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When the Dodge Dart first hit the market for the 2013 model year, it represented something never before seen in Chrysler's product portfolio: a desirable compact car. But despite its thoughtful tech features and well-finished cabin, the Dart still trails its more seasoned rivals in a few key areas.

Though our test unit's optional 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine looks like the real deal on paper (184 horsepower/171 lb-ft), its narrow torque curve and lethargic transmission logic resulted in an excessive amount of full-throttle driving. By the same token, the Dart's abrupt throttle tip-in makes city driving a herky-jerky affair. Adding insult to injury is that fact that our Dart GT returned the poorest fuel economy in our test group by roughly three mpg.

2015 Dodge Dart at a Glance

2015 Dodge Dart Compact Car Graph

On a brighter note, the Dart earned high marks for its upscale interior, quiet highway ride, and easy-to-use controls. We found the front seats to be quite comfortable as well, offering sufficient lumbar support and more substantial side bolstering than most competitors. The rear quarters, however, are a different story. Legroom and headroom ranked near the bottom of the bunch, while the trunk's restrictive pass-through made it difficult to stow bulky items.

On the tech front, the Dart's optional 7-inch digital gauge cluster had most of us singing its praises on account of a feature-rich yet intuitive interface and customizable layout. Much was the same story when it came to the optional Uconnect infotainment system and its 8.4-inch touchscreen, uncluttered menus, and navigation by Garmin. Then again, an upgrade to the latest version of Uconnect would be a welcome improvement, as the Dart currently lacks smartphone app-integration, advanced voice recognition software, and the now-ubiquitous Bluetooth specification that displays current track info on the touchscreen when streaming music wirelessly.

Checking in at roughly $26,500, our 2015 Dodge Dart GT was one of priciest members in our test. Of course, it came loaded with high-end accouterments like HID headlights, navigation, automatic high beam control, rear parking sensors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Of course, Chrysler's uneven history of reliability puts a sizable damper on residual values, and that unfavorable reputation won't vanish anytime soon. We observed these types of blatant quality shortcomings first hand during this year's comparison test, where the Dart managed to lose a rear door handle as well as a large piece of weather stripping around the trunk.

Here's how the 2015 Dodge Dart stacks up against the others:

Dodge Dart vs. Ford Focus

Both models lean towards the sportier side of the small car spectrum, but the Focus backs up its athletic appearance with direct steering, exceptional ride compliance, and a powerful-yet-efficient engine, while the Dart simply looks the part.

Dodge Dart vs. Honda Civic

Unless you have an aversion to class-leading residual values, rock solid reliability, excellent ride comfort, and trouble-free drivability, the Dodge Dart is no match for the vaunted Honda Civic.

Dodge Dart vs. Mazda Mazda3

The Mazda3 is a sporty compact car done right. Striking an exceptional balance between dynamism and day-to-day comfort, the Mazda3 reigns supreme over the Dodge Dart. That the Mazda3 also offers the least-distracting infotainment system in the segment doesn't hurt, either.

Dodge Dart vs. Subaru Impreza

As the only vehicle in our test to include - or even offer - all-wheel-drive, the Subaru Impreza is the obvious choice for budget-minded snow-belters. While its cabin is considerably noisier than that of the Dart, the Impreza impressed thanks to its well-sorted infotainment, completely fold-flat rear seats, and available 5-door hatchback design.

Dodge Dart vs. Toyota Corolla

As surprising as it may seem, the Dart bests the Corolla in a number of categories, including cabin noise isolation, materials quality, and available feature content. Then again, the Dart is no match for the Corolla when it comes to resale value and long-term dependability.

Dodge Dart vs. Volkswagen Jetta

With the interior volume of a midsize car and a sub-$17,000 starting price, the VW Jetta offers a lot of space for the money. And when you factor in its European driving character and well-thought-out interior, the VW Jetta is a uniquely appealing "compact" sedan.

More Compact Cars

Build and price your own 2015 Dodge Dart, read our full review or check out our Compact Car Buyer's Guide to see more options in the segment.

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