Chrysler Group LLC’s Dodge Dart, the automaker’s first car based from a vehicle architecture supplied by majority owner Fiat SpA (F), won praise from Consumer Reports while falling just short of earning the magazine’s recommendation.
The Dodge Dart SXT netted a road-test score of 64 and the Dart Rallye was awarded a 61, Yonkers, New York-based Consumer Reports said in an e-mailed statement. The magazine tests cars for handling, efficiency, comfort and ease of use and the review of the Dart will be published in its January issue.
Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler and Fiat, called the Dart the most important new model for Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler since Fiat took control in mid-2009. The Dart’s quiet cabin and “nimble” handling places the SXT behind General Motors Co. (GM:US)’s Chevrolet Cruze among small sedans that Consumer Reports recommends.
“The Dart is the first decent compact car from Dodge in decades,” Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, said in the statement. “It has some solid positives. But overall it can’t yet measure up to the best in class.”
Chrysler’s engineers based Dart on Fiat’s “compact wide” platform, which was developed in Italy and forms the basis of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The architecture for Dart was lengthened by 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) and widened by about 2 inches for buyers in North America.
The January 2013 issue will be the first to include test results for Dart, which debuted in June. Consumer Reports said the car “stalls out” with its powertrains, calling its standard four-cylinder engine “underpowered” and its optional turbocharged counterpart “raspy.”
Consumer Reports has built credibility with customers by buying all the cars it tests and foregoing advertising. The Dart Rallye that the magazine bought is equipped with the turbocharged engine and had “drivability issues” when mated with the optional dual-clutch automated manual transmission, Consumer Reports said.
Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (7270)’s Subaru Impreza topped Consumer Reports’ rankings of small sedans with a road-test score of 82, followed by Hyundai Motor Co. (005380)’s Elantra with an 80 and Mazda Motor Corp. (7261)’s Mazda3 with 78. GM’s Cruze, the only other small sedan that the magazine recommends in its January issue, scored a 70 with the turbocharged engine and 68 with the conventional four-cylinder engine.
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