By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
Dodge’s 2016 Dart compact sedan brings European driving character to a highly stylized American 4-door loaded with features. With its Alfa Romeo roots, the Dart is easily the equal of such fun-to-drive rivals as the Mazda3 and Ford Focus. Although its rear seat is not as roomy as in some larger compacts (think Honda Civic), the Dart is still a competent compact. With three engine options, the Dart offers more choice than the Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sentra, and thanks to numerous personalization options, it’s easy to build a Dart that stands apart from these competitors. Be it the luxurious Limited, Sporty GT or miserly Aero, the Dart offers something for everyone in a package that is fuel-efficient, safe and fun.
If you’re not interested in a cookie-cutter compact, the 2016 Dodge Dart should be first on your list. With a wide range of models, colors, transmission and engine choices, as well as optional equipment, it’s easy to create a personalized car unique to your personality.
KBB Expert Ratings
Changes for the 2016 Dodge Dart compact sedan are mostly cosmetic. The SXT trim offers a new Sport Appearance Package, while the entry SE trim gets a sporty Rallye Appearance Group option. Hyper Black 18-inch wheels are now standard on the GT, which can now be equipped with the Blacktop Package.
The 2016 Dodge Dart compact sedan is equipped with a solid chassis and a nimble European-inspired suspension. The combination delivers a car that is both confident on straightaways and controlled...
... in the turns, regardless of trim level. However, due to its rather hefty weight, acceleration for passing and merging is only adequate, especially with the smaller 2.0-liter engine. The Aero’s turbocharged 1.4-liter unit feels livelier and gets better mileage than the base engine, but even it struggles at higher speeds. The best choice for the Dart is the optional 2.4-liter found on the SXT, Limited and GT trim. Even when so equipped, the Dart is no match for cars like the Honda Civic Si and Mazda3. On a twisty back road, however, we’d take the Dart over a Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra any day of the week.
MULTIAIR ENGINE TECHNOLOGY
The Dodge Dart for 2016 employs MultiAir technology that individually controls the timing and lift for the intake valves. This design maximizes both fuel economy and performance.
FLOATING-ISLAND DASH BEZEL
On Aero, Limited and GT trims, glowing red-light piping surrounds the instrument cluster and Uconnect touch screen, adding another little bit of distinctiveness to the Dart’s already fashionable interior.
The 2016 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 racetrack taillights emphasize the 2016 Dart sedan’s sporty look. It's functional too, with all models boasting fuel efficiency-enhancing active grille shutters, which are optional on SE models.
The base 2016 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 optional. 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 models in 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.
2.0-liter inline-4 (SE)
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 (Aero)
160 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/41 mpg (manual), 28/40 mpg (automatic)
2.4-liter inline-4 (SXT, Limited, GT)
184 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 mpg (GT, manual), 22/35 mpg (Limited/SXT, manual), 22/31 mpg (GT, automatic), 23/35 mpg (Limited/SXT, automatic)
A base 2016 Dodge Dart SE starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $17,700 including destination charges, but honestly, you should just skip right over that model and head for the $20,000 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 $21,500 and $23,000, respectively for their Dart models, while those looking for a compact-luxury sedan can choose the Limited for just under $25,000. A fully loaded Dart will cost around $27,000, 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.