2014 Dodge Dart GT Misses the Mark

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Dodge introduced the Dart GT sport trim level to round out the compact car's lineup with a performance suspension, improved steering and a more powerful non-turbocharged 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which pairs with a six-speed manual transmission or conventional six-speed automatic.

The engine and automatic transmission were previously a unique offering when the GT debuted as a 2013, but are now more widely available for 2014. The combination offers a less finicky experience compared to the Dart's laggy 160-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter and clunky dual-clutch automatic transmission.

2014 Dodge Dart Expert Review

So far so good, but it's the GT-specific suspension takes away all the good that the engine and transmission improve upon. I'm not convinced there's an upside to the Dart GT's harsh ride after spending time recently testing one.

The stiff and loud ride grew tiresome after only a few miles on familiar roads as the tires hammered the pavement and emitted an unpleasant thwack over each road imperfection. Even after whipping the Dart GT around a racetrack last year, a Ford Fiesta ST I drove the same day proved a much more capable cheap speed package at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill. The experience left me wanting a Dart GT with a stickier tire, more horsepower or less weight. Dodge recently announced a higher-performance Dart SRT will arrive late in 2016; we'll be anxiously awaiting its debut.   

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Fast-forward to my recent time on the street: I couldn't decipher much gain in the fun factor compared to the regular Dart. Previous Darts I've tested have always offered plenty of driving enjoyment with a taut ride and agile dynamics compared to compact competitors. Other editors didn't feel as strongly as I did about the GT's harsh suspension, though many agree the non-GT is plenty fun already.

This Dart GT rung up a bill of $25,125 with destination, which is a considerable amount of money when a Honda Civic Si sedan is $23,780 with destination, Fiesta ST is $22,225 and the Ford Focus ST is $24,450. Our tester came with the $1,250 automatic transmission, $995 Technology Group with rear park assist, blind spot monitor, high-intensity discharge lights and automatic wipers, plus the $495 navigation option and $395 hyper black wheels.

2014 Dodge Dart: What's Changed

That conventional six-speed automatic isn't without its quirks even though it's a more consistent experience compared to the dual-clutch. The GT's transmission has extremely punchy upshifts as well as mushy downshifts. The available six-speed manual transmission would eliminate that concern and save $1,250. Fuel economy isn't much to brag about with the automatic's ratings of 22/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined, and the manual isn't much better at 23/33/27 mpg.

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For 2014, the more refined but less fuel-efficient 2.4-liter engine is standard equipment on the SXT and Limited as it replaces those trim levels' standard turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, which is now only offered in the Aero trim along with the dual-clutch automatic or manual transmissions. A sophisticated ride and fun factor are already a big part of the Dart, so the GT's rough ride isn't worth the pain now that the more powerful 2.4-liter is the upgraded engine in the SXT and Limited, and with a better fuel economy than the GT. An automatic SXT and Limited gain 1 mpg in combined ratings with a boost of 1 mpg in the city and 4 mpg on the highway.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

Comments 

Steve

The Dart disappoints again? Shocking...

John

I agree that the Dart falls short of excellent competitors, but I applaud Chrysler for how large a step it is from the Avenger/Neon.

Mike

I have a 2014 GT and Love it, it is quick, hugs the curves and is built really well. The navigation and gas mileage has really impressed me and has out preformed any of my friends cars. The merge with Fiat has improved Dodge tremendously.

Sunny

I agree with Mike, the commenter above. I also have a 2014 GT (manual transmission) and also think it's great in turns, nice fit&finish interior, and has one of the most intuitive touchscreen displays in this car class.

Nate

I have a 2014 SXT Rally-E I absolutely love it. I even recommended a friend buy one and he did and loves his too.

Mike Parker

I bought a 2015 Dart GT two weeks ago and have over 800 miles on it. So far, I am more than delighted! It replaced my 2009 Honda Fit Sport (also a terrific car) and I considered a new Fit, Civic Si, Focus ST, Kia Optima and Forte, Mazda 6, Mazda 3 and Honda Accord before chosing the Dart GT. I crossed out the Si and ST because they are not available with an auto tranny. I spend a lot of time driving on I-95 and downtown Miami and a stick shift isn't worth the hassle. The Si also didn't pass the door slam test because it had a tinny ring, much like my Fit. The Dart makes a solid thunk when you close the doors. I am old school and want a car that feels very solid and I frankly prefer one with a little more heft. I prefer the styling (inside and out) to the Mazdas, Accord and Kias and love the 8.4" screen on the dash along with the multi-function TFT display next to the tach. The seats, front and rear are more than comfortable and the sunroof and sound system add to my enjoyment of the car. It's certainly more than fast enough, handles very well on the 225/40-18 Yokohamas and is quiet on the freeways. The ride is firm, probably more so than some would prefer (buy the Limited if that's an issue) but I'm an old sports car guy and I like to really feel the road. My mileage over the past two weeks is around 22mpg, a bit less than the Fit Sport, but ballparkish with my expectations. My only real nit to pick is the Redline Red Pearl paint has a bit more orange peel than I would prefer, but for a $25k car, it's not bad. Based upon my experience, I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. Don't believe all of the negative reviews, many of which seem to be written by folks who have not driven it. I believe if you actually drive one, you'll be impressed and it is a lot of car for the money.

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