2014 Dodge Dart

I first met the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart at the launch in 2012. It impressed me with its technology, design, and fuel economy. With one month completed on a three-month loan of the 2014 Dodge Dart, my initial impression has been confirmed, plus, it’s a fun little car and a good value.

When it was first introduced, the Dart was configurable in 100,000 possible ways. Not surprisingly, the features have been bundled among five models, SE, SXT, Aero, Limited and GT for 2014. I’m driving the Limited.

The first Chrysler vehicle to share a platform with its European siblings, the Dart also grows the manufacturer’s fuel-efficient lineup. All Limited models are powered by a peppy 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 184 horsepower. The test model comes equipped with the six-speed automatic but a six-speed manual is the standard transmission on every trim level but the Limited, which is rare—most standard transmissions are relegated to base models only.

The EPA estimated fuel economy is 23 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 35 mpg on the highway for the 2.4-liter. I’m averaging 26 mpg in the city and the best mileage so far on the highway has been 33 mpg. The best fuel economy on any Dart comes from the Aero model, powered by 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo—it should get 41 mpg on the highway. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder powers the base model.

While I like the fuel economy, it has been a challenge to stretch $20 of gas beyond four days before heading back to the pump.

The Dart is styled with the unmistakable Dodge split crosshair grille and racetrack taillamps with 152 indirect glow LEDs. I’ve been approached more than once in grocery store parking lots with questions and compliments about it.

Pricing on the base model, or Dart SE, starts at $15,995. With an MSRP of $24,985, the Dart Limited that I’m driving packs a lot of features into that cost, like a sunroof, leather seats in an elegant black and white combination, a heated steering wheel as well as front seats, a digital configurable instrument panel, and an eight-inch touch screen above the center stack with navigation that has been extremely easy and intuitive to use. I could use at least six more presets for the XM stations, however. But the best news is that you can get a CD player, it’s standard on all trim levels but located in the center console on the Limited to make room for the eight-inch display screen.

Optional equipment includes the Customer Preferred Package  ($995) with safety and convenience features, like a blind spot monitor, and rear back-up camera (how did we parallel park without them?).

I’ll be dodging and darting through town in the 2014 Dart Limited into September.

Stay tuned for more impressions.