By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
The 2015 Dodge Dart blends European driving sophistication with American style and must-have features. Using a modified version of a European-market Alfa Romeo, this compact sedan goes head-to-head with other compact rivals like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda Mazda3, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla. The Dodge Dart offers three different 4-cylinder engines, five different models ranging from a budget-conscious SE to a more luxurious Limited, and numerous class-exclusive technologies. With front-wheel drive, good fuel economy – especially the Dart Aero model – and excellent safety ratings, the Dodge Dart has a lot going for it. However, this relatively new name has had a tough time carving out a niche in a class dominated by the Civic and Corolla.
The wide range of available models, cool styling, spacious interior and sporty driving experience combined with excellent safety ratings and cutting-edge technology make the compact Dodge Dart sedan an attractive (if frequently overlooked) choice in an extremely competitive segment.
The Dodge Dart isn't the quickest in the segment thanks to its higher-than-average weight. The Dodge Dart also comes only with gasoline engines, so alternative-fuel shoppers looking for a hybrid, electric or diesel should check out rivals like the Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Jetta or Chevrolet Cruze.
KBB Expert Ratings
This year, the 2.4-liter Tigershark 4-cylinder engine is available in SXT, Limited and GT models as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. Additionally, the Convenience Group on SE models gets a $620 price cut, and Uconnect is updated for compatibility with android phones.
The 2015 Dodge Dart offers up a solid chassis and nicely sorted European-inspired suspension to deliver a confident and well-controlled ride, regardless of what model of this compact sedan you...
... choose. However, the Dart is also one of the heaviest cars in its class, mitigating the effect of its powerful array of engines when it comes to acceleration and passing. At best, power from the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in the SE is adequate, but the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine from the Aero is a bit more lively, thanks to better low-end torque, and gets better fuel economy. The 2.4-liter engine available on SXT, GT and Limited models helps move things along better, but it's still no match for cars like the Volkswagen Jetta GLI or Honda Civic Si. However, the Dodge Dart handles well, and when it comes to taking corners this Dodge is near the top of its compact class.
MULTIAIR ENGINE TECHNOLOGY
The 2015 Dodge Dart uses something called MultiAir technology. This individually controls the lift and timing of the engine's intake valves, improving both performance and fuel economy.
FLOATING-ISLAND DASH BEZEL
The panel surrounding the instrument cluster and Uconnect touch-screen system gets a red LED light pipe on its edge in Aero, Limited and GT models. It doesn't do anything but look cool at night when the lights are on, but man, does it ever look cool.
The 2015 Dodge Dart boasts an interior that's larger than you might expect. Spacious and well designed, there are plenty of soft-touch surfaces, and the controls are nicely laid out. The standard interior on SE and SXT models is nice enough, but we particularly like the visual pizazz of the floating-island dash, standard on Aero, Limited and GT models. We're particularly glad that the 8.4-inch Uconnect touch-screen system we've enjoyed in other Dodge vehicles lives here intact. The large center console bin and glove box can swallow all your knickknacks, and the rear seat is big enough for adults.
This may be the best-looking compact sedan in its class. The sleek and sexy lines uniquely blend European sensibilities with American brashness in a way that you wouldn't think possible. There's a lot of space between the front and rear wheels – known as wheelbase – and combined with the wide stance makes the Dart look ready to tackle the most aggressive mountain roads. The Dodge-signature cross-hair grille treatment and LED race-track taillights emphasize the sporty look. It's functional too, with all models boasting fuel efficiency-enhancing active grille shutters, which are optional on SE models.
The base 2015 Dodge Dart SE is surprisingly lightly equipped. You get power windows, a tilt/telescoping steering column and safety features like multiple airbags, including a driver's-side knee-bolster airbag. However, air conditioning, power outside mirrors and even power door locks are part of a $775 option package. The SE is also the only Dart model with the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Note that the mid-level SXT and higher models all come standard with these niceties, and the SXT, GT and Limited all get the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder as standard equipment; the Aero model gets a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine.
Instead of getting the Convenience Group on the Dart SE, we suggest just skipping the SE and going for the SXT, since you can order navigation, satellite radio and other conveniences that aren't available on SE models. If you're looking to save fuel, the Aero comes with an exclusive 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. The GT emphasizes sport with a sport-tuned suspension and 10-way power driver's seat, while the Dart Limited adds Nappa leather trim and chrome exterior treatments. The GT and Limited offer a Technology Group that features adaptive high-intensity-discharge headlights, rear park assist and blind-spot monitoring.
The base Dart SE comes with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 160 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque that struggles against the Dart's weight. Luckily, the rest of the Dart lineup get better engines. Aero models offer the same amount of horsepower but 184 lb-ft of torque from their 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. The SXT, GT and Limited come with the 184-horsepower 2.4-liter Tigershark engine. The engines all come connected to a transmission with six gears, either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. Note that Aero models get a unique automatic using a dual dry-clutch transmission (DDCT) system.
160 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/36 mpg (manual), 24/34 mpg (automatic)
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4
160 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/39 mpg (manual), 28/41 mpg (automatic)
184 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 mpg (manual), 21/30 mpg (automatic)
A base 2015 Dodge Dart SE starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $17,500 including destination charges, but honestly, you should just skip right over that model and head for the $19,500 Dart SXT, which not only offers more standard equipment, but avails you to options like navigation and satellite radio. Fuel-conscious Aero buyers and sporty-driving GT buyers will pay about $21,000 for their Dart models, while those looking for a compact-luxury sedan can choose the Limited for about $24,000. A fully loaded Dart will cost around $26,000, putting it on competitive footing with cars like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Kia Forte and Chevrolet Cruze. Be sure to check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid, and note that residual values will be about the same as its domestic rivals, but well below the Civic and Corolla.