By Patrick Rall
The Chrysler Group made a surprising announcement earlier this week, making the 2.4L Tigershark engine that is currently only offered in the Dodge Dart GT that standard engine for the lower priced Dart SXT and Limited trimlines in addition to the performance minded GT package. The 2.0L Tigershark engine remains the standard engine for the entry level Dart SE while the 1.4L turbocharged engine remains the standard engine for the Dart Aero. Even more surprisingly is that none of the 2014 Dodge Dart trimlines come with any optional engines so those engines mentioned above are the only available engines for those trimlines.
This comes as a confusing move as the 2.4L Tigershark engine is the most powerful in the modern Dodge Dart lineup, which is why it was previously reserved for the performance minded Dart GT. With 184 horsepower and 171lb-ft of torque, the 2.4L mill provides considerably more power than the 1.4L Fiat turbo motor that has been the most popular engine choice for the 2013 Dart in the SXT, Rallye and Limited trimlines. This means that the 2014 Dart in those mid and premium trimlines will have an advantage in power over the rest of the cars in the segment but it does so at the cost of fuel economy.
The 2.4L Tigershark engine offers only 23 miles per gallon around town and 33mpg on the open road while the Dodge Dart with the 1.4L turbo motor is able to hit 40 miles per gallon on the highway in non-Aero models and 41mpg in the continuing Aero package. Mind you, the folks who are concerned with fuel economy can still opt for the Aero package with the turbo motor but for most of the buyers who take home a 2014 Dart in the SXT, Limited or GT trimlines – they will come with a bunch more power and lesser fuel economy figures.
Having had the pleasure of every 2013 Dodge Dart trimline including the Mopar 13 and the new Dart GT, I am pretty surprised to hear that the 2014 lineup will rely so heavily on the 2.4L engine. The 2.4L mill provides an awesome driving experience for the Dart GT but with the Dart SXT and Limited accounting for the vast majority of units sold in 2013, the company has effectively made their most popular trimlines less efficient than the outgoing models. The 1.4L turbo engine can be a bit laggy but it has great torque and even greater fuel economy capabilities so it seemed like a natural choice for the volume models. I mean, if you can offer an engine that is the most efficient in the lineup AND a bunch of fun to drive – why not go with it?
In any case, the Chrysler Group is showing that they are more concerned with power in the 2014 Dodge Dart than they are fuel economy and for those consumers who insist on getting 40+ miles per gallon, the Aero package will still come with the most efficient engine available.