$11,113 - $15,653

2016 Dodge Dart Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Dodge Dart was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 8.0

With its base four-cylinder engine, reviewers say the 2016 Dodge Dart feels underpowered at highway speeds. They agree that for peppy acceleration, you will need to upgrade to the larger optional four-cylinder engine. Most auto writers praise the Dart's nimble handling, sharp steering and comfortable ride, noting that it's one of the more fun-to-drive cars in the class.

  • "With its Alfa Romeo roots, the Dart is easily the equal of such fun-to-drive rivals as the Mazda3 and Ford Focus." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Unlike most compact cars, the Dodge Dart feels like it was built by people who love to drive, demonstrating ride and handling characteristics that are more befitting of a sport sedan." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "… the Dart lacks an overall refinement that its main rivals possess and stumbles in areas that are of importance to many buyers in this segment. First of all, its powertrain lineup misses the mark." -- Edmunds (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Dodge Dart has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower. A turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower and a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 184 horsepower are optional. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional. According to the EPA, the base Dart earns 25/36 mpg city/highway, which is average for the class. Models with the turbocharged engine get up to 27/37 mpg, while the Dart Aero earns 28/41 mpg city/highway, which are the best estimates in the lineup.

Some critics think the base Dart has decent low-speed acceleration, but most complain that it feels sluggish at higher speeds and when passing and merging on the highway. Most reviewers prefer the 2.4-liter engine, which they agree provides peppier acceleration. Still, they say that none of the engines in the lineup feel quite as strong as those offered by rivals like the Honda Civic Si and Mazda3. Some reviewers say the available 1.4-liter turbocharged engine is quick to respond.

  • "However, due to its rather hefty weight, acceleration for passing and merging is only adequate, especially with the smaller 2.0-liter engine. The Aero's turbocharged 1.4-liter unit feels livelier and gets better mileage than the base engine, but even it struggles at higher speeds. The best choice for the Dart is the optional 2.4-liter found on the SXT, Limited and GT trim. Even when so equipped, the Dart is no match for cars like the Honda Civic Si and Mazda3." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The best pick is the 2.4-liter engine. You don't get optimal fuel economy with it, but it nevertheless feels considerably more lively in real-world driving situations, with highway merging and passing maneuvers being significantly easier." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "The 2.0-liter engine revs smoothly throughout its range and moves the Dart smartly whether equipped with the six-speed manual or the six-speed automatic transmission. Power, not surprisingly, tapers off at higher speeds, and at 60 mph there's little left for a last-minute pass around slower-moving traffic. You have to plan your move with care." -- Cars.com (2013)
  • "The 1.4-liter turbo MultiAir is surprisingly responsive and happy to rev. The whole car feels light on its feet; the controls are easy and as a package they work in complete harmony." -- Road and Track (2013)

Handling and Braking

According to test drivers, the 2016 Dart has surprisingly agile handling for a compact car and compares favorably to sporty rivals like the Mazda3. They note the Dart's European-influenced driving dynamics, sharp steering and say its ride is comfortable in all trims. Still, a few wish its steering provided more feedback.

  • "The 2016 Dodge Dart compact sedan is equipped with a solid chassis and a nimble European-inspired suspension. The combination delivers a car that is both confident on straightaways and controlled in the turns, regardless of trim level." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ride is never harsh, but it tends toward Euro-firm, and the Dart tackles corners with verve, reminding us of the nimble Mazda3." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "The 2015 Dodge Dart has responsive handling and well-weighted steering, and overall, it goes around turns with confidence. Almost all trim levels also offer a comfortable ride, making it a good candidate for road trips." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "The Focus provides a better sense of what's happening at the tires than the Dart, whose steering has limited feel and less immediate turn-in. On the highway, the Dart settles nicely and tracks confidently without asking you to make constant steering corrections." -- Cars.com (2013)

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