2014 Dodge Dart 2.4 MultiAir Limited
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Wed, May 7, 2014
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Harvey Schwartz
After the brand’s seven-year absence in the segment, the Dodge Dart compact sedan was re-introduced in model year 2013. It was like dropping meat into a shark tank, with so many well-known compact sedans already vying for sales leadership—primarily the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze, amongst many other compact vehicles. It was a good gamble, as Dart sales topped over 80,000 sales. That’s not bad, considering the competition.
After testing the new, more powerful 2014 Dart Limited, I’d say the buyers of the other car brands must have missed their chance at test driving the all-new Dart. The Dart was named the leading compact car in total quality in Strategic Vision’s Total Quality Index. Also, the Dart Limited redefines performance with an agile, fun-to-drive experience, delivering highway fuel economy as much as 41 mpg (EPA rating 23 city/35 highway), has segment leading safety features, easy-to-use technology and an interior that is so comfortable, innovative and luxurious that no other compact sedan can match.
With the 184 horsepower 2.4 liter Tigershark MultiAir2 inline four cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic with AutoStick sequential shifting, the Dart accelerates with the best of the compact sedans. Among the class-exclusive innovations are 10-standard airbags, ‘racetrack’ LED tail lamps, HID headlamp’s, an 8.4 inch touchscreen and a 7 inch thin-film transistor (TFT ) reconfigurable instrument cluster. But wait, there’s more.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based architecture allowed designers to build an exterior with great proportions. Dynamic lines and curves are seen from every angle with a body-in, wheels-out stance and coupe-like silhouette with steeply raked windshield A-pillars, thin, aero-styled power-remote/heated/turn-signal repeater sideview mirrors, pinched windows that are triple sealed for outside noise reduction, chrome pull-out door handles, flared fenders and lower side extensions.
Up front is the familiar Dodge split crosshair chrome grille that floats in the front fascia. HID headlamp clusters are flush with the sides, and lower round projector fog lamps feature chrome accent spears below. The front was designed for smooth airflow around, above and below the car. The lower radiator close-out panel is positioned below the front fascia. This not only contributes to the Dart’s lower front-end appearance, but also reduces drag while still allowing for an eight-inch curb clearance.
The Dart is the first Dodge to use an active grille shutter system. The system automatically stops airflow through the lower intake at highway speeds when less engine cooling is required and aerodynamic drag is most significant. When closed, the shutter system enhances aerodynamic performance by redirecting airflow around the front end and down the sides, rather than through it. The active grille shutter system will open or close automatically based upon engine coolant temperature and vehicle speed. Furthermore, the front spoiler, front/rear diffusers and underbody cladding all combine to enhance straight-line stability and cornering while also blocking road noise from entering the cabin.
The 2014 model Dart Limited receives the more powerful 2.4 liter SOHC, 16-valve all-aluminum, in-line four-cylinder MultiAir2 engine that generates 184 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 171 pound-feet of torque at 4,800rpm. MultiAir technology delivers optimum combustion at any speed under all driving conditions by allowing direct and dynamic control of air intake and combustion. The result is up to a 15 percent increase in low engine rpm torque and a 7.5 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. This engine is mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with AutoStick sequential shifting for more spirited driving. With the AutoStick, the Dart Limited reaches 60 mph from a standstill in 6.9 seconds.
The fun-to-drive and dynamic handling performance of the Dart Limited comes from its fully independent suspension. Up front is a MacPherson strut setup with coil springs, gas-charged shocks and stabilizer bar that was specifically tuned to minimize camber loss, resulting in more response steering and handling characteristics, improved ride quality and a reduction in road noise. The rear multi-link setup features coil springs, gas-charged shocks and a link-type stabilizer bar. The front/rear suspension enables European handling capability for drivers who enjoy leaning into corners with a smooth ride at speed on the highway.
The electric, dual pinion rack and pinion steering system is spot on with quick and precise response to my inputs. Just a little tug on the steering wheel moved my direction. On-center and feel for the road is excellent. Dodge engineers have dialed in superb driving dynamics whether driving slow or at high speed on the road. It remained flat when traveling through sharp curves and didn’t even move left or right when I took my hands off the steering wheel straight-ahead at speed on the highway.
Brakes are large and strong. Up front are 12-inch vented discs clamped with large 60mm single-piston calipers and 10.5-inch solid discs clamped with 38mm single-piston calipers. Braking is further enhanced with standard ABS, BA, EBD, Electronic Stability Control and all-speed Traction Control to help me maintain my desired direction when braking hard or when braking on slick or wet road surfaces. The Dodge Dart Limited rides on stunning 17X7.5 inch satin silver painted cast aluminum wheels wrapped with sticky Kumho 225/45R17 inch Solus KH25 low-profile high-performance tires.
