By Patrick Rall
The new Dodge Dart is a great car with a sharp, sporty exterior, a super high tech interior with tons of space for a compact sedan and drivetrains that help to make the Dart one of the most fuel friendly cars in the US market. Unfortunately, those drivetrains have failed to inspire many critics from both the media and the consumer market alike as the 2.0L engine is a bit on the soft side, the 1.4L turbo has been accused of being laggy (I don’t agree with this point having driven a bunch of new Darts) and the 2.4L Tigershark mill has only been offered on the top of the line GT performance package. Dodge has announced that the 2.4L from the Dart GT will be the standard engine for all but the base Dart SE (which still comes with the 2.0L Tigershark) and the Dart Aero (which still comes with the 1.4L MultiAir turbo). Unfortunately, with only 184 horsepower and 171lb-ft of torque, the Dart is still criticized for being underpowered for the size of the car.
The good news to address this problem comes from the folks at Allpar who have spoken with unnamed sources within Chrysler who have stated that the company is playing around with fitting one of the Pentastar V6 engines into the future Dart. Should the company use the same 3.6L Pentastar that is offered in the larger Dodge Avenger, the Dart would easily be the most powerful model in the class with 283 horsepower but how would that impact fuel economy? Well, compared to the 2.4L Tigershark that powers the Dart GT, the 3.6L Pentastar could offer very similar fuel economy. If we look at the fact that the 3.6L V6 in the much larger Dodge Charger offers 19mpg on the highway and 31 on the highway, it is only slightly less efficient than the much less powerful 2.4L Tigershark that offers 23 and 33. The Charger is substantially larger and heavier than the Dart so if you were to strip the Charger down to the curb weight of the Dart, there is a very good chance that the Pentastar could offer even better fuel economy along with the added power.
We should point out that the Chrysler Group engineers are only toying with the idea of installing a Pentastar V6 in the Dodge Dart and having spoken with guys who work in the Chrysler engine lab, it is not unusual for the company to plug random engines into different vehicles just to see what would happen. Because of that, there is a chance that we might not ever see a V6 powered Dodge Dart but with the criticism over the Dart’s lack of power and the great fuel economy of the Pentastar V6 line – a V6 powered Dart seems like a very real possibility in the near future.