Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn’t waiting for a new model year to rejuvenate its flagging Dodge Dart compact sedan.
The 2016 Dodge Dart is nothing like the popular coupes, convertibles and sedans of the 1960s and 1970s that are credited with introducing the model name. After a 37-year hiatus, the current version was presented in 2013 and is derived from an Alfa Romeo platform that it shares with the slightly larger Chrysler 200 sedan.
Trouble is, today’s new car shoppers are turning away from small cars and looking at SUVs and trucks in greater numbers. When shoppers do want a small car, they’re more likely to consider Honda or Chevrolet, not Dodge.
Trim Level Reduction and Shuffling
Through the first three months of this year, compact car sales were down by 5.2 percent, while demand for similarly sized SUVs soared by 25 percent. For the Dodge Dart, sales are off by nearly one-third, but parent Fiat Chrysler is fighting back by shuffling trim levels in the middle of the 2016 model year.
Gone are the base SE, SXT, Aero, GT and top-of-the-line Limited trims. In their place a simplified lineup that includes SXT Sport, Turbo and GT Sport models is taking over.
Dodge Dart SXT Sport
The 2016 Dodge Dart SXT Sport is priced from $17,995 or $1,000 more than the previous base SE model. It brings in far more standard equipment than the discontinued SE, including 16-inch aluminum wheels, keyless entry, steering wheel-mounted controls, cruise control, air conditioning, Bluetooth and satellite radio.
The Dart SXT Sport continues with the base 160-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. As before, a six-speed manual gearbox is standard and a six-speed automatic transmission is available.
Dodge Dart Turbo
Dodge prices the Dart Turbo from $19,495, equipping this model with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower. This model comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission and features a sportier hood, a dual exhaust system and a Rallye appearance package.
There are also special aluminum wheels and blacked-out touches on the light bezels and across the grille.
Dodge Dart GT Sport
The GT Sport starts at $20,995, reflecting a $1,100 price decrease over the previous GT. This model is powered by a 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and offers the choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. It is equipped with 17-inch aluminum wheels, automatic headlights, fog lights, heated sideview mirrors, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, an 8.4-inch color display, dual-zone automatic climate control and a backup camera.
Furthering buyer customization, the Dodge Dart will continue to offer Chrome, Rallye and Blacktop appearance packages across the entire product line. Each factory-installed option brings in changes to the exterior, including lighting trim, side mirrors and wheels. The Rallye package also includes a rear stabilizer bar, LED racetrack tail lamps and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Discounts and Financing Deals
The newly contented Dart models are not yet in showrooms as dealer orders begin this month. Meanwhile, customers should be aware that 2016 Dart SE, SXT, Aero, GT and Limited models are currently available. Furthermore, dealers still have a limited number of 2015 Dodge Darts to sell. Cash discounts and low-rate financing accompany remaining 2015 stock, with incentives set on a regional basis. Similarly, cash and financing incentives on the current stock of 2016 models are also in play.