2018 Dodge Dart GT Auto Critic Steve Hammes

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2018 Dodge Dart GT Auto Critic Steve Hammes

2018 Dodge Dart GT Auto Critic Steve Hammes – The all-new Dodge Dart and I got off to somewhatof an inauspicious start last summer when I tested a Limited model with the optionalturbo and standard stickshift; far from a winning combination. But this time aroundI’ve got the racier GT model, a late addition to the Dart lineup powered by the biggestTigershark engine. Initially destined to be the Dart R/T, a high performance model whichthe company is said to be still considering, Dodge threw everyone a curveball and deliveredthis GT model instead identical in every way to the planned R/T model except with alower price, wearing a base MSRP of $20,995.

2018 Dodge Dart GT Auto Critic Steve Hammes

This Alfa Romeo in disguise restores life to ChryslerGroup’s dormant compact sedan offering and the 2013 GT is slotted as the top dog in a5 trim lineup which starts at a sub-$17,000 SE model. But contrary to the mismatched 1.4-literturbo and 6-speed manual which made driving the Dart Limited a chore, this GT model runswith the normally breathing 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with nearly 25 more horses.

2018 Dodge Dart GT Auto Critic Steve Hammes

Rated at 184 horsepowerand 174 pound feet of torque, this mill may lose some low-end to the turbo but withoutthe lag present it feels much livelier and plays substantially better with the 6-speedauto. And this isn’t the dual clutch transmission that’s optional with the turbo, instead it’sa traditional automatic with the preferred north-south AutoStick manual shifting. Andthough MPG numbers drop precipitously with this GT powertrain, you can feed it regulargas while the turbo prefers premium.

2018 Dodge Dart GT Auto Critic Steve Hammes

Still, it’s rated at 21mpg city/30mpg highway andmy weekly average was right at the EPA’s combined estimate. Now this is the Dart to have. Withits unique frequency damping shocks, more power, quicker steering and an excellent PowerTechtransmission, the GT is a much more satisfying and athletic drive. And the more aggressiveConti rubber really aids in the handling.

Though the ride quality becomes decidedly more firmand at times will rattle you around, the GT heightens its connection to the driver, bitesharder when pushed and brakes with authority. It’s a pleasure to drive and the MultiAirengine and sport-minded transmission combine to make a unique, let’s go soundtrack whichpermeates the otherwise quiet cabin. The GT won’t blow you away with its power deliveryfrom a standstill but its reaction times in the midranges are enough to push you backin the seat.

  • Limited model
  • highway andmy weekly
  • normally breathing

2018 Dodge Dart GT Auto Critic Steve Hammes

2018 Dodge Dart GT Auto Critic Steve Hammes

Similar to the Limited model, the GT also offers up an impressive interiordesign with rich quality, high tech and thoughtful touches. It looks expensive and when optionedlike this one comes with a wide array of amenities such as remote start with heated seats andsteering wheel, the best infotainment unit in the biz with the 8.4″ UConnect system whichis info packed and works intuitively, auto high beams, rain sensing wipers and blindspot monitor with cross path detection.

2018 Dodge Dart GT Auto Critic Steve Hammes

For all you see here, the $25,620 as tested priceis extremely reasonable and for that you also get the great GT looks including the LED racetracktail lamps. It just goes to show how a single trim level can take on a completely distinctiveflavor from the rest of the nameplate.