By Patrick Rall
The news came last week that the great minds at Consumer Reports decided not to add the 2013 Dodge Dart to the “recommended” list of new compact sedans. Their press release announcing their findings did mention that the Dart had a quiet cabin, promising handling and good ride quality but they were not happy with the engine options at the time of testing.
Their reasoning behind not recommending the 2013 Dodge Dart was that the 2.0L Tigershark base model engine was under powered while the turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir engine was “raspy” and it had drivability issues when mated to the 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
First of all, complaining about the 2.0L Tigershark 4-cylinder engine is puzzling when you consider that with 160 horsepower and 148lb-ft of torque – this entry level engine has more horsepower than either of the engines offered in the Chevrolet Cruze and the same level of torque as the Cruze’s high end engine.When compared
to the Ford Focus, the 2.0L base engine offers identical horsepower and slightly more torque than the single 4-cylinder engine used in the popular Ford compact. Keep in mind, this is the Dart’s least powerful engine compared to the best from Ford and Chevy. Luckily, if the slight advantages in power and/or torque arent enough for prospective buyers – there is also the turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir engine that is offered across the Dart lineup.
Unfortunately, the old fogies at Consumer Reports also didn’t like that engine – stating that there were drivability issues with the 1.4L MultiAir engine when mated to the dual clutch transmission. The testers also claimed that the exhaust note of the turbocharged Dart engine was “raspy”. While this might come as a surprise to the minivan driving soccer moms and karate dads at CR, many consumers appreciate an exhaust note in a sporty compact sedan with a little personality. Having driven the new Dart Turbo with both the standard manual and optional dual clutch gear box – I find their results to be foolish at best. The Dart Turbo exhaust has a more noticeable note than other cars in the class but it is mild compared to many sporty models on sale in the US. Also, I found the Dart’s dual clutch transmission to be one of the more refined high tech automatic transmissions on the market and in the long run – it is hard to find any real drivability issues with this new self shifting transmission.
Luckily, as the relevancy of the per-pay-view Consumer Reports has faded, there is likely little real impact on the 2013 Dodge Dart from their findings. The Dart offers more power than the rest of the cars in the class (shy of the Ford Focus ST) while also offering better fuel economy than all of the bestsellers in the segment…and that is without considering the upcoming Dart R/T with the 2.4L Tigershark engine with 184hp and 171lb-ft of torque or the 41mpg Dart.
Oh, there is also the upcoming Dart SRT4 for those who are really that worried about having more punch – but it will probably have raspy exhaust as well so the old guys at Consumer Reports may not like that one either.