Dodge is attacking Dart’s sluggish sales on two fronts: by directly addressing weak points, and by adding value in the form of extra standard equipment.
The company has already released its sea change in engine availability, with the 2.0 restricted to the SE, the 1.4 to the Aero, and the 2.4 on Limited, GT, and SXT; early reports indicate that the 2.4 liter engine, as installed in Limited and SXT, will match or beat the 2.0 engine’s gas mileage on the highway. City numbers have yet to be released or even rumored, and a spokesman said that Chrysler had not yet gotten official numbers back from the EPA. (The GT model, with a different intake, calibration, exhaust, and transmission ratios, gets substantially lower gas mileage than Limited and SXT, though it uses the same engine. One source said that the GT’s mileage might increase slightly from 2013.)
The other product change, previously stated by Allpar, is a combination of a new seat design, which eliminates in-seat storage in favor of comfort. and new fabrics to enhance the appearance. On most models, Sedoso cloth with mesh inserts replaces Axel cloth; the Limited uses new perforated Nappa leather inserts. The company also has a new front speaker which cuts windshield glare, and a color coordinated bezel on the center “floating island.”
New for 2014 is the SE Convenience Group, accompanying an anticipated quadrupling of SE sales, which for $400 adds $645 worth of options, including cruise control and body-color door handles, which were not available before. The Sun & Sound Group on higher models works out to nearly a thousand dollars off. The GT model has been price-dropped below Limited, as well.
While some models have had price increases, they have also been “plus-contented.” The SXT price went up by $500 but contains $1,320 more in standard features; Aero went up by $600 and has over $2,100 more in features. According to Dodge, Rallye gained $1,910 in added content over the 2013, with no change in price. To be specific…
- The SE Convenience Group includes filtered air conditioning, power locks, remote keyless entry, body-color mirrors and door handles, cruise, Bluetooth, and an auto-dimming mirror. SE itself costs $15,995.
- SXT ($18,495) now contains, at no extra cost, dark-tinted automatic headlights, the 2.4, a black grille, 16-inch aluminum wheels, LED race-track tail-lights, Bluetooth, auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise, and steering-wheel audio controls. The Sun & Sound Group is new, and includes the 8.4” stereo, Alpine 10-speaker-plus-subwoofer 506 watt stereo group, and power sunroof. A new cold weather group includes heated cloth seats and mirrors with remote start.
- The Rallye Group, added to SXT, adds the 2.4 engine, 17-inch black wheels, leather shift knob (automatic), and accent stripes and stitching inside.
- Aero ($19,995) adds the chrome grille, 8.4-inch stereo, reconfigurable gauges, rear backup camera, six-speaker stereo with remote CD player, Bluetooth, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and satellite radio.
- Limited ($22,995) adds the 2.4, standard automatic, remote start, power sunroof and leather, heated front seats and steering wheel, dual-zone automatic temperature control, keyless entry and starter, navigation, satellite radio, and universal garage door opener. The Tech Group (on both Limited and GT) at the same price, adds an alarm and HID headlights to the existing rain-sensitive wipers, smart headlamps, rear park assist, and blind spot/rear cross path detection.
Most SE buyers are likely to pay $18,640, which includes the automatic transmission ($1,250) and convenience group ($1,395). The automatic has the same cost on SXT, Aero, and GT (on Aero, it’s a dual clutch; otherwise it’s a conventional six-speed). Every Dart except Limited comes with a standard manual transmission.
Compact spare tires appear to now be a $350 option on all but Aero; we do not know whether this indicates that the cars will come without a spare, otherwise. Light interiors are restricted to SXT (tan) and Limited (white); all other buyers get black or dark gray interiors.
According to Dodge, the Dart already had the youngest demographic and highest conquest rate (percentage of new owners moving from other brands) in its segment.
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