Test Drive: 2014 Dodge Dart videos car test drives dodge
Test Drive: 2014 Dodge Dart videos car test drives dodge
2014 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Justin Pritchard

Capitalizing on their association with (and injection of Italian cash from) Fiat, Dodge has put together a compelling compact car package that targets a shopper unlikely to buy the “beige one” and drive it 15 under the speed limit in the fast lane. If you’re a bit young, a bit sporty and after something with a touch of attitude, the folks at Dodge (and Fiat) are hoping you’ll go for a Dart.

Under Dart’s sheetmetal and plastic skin, and between its signature racetrack LED taillamp and distinctive front fascia, it’s actually an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Sorta. It’s longer and wider – but based on the same internationally developed, celebrated and proven platform. That’s a good thing when it comes to ride comfort, chassis refinement and the like. And, since the Dart is Italian under the skin, you can tell your buddies it’s pretty much a Maserati.

The tested high-value SXT Rallye model was packed with plenty of the good stuff. The Rallye (pronounced ‘Rally”) package adds dual exhausts, a touring calibrated suspension, sexy alloy wheels and fog lamps for an active and street-smart look that’s distinguishing enough not to get lost in the Sears parking lot amidst the sea of Corollas, Elantras and Civics.

Shoppers test-driving the Dart against competitors like those, and others, will likely notice one of the model’s biggest strengths when they first hop on board: the interior. The tester used sculpting, depth, contrast stitching and some striped seats towards a refreshingly upscale atmosphere backed up by decent materials selection, with soft, quality-feeling plastics dispatched to cover much of the cabin. The instruments are gorgeous, and there’s plenty of storage at hand to keep smaller items organized and out of the way. All said, Dart’s cabin pulls its weight strongly towards its appeal as an overall package.

Test Drive: 2014 Dodge Dart videos car test drives dodge Test Drive: 2014 Dodge Dart videos car test drives dodge
2014 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye. Click image to enlarge

Feature content helps, too. The tester got a potent 500-watt Alpine stereo for blasting music out of its sunroof, and the best navigation and infotainment system in the segment bolted to the centre of the dashboard. Notably, this central interface is vivid, modern and bright. More importantly, it reacts instantly to driver inputs – flicking through screens and controls and functions as fast as fingertips can dance around the screen. Touch, and it responds right now – rather than lagging like a Commodore 64 trying to play Doom 3D. And, that fantastic navitainment interface and the slick instruments are surrounded by a red light-pipe at night that really sets the cabin off while picking up the red accents elsewhere through the cabin.

Test Drive: 2014 Dodge Dart videos car test drives dodge
2014 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye. Click image to enlarge

It’s a refreshing departure from the crispy grey interiors of numerous competitors that feel like they’re made of melted down Yoplait containers. Dart is on the big side for a compact car too – so even individuals of generous height and girth who typically avoid salad should find it adequately spacious. Your writer is of roughly average Canadian proportion and noted no issues with headroom, kneeroom, legroom and the like.

All of that for the tester’s under $25,000 price tag, which can be dropped to just over $23,000 if drivers omit the $1,400 automatic transmission and self-shift via the standard six-speed stick.

And they should, on account of the Multiair Tigershark. That’s a wicked-awesome engine name if one ever existed, and the big-dog four-banger is now available in the Dart’s SXT trim grade for 2014. The big four makes 184 horsepower from 2.4 litres of displacement – far from mind-blowing specific output– but running Fiat’s celebrated MultiAir technology means it’s all about how that power is delivered.




About Justin Pritchard

Justin Pritchard is a full-time auto writer, consultant, broadcaster and AJAC member based in Sudbury. When not writing about the latest new models and industry trends, you'll probably find him fixing his Dodge Viper.