Economical cars like the 2016 Dodge Dart are often bought for simple point A to point B, i.e., work, school, home, etc… But how do they hold up on a long road trip?
In the case of the Dart, it did surprisingly well.
Throughout the year, I drive a large variety of vehicles, and the key items separating vehicles are often simply driver comfort and fatigue. These are especially important items during long road trips. Long road trips aren’t always something automotive journalists do with press loans, yet I was able to do just that in a 2016 Dodge Dart SXT.
Starting from Western Nebraska, I traveled 700+ miles round trip through Sturgis, South Dakota and up to a little town called Bison, South Dakota. This trip had me behind the wheel for more than 12 hours and I split the trip into two days.
This November trip also provided plenty of winter-driving conditions, with South Dakota experiencing an early mix of cold, ice and windy conditions in the morning with cold gusty winds with dry pavement in the afternoon.
With this much time on the road and the winter-driving conditions, many economical vehicles would have put an additional strain on the driver keeping them on the road and tiring the driver unnecessarily. But this Dodge Dart did an exceptional job of handling wind gusts in the 30 MPH+ range, the below zero temps and the icy conditions.
It also kept my attention with its sharp styling, both inside and out. In a variety of situations like at the gas station or at a restaurant, it was easy to distinguish the Dart from other cars, thanks to its good looks.
On the road, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (rated at 184 horsepower) did well with managing the wintry conditions. Mated to a 6-speed transmission, the powertrain was smooth, and I never experienced it hunting for gears. It also kept me away from the gas station with its EPA-rated 23/35/27 city/highway/combined MPG.
The Dart is an easy drive with plenty of room, good visibility and easy-to-reach buttons. While it is indeed a small car, I never felt it and in fact, the Dart was quite comfortable.
Speaking of comfort, one of the challenges for most cars on long-road trips are the seats. I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort found with these seats. I had assumed an entry-level, economical car would have poor seats, as this would be one area to cut costs. It was not the case for me and I felt I could have driven much longer without issue.
Besides the seats, the radio and infotainment system plays a big role on road trips, and the Dart’s Uconnect system worked remarkably well. The system worked flawlessly through the hilly area of west South Dakota, with great sounds from both the satellite radio and Bluetooth via my iPhone.
While the Dart performed well on this trip, it wasn’t exactly a sporty car by any means. It doesn’t corner exceptionally well, nor is its initial acceleration as strong as, say, a Honda Civic or Ford Focus.
The small-car market is full of stiff competition, and the Dodge Dart certainly has its hands full getting consumer’s attention. With its comfortable seats, excellent Uconnect system and eye-catching styling, the Dart does have its appeal.
Model: 2016 Dodge Dart SXT
Engine: 2.4-liter Four-Cylinder
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy: 23/35/27 City/Highway/Combined
- 8.4” Uconnect Tough Screen Group (Parkview rear back-up, remote USB port, iPod control, illuminated instrument panel, glove box lamp) – $595
- 6-speed automatic transmission w/AutoStick – $1,250
- Radio 8.4” Navigation – $595
- SiriusXM 1-year subscription – $195
- Compact space tire – $395
Price As Tested: $23,225 with $995 destination charge
- Seat Comfort
- Around town performance
- Cornering ability