Drivetrain: Base and optional four-cylinder engines, ranging from 160-184 horsepower; six-speed manual transmissions for all and available automatic automatics, except fuel-saving Aero that uses a paddle-shifted automated manual.
Although the Dart and Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta (Alfa also belongs to Fiat) share the same basic underpinnings, the Dart has its own distinctive sheet metal, interior and powerplant selection. It’s also built at a Chrysler assembly plant in Illinois. Turning a Giulietta into a Dart involved increasing the platform length by 12 inches and the width by two. The result, claims Dodge, is a car with segment-leading scale, beating such small-car luminaries as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze. The cabin design is a standout, with futuristic-looking gauges, non-traditional control-panel displays and a unique storage area beneath the front passenger seat-cushion. For 2016, Dodge is reacting to customer and market feedback and has shuffled the Dart’s visual option packages slightly. The base engine is a 160-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s standard with the SE, while the bulk of remaining trims — SXT, Limited and GT — come standard with the 184-horsepower 2.4-liter, which is available as a Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV). The 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder remains exclusively found in the thrifty Aero model. The turbo-four is rated at the same 160 horses as the base engine, but leads in the torque department with 184 pound-feet versus 145. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with all engines, while a six-speed automatic is optional with all but the Aero’s 1.4 Turbo. That engine can be had with an available six-speed automated manual gearbox. Base Darts are pretty basic, but they get air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and power windows/locks. The options list incorporates a heated steering wheel, driver-selectable information screen, push-button start, soft leather seat covers, backup camera and trailer sway control that prevents your load from wiggling about. For 2016, there’s a new hood with an obvious, but non-functional, hood scoop available for the SXT and GT, the latter of which also gets new 18-inch “hyper black” wheels as standard.