Bland Car Enthusiast: Defending the Dodge Dart

2013 Dodge Dart

I hear a lot of smack talk about the new 2013 Dodge Dart, and not from automotive critics. Automotive critics are actually pretty into the Dart. The beef comes from average folks. And the average folks are the ones who we should all listen to, not the auto critics, right?

Actually, we should be listening to them all. The critics have the knowledge and experience of years of looking at cars and test driving them and reading other critics’ reviews and so on. The average folks, on the other hand, are not only the ones who matter in terms of auto sales, they are the ones who determine how a car fits into our culture. Everybody’s opinion has value.

And because of that fact, there is what many might call an overabundance of opinion. Well, here’s an opinion that comes as a result of this overabundance. So pay attention.

The Dodge Dart is awesome.

See, I’m worried that the killjoy nay-saying out there might destroy the buzz you have if you just bought a Dart. I feel like if you’re shelling out the money for a new car, you deserve that buzz. So ignore the detractors, Dart owners of America, and rejoice in your decision. The Dodge Dart is awesome.

I don’t mean to try and shut up everyone out there who genuinely doesn’t appreciate the Dart. I heard good people whose opinions I generally trust, or at least don’t dismiss, say a lot of bad things. And the opinions of average folk, as I said, are important to our national car-driving culture.

But someone said it’s terrible because it has four doors. Are you kidding me? Four-door sedans are rad. You ever try to put a kid or a dog or ANYTHING AT ALL in the back seat of a coupe? It’s a pain in the ass. Four doors are for smooth-riding smart folks. They make the car seem longer, bigger, more mature, more in charge, more in control. There’s confidence in four doors. If you buy a car with a backseat and only two doors, I wish you luck, ‘cause you’ll need it. Coupes are sporty-looking and cool, yeah, but I wouldn’t take a two-door that went around pretending it could still have a back seat. If there’s a back seat, give me four doors.

2013 Dodge Dart Rear End
Baby got back.

My friend John the Librarian said the rear end is too cute for the front end. The grille & headlights are sexy-awesome but the tail end, he says, is “so puffed up and the front so low and sleek… It looks to me like it’s perpetually in danger of tripping over its own nose and taking a header into the tarmac! Like a puppy stepping on its own ears.” I think what we have here is a straight-up aesthetic disagreement. I don’t think the rear end is cute or puffed up at all. I think it’s pretty sharp, and I freakin’ LOVE the tail lights. Anyway, to John and anyone else who thinks that “cute and puffed up” are negative aspects of a rear end, may I kindly refer you to the poetry of Sir Mix-A-Lot.

Finally, there’s been some harping on the poor acceleration performance of the Dart. Well, hey, let me stop you all right there. Firstly, you’re talking about the base engine. The base engine always has poor acceleration. That’s not why you buy the base engine. You buy the base engine because it has better mileage than the larger engine, and you buy it because you don’t value the bigger engine at the price they ask. If you did, you’d have bought the bigger engine. If you found a car on the lot with the base engine and bought it, kudos to you for your frugality. If you’re in a hurry, don’t worry, you’ll get there, and you’ll get there with a little more cash in your pocket than you would otherwise.

Now, in the case of the Dodge Dart, moving up a level to the next engine means a smaller engine, but it’s turbocharged, so it actually accelerates noticeably more quickly. And because it’s smaller, it gets even better mileage, which is among tops for a non-hybrid in its segment (or in any segment, for that matter). And you know what else? The higher-level engines on the Dodge Dart are named “Tiger Shark.” I know it’s just a name, but that’s still pretty bad ass.

The Dodge Dart is almost too big to be considered a compact car, and I think that’s awesome. I love big cars. I like to think that the next car I get will not be a compact, but the Dodge Dart is certainly up for consideration, especially since I can get it in super-fun six-speed manual transmission with a sweet turbocharged engine for like twenty grand (or less, if I play my cards right!).

Anyone can say what they want about the Dodge Dart, but for all you Dart owners and admirers out there, I will say this: the Dodge Dart is awesome.

I hope you’ll say it, too.

12 Replies to “Bland Car Enthusiast: Defending the Dodge Dart”

  1. One of the first cars I ever owned was a 1963 Dodge Dart GT. It remains one of my most beloved vehicles to this day. Doris was incredible. She had the original Slant Six and while I’d like to think it was my bitchin’ pin curl set that drew all the looks, it was definitely Doris. Long live the Dart!

  2. I have no opinion on it other than this: It looks much more like a dart than the barge that Dodge made back 60’s or the meh sedan of the 70’s. In styling alone it’s got good lines but until I see the JD Powers results and see what 2 years down the road mean for it in the usability/reliability realm I’m not going go out and get one.

    1. You say “barge” like that’s a bad thing. But yes, it totally does look better today. And yes, waiting to see what JD Powers has to say is always a prudent decision. How is your Corolla doing, by the way?

      1. Fantastically considering it was one of the last generation Totyotas made before quality started to decline. This is a car that has made it 9 years and should go another 11 with little issue. Barring, of course, the mid life repairs.

        I say barge since the big old cars do have some charm to them but they were whales with similar handling. Though in my defense I have always leaned towards the smaller side in cars so take my statements with that in mind.

        1. Also Edmunds is another good car data aggregator and according to them this car is basically the peak of the design line with the year before and after doing not quite as well.

          1. Sorry about that. If you look at the 2004 model in comparison to the ’03 or ’05 according to this: http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/corolla/2004/reliability.html?style=100282817&sub=

            You can see that the 2004 year based on mechanic reports was the hands down most reliable compared to the 2 years before and after. Now is that a perfect judge, no, but it’s a handy one to have. Though the ’08 and ’09 also are rated well, so much for the “last generation Totyotas made before quality started to decline” thought.

          2. Oh, okay, I totally thought you were still talking about the Dart. Makes much more sense now.

            Yeah, I heard all about Toyota’s “decline” — I actually worked for Edmunds when I first came back to California, and Cars.com before that (during the whole Prius-unintended-acceleration fiasco). And yes, if you take care of that little one, she should last you easily another decade. Getting a new car is always thrilling, but there’s a certain rush of pride you get with having a car break 100,000 miles.

          3. Indeed. Though we broke 100K in this car this year due to the amount of driving that is required here versus Chicago. I do think if we still lived there I would only be in the high 80,000. So this just means onward to 200,000 miles!!!!

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