And it’s too bad, really. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. As much as car enthusiasts bash on cheap econoboxes, they strengthen the bottom line of auto manufacturers. Say, for example, a certain auto maker that had to cancel an iconic V10 GT coupe in favor of a useless dragster. But that’s beside the point. If the Dart were subject to some refinement, it could be a useful tool for FCA.
There were a few contributing factor’s to the end of the Dart’s short existence. Reliability just can’t be stressed enough when discussing any FCA vehicle. U.S. News gives the 2016 Dart’s reliability rating 2/5 stars. CheatSheet had Jeep, Ram, and Dodge all on their list of the 10 least reliable auto brands for 2013. Much hasn’t changed since then. FCA has some work to do when it comes to their reputation for reliability.
At 3200 pounds, it’s a bit on the heavy side when compared to its competitors. This comes into play when buyers cross shop the Dart, Civic, Mazda3, of Fiesta ST. It affects fuel mileage which is a major consideration in the Dart’s segment. A base Dart is similar in weight to a loaded competitor’s model.
Dodge Dart used to mean something special. A economy-sized chassis that you could stuff a 426 Hemi into. A hobby racer of the Chevy Nova type. The most recent iteration wasn’t much more than a commuter/daily car, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the essence of the car was betrayed by its name. Bring it back, and call it the Neon again. There could even be another iteration of the SRT-4, because hot hatches are the new cool thing.
I’ll let the video speak for itself here.
I hope FCA makes another run at the economy car. Competition in the segment is what makes the boring cars affordable for all of us, and provides the manufacturer a volume seller to boost the research and development of new enthusiast models. Ideally ones that are good for more than a straight line.