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.

By Joe Bruzek | May 7, 2014 | Comments (5)

Dodge Means Performance: SRT Comes Back to the Fold

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With the Chrysler brand headed for mainstream battle against the likes of Ford, Hyundai, Honda and Chevrolet, the Dodge brand is about to take a much more specialized route: performance, and lots of it.

The bigger news: The SRT brand is being folded into Dodge, ending the confusion of whether it was something separate and apart. The focus on performance and the new directive not to compete with Chrysler brand means that some models will be discontinued, namely the Avenger midsize sedan and Grand Caravan minivan.

What Jeep's Future Looks Like

High-performance variants of the Dart and Journey are on tap, with high-output turbocharged engines; the SRT versions of the Challenger and Charger will get supercharged Hemi V-8 engines. Here's what to expect from the Dodge brand over the next five years:

By Aaron Bragman | May 6, 2014 | Comments (4)

Dodge, Scion Bring Limited Editions to Detroit

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Detroit's debuts won't just be all-new concepts and productions; several automakers are announcing special-edition versions of existing models.

With its new Monogram Series, Scion hopes to embroider its name onto car shoppers' minds in association with premium features. The Toyota-owned brand announced today that the limited-edition versions of the 2014 FR-S and tC — debuting at the 2014 North American International Auto Show next week in Detroit — outfit the coupes with a host of premium features. The Monogram Series' first run will include only 2,000 of the FR-S rear-wheel-drive sports car and 2,500 of the tC front-wheel-drive coupe, both are set to hit dealerships in February.

Scion Series 10 Limited Editions Celebrate Brand's 10th Birthday

In the FR-S, standard Monogram features include leather seats with Alcantara simulated suede inserts; a BeSpoke Premium Audio system with navigation and connected services; high-intensity-discharge headlamps with LED running lights; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated front seats and side mirrors; a color-keyed rear spoiler; and a rear-seat center armrest. The Monogram FR-S starts at $28,155 with a six-speed manual transmission and $29,255 with a six-speed automatic, plus an additional $395 for the exterior Whiteout color. Base 2014 FR-S models start at $25,455; all prices include a $755 destination charge.

By Matt Schmitz | January 9, 2014 | Comments (1)

2014 Toyota Corolla Joins NHTSA Five-Star Safety Club

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After scoring poorly earlier this year in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's stringent small overlap frontal crash test, the 2014 Toyota Corolla received a bit of redemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency today announced that the redesigned-for-2014 compact sedan earned its five-star overall safety designation, receiving individual scores of five stars in both frontal- and side-impact crashes and a score of four stars in the rollover test.

In October, IIHS announced that the 2014 Corolla had scored marginal in its small overlap crash test, which is only one step up from poor — the lowest rating — preventing the car from earning the institute's Top Safety Pick Plus credentials. The small overlap test simulates a car striking an object such as a tree or light pole at 40 mph. The Corolla earned good ratings in IIHS' other four tests and was named a Top Safety Pick (a step down from Plus designation), falling behind competitors including the Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra sedan.

Related
2014 Toyota Corolla Scores Poorly on New Crash Test
2014 Toyota Corolla Cars.com Review
More Safety News on Cars.com

By Matt Schmitz | December 16, 2013 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2013 Dodge Dart

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Vehicles Affected: Some 374 model-year 2013 Dodge Dart sedans manufactured between May 10 and Aug. 24, 2013, and equipped with the Mopar 13 trim package.

The Problem: The front-seat-mounted side airbags may not have been properly installed into the seat. The airbags could fail to deploy in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

By Matt Schmitz | December 6, 2013 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Most-Improved Cars from the Past 15 Years

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If you read our series on the business of redesigns, you know that reimagining a car from the ground up can be a billion-dollar feat to implement the industry's latest technology, keep up with ever-improving competition and ultimately (hopefully) increase sales. They usually do just that: In Cars.com's analysis of 61 redesigns from 2009 to 2012, sales for the average remake saw an increase of 32.6% in the months following.