Inside, the Dodge designers focused their attention on creating a blend of craftsmanship, technology, and hand-sculpted shapes. The interior appears to be crafted with materials and technology typically found in more expensive vehicle segments. Starting with modern Dodge DNA and through the use of innovative ambient interior lighting, soft-touch materials and high-tech features, the Dart is loaded with cool amenities and unexpected delights for both me and my passengers.
The Dart’s driver-centric layout puts all controls within easy reach. Customizable displays and comfort-tuned, deeply cut front bucket seats are trimmed in Nappa leather and feature eight-way power adjustments including power lumbar support for the driver and four-way manual adjustment including height-adjustment for the front seat passenger. Packaged in the footprint of a compact car, the Dart Limited features the interior spaciousness of a mid-size sedan. The high-tech centerpiece of the Dart Limited is the class-exclusive floating island bezel which houses the segment-exclusive seven-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LED customizable gauge cluster display with a leather top and light pipe surround that also houses the class-exclusive U-connect Touch 8.4 inch touchscreen Media Center.
The beefy, leather-wrapped/tilt/telescopic steering wheel feels perfect in my hands and features buttons for the audio system, Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone and cruise control. A thoughtful storage option throughout fits today’s technology. The glove box easily conceals a stowed iPad; the center console with dual cupholders and storage box with padded armrest features auxiliary jacks to plug in a wide variety of electronic devices and thoughtful, inventive storage solutions, such as a center console side pockets are perfect for storing mobile phones, receipts, or pens and paper. There are also storage slots in each door. Even the trunk floor conceals storage slots.
Besides soft-to-the-touch dashboard and door trim materials, there’s also an abundance of aluminum around the side air-vents inside door handle and shifter bezel as well as chrome around the large dials, air-vent directional and handbrake tip. Standard features not mentioned above in the 2014 Dodge Dart Limited include grab handles above each door, dual map lights, dual lighted vanity mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Sirius Satellite radio, Sirius Travel Link, Sirius Traffic and Weather link, Garmin GPS navigation with Uconnect Voice Command, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, illuminated instrument panel surround, automatic headlamps, rear pull-down center armrest and storage box, remote fuel filler door, remote trunk release, Keyless Enter ‘n Go with push-button start/stop, power windows with both front windows express up/down and power door locks, 2-12-volt power plugs, USB connective, one-touch electric sunroof, ParkView rear back-up camera, map pockets behind the front seats, center pass-thru and front/rear floor mats.
The standard safety features go well beyond the competition with 10-standard airbags including dual front knee airbags, advanced multi-stage front airbags, supplemental front seat-mounted side airbags, supplemental side-curtain airbags front and rear airbags, supplemental rear seat side airbags, LATCH system for child seats, 5-3-point safety belts with front pretensioners/load limiters, hill-start assist, electronic roll mitigation, Trailer-sway control, Rainy Brake Support, Ready Alert Braking, Brake-lick differential, remote start, front seat reactive headrests, tire pressure monitoring, front/rear crumple zones and steel beams in each door.
Options included in our test 2014 Dodge Dart 2.4 liter MultiAir2 Limited included an intrusion alarm, ParkSense Rear Park Assist system, Blind Spot and Rear Cross Traffic Detection, automatic high-beam headlamp control, rain-sensing wipers/washers, HID headlamps and 17X7.5 inch aluminum wheels.
For a price just under $25,000.00, consumers will find a compact sport sedan with innovations in aerodynamics, performance, interior and safety that is virtually unmatched by the competition.
© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz
In dartboard lingo, this is a Rod Sterling. Dodge is in the “zone” with the new Dart.
For more information about Dodge products, go to www.dodge.com
Name of vehicle:
2014 Dodge Dart 2.4 MultiAir Limited
$16,495 (SE, base)
$24,385 (Limited, as tested)
EPA fuel economy rating:
23 city/35 highway miles per gallon
2.4 liter MultiAir 16-valve SOHC four-in-line with variable valve timing
184 at 6250 rpm
171 pound-feet at 4800 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with AutoStick sequential shifting capability Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Suspension: Four-wheel independent suspension, with front MacPherson struts and rear multi-links, and front and rear stabilizer bars. Brakes: 12-inch vented discs up front clamped with large 60mm single-piston calipers and 10.5-inch solid discs clamped with 38mm single-piston calipers. Standard ABS, BA, EBD, Electronic Stability Control and all-speed Traction Control. Dimensions Total length: 183.9 inches Total width: 72 inches Total height: 57.7 inches Curb weight: 3,348 pounds