Dart

I am planning to buy a Dodge Dart. Because it is a new car (for my generation), Not much info available out there. I checked cars.com and edmund. I am mostly convinced that it is the car I would like to drive. My only concern would be the reliability. I would like to minimize maintenance cost or costs related to mechanical failures. I would appreciate this communities opinion about the car. Have you heard any complains about this car from owners?

The only complaints that I have heard have to do with the power of the engine, not the reliability of the car.

However, reliability is something that takes a while to be able to quantify, and no vehicle that is this new to the US marketplace could possibly have a valid record regarding its reliability or its durability. Stats like that take at least a couple of years before they are published.

@VDCdriver thanks for your response. What is the problem with the power of the engine? It is 160 horse power according to cars.com.

It’s a new car, and Consumer Reports, which had a recent test on it, cannot give a reliability rating opinion. The overall rating as a car is 61 compared to 82 for the Subaru Imprezza, 80 for the Hyundai Elantra, 78 for the Mazda3, 71 for the Honda Civic, among others. In total the Dart rated 14th, next to last in the 15 car comparison.

My first question to you would be: “Why do you want to buy a Dart?” Have you driven one and are you really impressed with it? Or do you just like the looks? Consumer Reports did mention the relative lack of power compared to other cars in that category.

My only positive feeling for the car is that it looks good and has a tastefully desinged interior. Not a good enough reason to buy a car.

Since "genes " are important, consider that neither Chrysler not Fiat, the “parents” are known for their reliability genes. So draw your own conclusions, but , by all means borrow one for an afternoon and see if you really love driving it. You can’t decide you are going to like driving this car by just reading an Edmunds report.

@Docnick Thanks for your input. I will definitely keep thinking. I haven’t driven the car yet. I am at the stage of researching. I haven’t checked the consumer reports. However, when I compare the Dart, Mazda3, Imprezza and Elantra at cars.com, Dart

  • has the most powerful engine (except a specific model of Mazda3)
  • has the best gas consumption
  • is the most inexpensive

Both the base engine and the upgrade turbo produce 160 HP. The difference is torque. The base engine produces 148 ft-lbs, while the turbo produces 184; almost 25% more. Torque is what gets you going from a stop sign or merging with traffic. The Dart is essentially an Alfa Romeo sedan with the US safety equipment. It might be right for you. But I suggest that you test drive several competing cars before deciding.

“What is the problem with the power of the engine? It is 160 horse power according to cars.com.”

If Hot Rod Monthly stated that the base-model Dart was short on power, you might be able to ignore the comment. However, when practicality and safety-oriented Consumer Reports says that the base model is short on power, you need to give that statement some consideration.

In case you never thought about it, acceleration power is actually a safety factor.
If you can’t merge rapidly enough into expressway traffic that is moving at 70-75 mph, you will have a problem. If you attempt to pass another car on a 2 lane highway, you want to be able to blast past the slower car as quickly as possible, in order to get out of the opposing lane. Yes, power is a safety factor!

Jtsanders explained it very well, and the turbo-charged model is the more desirable–albeit more expensive–Dart model. However, turbo-charged engines need special motor oil and more frequent oil changes, and are more prone to expensive mechanical problems as they age.

“You pays your money, and you takes your choice”, as the old saying goes. My choice, in that market segment would be the Mazda 3 or the Subaru Impreza, as they are just much better cars, overall.

When Fiat imported cars to the US back in the 60’s and 70’s, they had the worse record for reliability, some models were even worse than the Yugo. But things have changed.

I used to work for a division of Fiat that cast aluminum cylinder heads. They made heads for all the US manufacturers. Their quality control program was exceptional. In the early days of aluminum heads, the scrap rate was usually around 50%. At this factory, if the external scrap rate, that is defective heads delivered to the customer, were to exceed 2%, then they would refund the total value added to all the defective heads when the defect was discovered. In other words, if the defects were found at final assembly, they bought the car.

I’ll tell you this, anytime the external scrap rate exceeded 0.2%, it would be a good day to call in sick. In fact, I remember when the internal scrap rate hit 2%, thats defects found at final inspection in the factory, things got extremely uncomfortable. Italians are very high energy people and it is not pleasant to be around them when they get high energy in a negative way, they are great to be around at other times though. They don’t hide their feelings very well.

Fiat has actually improved the quality of Chrysler products since the take over, but I would suggest that you wait until the 2.4l multi-air engine becomes available on the 2014 model. I believe it will produce both an adequate amount of horsepower and torque, and get better gas mileage.

I dont like the interior design of Mazda3 so it is out of option for me. I will pay more attention to Impreza.

@keith If you make parts for Honda or Toyota, you are on a Six Sigma program; you are allowed 1 defective part in 354,000 or so parts!!!

Most Japanese manufacturers are now on that mode, and NipponDenso, who make alternators, starters and other car parts have to bide by this.

The main complaint with the turbo engine in the Dart is that the turbo lag worse than any turbocharged engine to come out in the last 20 years or so, in ordinary driving it’s pretty gutless according to every review I’ve read about the car.

@keith If you make parts for Honda or Toyota, you are on a Six Sigma program; you are allowed 1 defective part in 354,000 or so parts!!!”

Docnick, its a lot more complicated than that. That may be true for a part you produce, but that number is not universal. They fill up books on how six sigma is achieved.

Honda and Toyota cast their own cylinder heads and blocks.

Two other cars to consider are the Ford Focus and Chevy Cruze. Both are highly regarded in the compact segment. The Focus gets kudos for its interior. You should check it out. My daughter has a 2012 Cruze LS and is very happy with it. I suggest that you pay less attention to numbers and test drive a few cars. Your impressions during the test drive are the most important thing.

None of those Dart advantages really hold up

  • power is pretty much meaningless, all these cars have enough power to get the job done
  • mpgs reported by CR is pretty low, lots do better, few do worse
  • cost for similarly-equipped models are all in the same range

A good alternative (since you don’t like the Mazda 3) would be a Chevy Cruze.

It’s pretty simple. If you have to ask around about the reliability of a car that’s new on the market with no history, expect the worse. When our family buys refrigerators or outboards or vacuume cleaners or sailboats, we try to stay with brands with a known history and not one without. This means, no new models. Why would one buy a car for many thousands of dollars and not do the same? I refused to buy any new model car, unless I know for sure, it’s just something else in disguise that as a good history. Can’t say those things about a Dart right now.

ft-lbs, lb-ft, what’s the difference?

Thanks much for leaving all these informative posts. I think the best strategy for me to test Dart, Cruze and Impreza. And also I will use this car in Denver, Colorado. Should I take the city into account? How so?

I would imagine that Subaru is quite popular in Denver. So finding a shop to fix anything that might come up should be pretty easy.

However, turbo-charged engines need special motor oil and more frequent oil changes, and are more prone to expensive mechanical problems as they age.

Synthetic oil isn’t really all that special, just a tad bit more expensive per change. My manual calls for 4 months/5k miles in the severe usage for oil changes, 6 months for the non turbo model(a first for the CX-7 in 2010). I’ve used high octane in my car since new, same with the full synthetic oil. While my manual doesn’t call for full synthetic oil or requires(it recommends) high octane, I still feed it to my car.
Any car will have expensive mechanical problems if it isn’t cared for by its owner(s)

I was under the impresssion that the Dart was basically a Fiat.

I would drive it and see what you think. Also test drive others. I have been a Chrysler fan for years, but one caveat might be that since this is actually an Alfa, if something does break, how hard will it be to get a replacement part? Definitely get the turbo if you’re going to buy one.