Test Drive: The 2013 Dodge Dart Limited Turbo is Brilliance Atop a Foundation of Mediocrity

Test Drive: The 2013 Dodge Dart Limited Turbo is Brilliance Atop a Foundation of Mediocrity

2013 Dodge Dart Limited Turbo
Power: 160 hp
Torque: 184 lb-ft
0-60: 8.2 seconds
Fuel Economy: 27/37 mpg
Price as Tested: $26,265

A new pair of kicks, be they Nikes or John Lobbs, inspires a very specific feeling. It's because shoes worth wearing are usually pretty damn expensive, and they make some strong style statements about the person wearing them. We all know that lots of people draw conclusions based on footwear, so it's worth paying attention to. 

At the most basic level, your new footwear makes you feel good about yourself. You immediately want to lace them up and find an excuse to go just about anywhere, simply because you're looking for an excuse to wear them. That vain part of you is hoping that somebody, preferably of the opposite sex, will approach you and compliment you out of the blue, even though you tell yourself weren't expecting or hoping for that. Just keep deluding yourself, your ID doesn't care one way or the other. This is why we buy shoes for their aesthetics and not just their function. Otherwise we'd all be rocking Dr. Scholl's and Ozark trail mandals. That shit is practical, and it's cheap, but ... hell no.

There is, sadly, a dark side to new kick euphoria, and that is actually walking. New shoes are never terribly comfortable, and we usually walk a little funny because we want to keep them in good condition. Sure, we buy new shoes, and we love them, but the one thing they're actually supposed to be used for—walking—kinda sucks for a while.

The 2013 Dodge Dart Limited Turbo is a lot like new shoes in that it made me feel really good. The design was incredibly thoughtful, from the exterior lights that helped avoid dousing those John Lobbs in slush to the little bits of velvety applique on the backs of the seat belt buckles that prevent them from scratching the arm-rest. Every single time I got in that car I found another tiny little feature to appreciate. It managed to be a reasonably priced compact that doesn't just blend in with all the other reasonably priced cars I've driven. That's good.

 

Better still were the seats ...They're so good I've told my local junkyard to hold them should somebody wreck their Dart, so that I can rip them out and put them in my Honda Fit.

 

Better still were the the seats. The optional leather seats are, simply put, some of the most comfortable I've ever sat in. They're so good I've told my local junkyard to hold them should somebody wreck their Dart, so that I can rip them out and put them in my Honda Fit. I want a third for playing racing games in, and a fourth for converting into an office chair. This isn't usual automotive journalist's hyperbole either; I really do want four black leather Dodge Dart seats, as they are works of ergonomic art.

The complaint I expected to make about this car is even being remedied. At the moment, the Dart can only be had as a sedan, and a small one at that, which means that there's very little cargo room. However, I've been informed that I should "stay tuned" regarding a hatch. The average American gets a sedan, us journalists get infinitely more useful hatchbacks, and everybody is happy.

The real problem with the Dart is that the one thing, as a car, it needs to be able to do well (e.g. driving), it's honestly not that good at. There's too much body roll, the dual-clutch auto in the tester (if only I'd had a manual) was lethargic, clunky, and slow, and the engine always had to give good consideration to acceleration before actually doing it, even in the significantly faster turbo engine. The overall acceleration was passable, with a 0-60 time of 8.2 seconds, but the 0-10 was terrible. Lest you think I'm being overly pedantic, I do think this is genuinely important. 0-10 is what you need when you tun left through a hole in traffic, 0-10 is what's needed to get out of a parking lot and onto the road, and 0-10 is what makes a car feel either quick or sluggish at the lights. It's frustrating to be thinking "go" and be pressing the throttle as far as it will go while the car seems to be thinking "are you sure?" It's like riding a grandmother (head out of the gutter, please), and we're not into that.

Hopefully the Dart GT, with its larger and more powerful 2.4L engine and improved transmission options will remedy this in the same way the hatch will remedy my sedan complaints. If so, it will probably be my next car, because those seats are as good as simultaneous sex and bacon flavored vodka (that was hyperbole).

 

PS: Dear Dodge programmers, my wife's cold back and buttocks would love it if the passenger side heated seat could be set to warm up upon remote start.

Related: 6 Things You'd Never Expect From the $20,000 Dodge Dart

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Tags: dodge, dodge-dart, test-drive, alfa-romeo-giulietta
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