2016 Dodge Dart Limited

REVIEW: 2016 Dodge Dart Limited – Affordable Car Charm, Luxury Car Features

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If you are shopping for a compact car under $30K with a long list of luxury car features, the 2016 Dodge Dart Limited hits the bull’s-eye.

The 2016 Dodge Dart Limited with the Customer Preffered Package includes many of the classic features that people associate with luxury cars along with some new things that you might not expect at a price point of just $26,280.  If you want to be pampered at well under $30K here’s what you can expect.

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Dodge Dart Limited Infotainment

We started with infotainment not because we think it is the most important part of a vehicle, but because it is one of the Dodge Dart Limited’s biggest strengths.  The Dart Limited trim is the top of five trim steps for the Dart and it includes the 8.4-inch U-Connect touch-screen system.  Our tester’s infotainment system may have been as good as any we have tested in any vehicle, at any price.  Yes, what I am saying is that the audio, nav, system setting functionality, app integration, and Bluetooth interface worked as well as anything I have tested including $140K BMWs, $90K Mercedes Benz Cars, and everything from Jaguar Land Rover, Lexus and other premium brands.  The key to success in this arena in this tester’s opinion is seamless functionality.  All GPS systems work rather well, but should you have to use a ridiculous rotary mouse or MMI to control it?  Dodge uses a simple touch-screen anyone can quickly put to use.  Many luxury brands force you to adapt to a mouse and it lessens the appeal.  We synched our phone instantly and were using this system to its fullest immediately with no learning curve.

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One thing that stood out as special was the ability to change settings like the time delay for the headlights to shut off after we leave the car.  You might like a “zero” setting.  With the Dart Limited, you are able to make the change quickly.  Similarly, you may like all the doors to open when you either touch the driver’s door handle or hit the open button on the fob.  Again, making the switch from the default is simple.  Many much more expensive vehicles do not allow this type of settings changes.  At under $30K this was one of the few we know of that let you take control and make the car work for you.

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Dodge Dart Limited Interior

The Dart Limited comes with a handsome interior with heated Nappa leather seating surfaces.  The dash is well done and has offset stitching accents.  We were pleased to have power seating as well, something that most crossovers don’t add until after the $30K mark.  Our tester had the Customer Preferred Package which includes the Technology Group.  This added rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, park assist, rain sensing wipers, HID headlights, and automatic high-beams.  Perhaps the most impressive feature though, was the heated steering wheel.  This is a feature that Audi offers only as an option on its $65K, 2017 Q7 flagship.  Finding it in a Dart Limited was almost shocking.  Again, the Dodge Dart Limited’s well thought out infotainment and display played a positive role.  The heated steering wheel and heated seats can be programed to turn on all the time when the car is started.  This is a great feature and one every car should have if the controls are not mechanical.

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Comfort is the name of the game in the Dart Limited.  The front seats are easy to love and the back seats adequate for teenagers.  Other segment vehicles like the Civic and Corolla seem to have more room inside, but not by much.  The trunk is generous as well and under the floor was a compact spare!  However, that spare costs $395 (boo!).  At least the Dart Limited offers a spare.  It seems like a reasonable option, but we question the cost.

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Dodge Dart Limited- Drivetrain and MPG

The Dodge Dart Limited’s 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine is an overachiever, making 184 hp.  However, while Honda and Toyota have moved on to continuously variable transmissions, Dodge is still using a 6-speed automatic.  This hurts the fuel economy.  The Dart Limited’s 27 MPG combined and 35 highway is low for this class.  The Corolla and Civic’s highway MPG starts with a “4” now, and in our recent test of a Civic EX with Honda Sensing we saw 40 MPG in combined driving.  In the Dart Limited, driving a similar route, we could not break 30 MPG.

The Dart Limited is not slow, it is quicker and more satisfying to drive than the Corolla, and it can spin its Yokohama tires easily in dry conditions, but the Civic’s new 1.5-Turbo is the new class leader for performance coupled with fuel economy.

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Dodge Dart Limited- The Ride

The 2016 Dodge Dart Limited is a fun car to be in.  Steering is direct, and the car never feels frumpy.  The suspension was more firm than we like, and bumps and rough roads made it hard to call the Dart Limited comfortable.  Brake feel is typical for the class.  On the highway, the Dart Limited was comfortable and quiet, but Dodge does not offer Lane Keeping Assist on this model, nor does it offer adaptive cruise control.  The Civic, Mazda3, and Subaru Impreza do.

Dodge Dart Limited Safety

Compact sedans are family cars, and that means safety is paramount.  The Dart Limited lags the pack here.  The 2016 model was tested by IIHS and only scored Acceptable on the small frontal overlap crash test.  The Dart Limited also does not offer forward collision mitigation of any type.  The rest of the pack now has the Top Safety Pick Plus designation, which the Dart Limited cannot earn.

Conclusion

The 2016 Dodge Dart Limited sets itself apart by offering luxury and technology features that one would not expect as such a low price point.  I am frequently told by friends and family that they don’t care about forward collision prevention, don’t want Lane Keep Assist, and prefer a geared transmission.  Their opinions and preferences are just as valid as mine.  To them, I say “The Dodge Dart Limited is the perfect car.”

2016 Dodge Dart Limited

Base Price: $23,795

Customer Preferred Package 2BL $1,095

Compact Spare (worth every penny) $395

Price As Tested: $26,280 (including $995 destination charge)

Like

– Heated Steering Wheel

– Infotainment Done Perfectly

– Ability to Change Vehicle Settings (Door Locks, Lighting, etc.)

Dislikes

– Fuel economy

– Lack of Forward Collision Prevention

 

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John Goreham

John Goreham