Why? Just look at their predecessors. Some undertakings replace a onetime star that lingered well past its freshness date (see the Volkswagen New Beetle), while others are the successor to a product doomed from the get-go (see the Dodge Caliber). Whatever you call it, the most improved overhauls can sometimes create butterflies out of automotive caterpillars. An important note: Sometimes the changes go beyond just interiors and drivetrains, and sometimes the car being replaced was so poor that the automaker gave the new version an all-new name.

The last time we named the most-improved cars, we considered models that showed progress through successive generations in the 2000s. This time, our editors nominated the most improved single redesigns from the past 15 years.

By Kelsey Mays | October 14, 2013 | Comments (13)

2014 Dodge Dart: What's Changed

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Most significant changes: 2.4-liter four-cylinder available on more models; more standard features for Limited

Price change: No change on SE or GT models; SXT increases $500, Aero by $600 and Limited up $3,000

On sale: Late fall

Which you should buy, 2013 or 2014? 2013; with prices going up and an abundance of them on dealer lots, shoppers should consider the 2013 unless they want the 2.4-liter engine

The Dart debuted for 2013 to revive a long-dormant Dodge model name with an upscale interior and lots of customization options. Shoppers didn't seem to like all the choices, so for 2014, Dodge is reshuffling the features you get with each trim level. And a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine becomes more widely available on the compact sedan.

By Rick Popely | September 2, 2013 | Comments (18)

IIHS Tests 12 Compact Cars: Six Pass, Six Fail

A half-dozen compact cars have earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick+ honor, the nonprofit vehicle-safety advocacy group announced today. Of the 12 models evaluated, top awardees included the two- and four-door versions of the 2013 Honda Civic, 2013 Dodge Dart, 2013 Ford Focus, 2013 Hyundai Elantra and 2014 Scion tC. All of these received Good or Acceptable ratings overall in five different crash tests.

Six other cars — the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic, 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, 2013 Volkswagen Beetle, 2013 Nissan Sentra, 2013 Kia Soul and 2014 Kia Forte — earned Marginal or Poor ratings. "In some cases dummies' heads struck hard structures like the windshield pillar and instrument panel," IIHS media relations associate Kristin Nevels said in a statement.

By Matt Schmitz | August 8, 2013 | Comments (8)

Do Turbocharged Cars Require More Maintenance?

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Turbocharged engines will require more frequent maintenance, such as oil changes and fresh spark plugs, though they typically don't require additional service compared to naturally aspirated engines. Here are some examples: Dodge advises changing the spark plugs on the Dart's turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder every 30,000 miles, compared with every 100,000 miles for the 2.0- and 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engines. Dodge does not post a schedule for oil changes, instead telling owners to have it done based on an oil-change indicator system that monitors how many short trips you make, outside temperatures and other driving conditions.

On the 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder used in the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, Hyundai says to change the oil every 7,500 miles or at least once a year. With the turbocharged 2.0-liter, Hyundai says to do the first oil change after 3,000 miles or six months and then every 5,000 miles or six months. Spark plug changes also are more frequent on the turbo 2.0-liter: every 45,000 miles or three years versus 105,000 miles or seven years on the 2.4-liter engine.

By Matt Schmitz | August 5, 2013 | Comments (11)

The Top 10 Smallest Recalls of 2013

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We recently counted down the top 10 biggest recalls reported by KickingTires in the first half of 2013. This week, we're out to show it's not always size that counts.

As we demonstrated last time out, among the many millions of vehicles for which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues recalls each year, individual actions themselves can number in the millions — as was the case when Chrysler agreed to inspect and repair 2.7 million Jeep SUVs due to a potential fuel-system problem that could cause fires in rear-end collisions.

At the other end of the spectrum are recalls so small — single-digits-small — that in some cases it might be quicker for us just to shoot an email to the individual vehicle owners than it is to report it. Don't get us wrong; safety recalls are serious business and have the potential to save many lives each year. That said, some households have as many cars parked in their driveway right now as are affected by some recalls.

Without further ado, the smallest recalls reported by Cars.com so far in 2013 are:

By Matt Schmitz | July 29, 2013 | Comments (0)

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