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Dart production is down because the care isn't selling, we know this. The reason the cars aren't selling is because there is no style to them. The Dart is a very bland car, with no lines to it. The colors are non-metallic. Engine response isn't up to American standards either. These are the reasons the cars aren't selling. Stop making ugly/bland, European cars for the American Public and begin to give us American style autos and they will sell.
 

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I'll bet the biggest reason it isn't selling as well sits right next to it on the showroom floor. The Avenger can be had for under $20K with incentives while the Dart is over $20K. I've seen far more new Avenger's than I do Dart's in my neck of the woods.

Personally, I like the Dart's "lines" slightly better than the Avenger. I haven't test driven a Dart yet, so I can't comment on the engine response.
 

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Charles Fredrickson said:
Dart production is down because the care isn't selling, we know this. The reason the cars aren't selling is because there is no style to them. The Dart is a very bland car, with no lines to it. The colors are non-metallic. Engine response isn't up to American standards either. These are the reasons the cars aren't selling. Stop making ugly/bland, European cars for the American Public and begin to give us American style autos and they will sell.
And a hearty welcome to Allpar!

The above is, of course, opinion, and everyone has different opinions. However, it is not true that the colors are non-metallic. I cite the following offerings:

Bright Silver Metallic Clearcoat
Maximum Steel Metallic Clearcoat
Tungsten Metallic Clearcoat

And also of interest:
Blue Streak Pearlcoat
Citrus Peel Pearlcoat
True Blue Pearlcoat
Winter Chill Pearlcoat
 
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The styling could have been more original, I'll agree, there are a lot of influences in there, it's almost like looking at a Hyundai... in terms of the borrowing. Guess they were playing it safe.

When it comes down to it, I think we can credit these issues...
  1. Avenger discounting. Don't think this is minor, we have several people on the forums alone who said they went in for Dart and came out with Avenger -- it was hard to beat the pricing and the overall package is quite nice. If you don't care about extreme handling and gadgetry, and gas mileage is a secondary concern, Avenger is absolutely better. Handling is more than adequate.
  2. The media really hammered the powertrains, more than was deserved. I'll put Dart 1.4 DDCT against Cruze automatic any day for powertrain.
  3. There was no immediate predecessor in that space.
  4. Marketing/advertising was ... off. The Alfa connection I will absolutely agree to be nonsensical. It clashed with the name, for one thing.
  5. Not having an acceleration-heavy sport model hurts its “street cred.” The Eurosport notion of adequate engine (unresponsive at low rpm) and great cornering doesn't play in the USA, except perhaps for Mini, which you'll notice had the turbo Cooper right away.
  6. Avenger discounting. Thought I would mention it again since it's so important.
  7. Huge upcharge for basics like an automatic which Americans really love, and the 1.4 engine itself. It quickly took a nicely equipped compact to $24,000 and up, beyond, as said too many times, Avenger/200 pricing and close to Charger.
  8. Dodge reputation among the unwashed public is still pretty poor.
  9. Fiat's reputation among those who recognize the Dart name is really really poor.
  10. Headrests on some models are unbearable. I can't drive with a cushion wedging my head down at a 30 degree angle.
 
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Charles Fredrickson said:
Dart production is down because the care isn't selling, we know this. The reason the cars aren't selling is because there is no style to them. The Dart is a very bland car, with no lines to it. The colors are non-metallic. Engine response isn't up to American standards either. These are the reasons the cars aren't selling. Stop making ugly/bland, European cars for the American Public and begin to give us American style autos and they will sell.
Sales expectations were high, as they should be, but I still think the Dart is a very good car and the sales will improve. The Dart I test drove had the manual and 1.4 turbo...response seemed fine as it had plenty of get-up and go. Styling-wise it's as pleasing to the eye as the Focus or Cruze or pretty much any other offering out there, and as for options and comfort I think it's top-notch for a smaller car. I do think the "street cred", as mentioned by Dr Z, is important for these entry-level cars, and not having the GT model at launch hurt sales. This class of car is aimed at the younger crowd of consumers anyway, so hopefully the GT will bolster sale numbers.

I think it's fair to predict that the Dart numbers will rise for model year 2014 for a few reasons. First, if dealers can keep a proper mix of manuals and autos available on their lots (the local dealers in my area seem auto-heavy at the moment), sales will improve. Second, as mentioned by others, the Avenger will be retired and won't be able to bleed off Dart sales. Third, the GT model will be added to the mix and should boost sales. Finally, time alone will help....I think sales will improve for the simple fact that the Dart will be a bit more of a real world fixture...advertising will continue and more Darts will hit the streets. As potential buyers actually see Darts on the street in the flesh, the car is good enough that it will get the person to the showroom. I think 100K in sales for the 2014 model is realistic.
 

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... Yeah, I agree. 2014 and 2015 sales might not be dynamite, but I think it will be pretty fair. Maybe with a Hatch to go along with the Sedan, it will begin drawing people to one Dart or the other, instead of drawing some people to the Avenger. Teething problems.

ChryFi very likely thought it would be difficult to overcome the V8 Truck image Dodge has with consumers. And it is. I think they thought it would resonate well from the start, but had the reality in the back of their minds that the hill to climb is/was steep. And it is. It will require more regular attention to massage and manage than anyone wanted; but "Dodge doesn't build good small cars" will take awhile to normalize.

They're marketing and advertising is going to have to be fully re-thought, re-packaged, re-directed and basically stellar for some time to come in order to overcome the circumstances and turn the model onto the right heading. Doable, but difficult for the near-term.
 

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I'm coming up on a full year with my Dart and I absolutely love it.

The 1.4T is adequate, if nothing else. Previously I had a modded 1.8T in a VW that put out around 200hp so it did seem a bit sluggish when I first got the Dart (less power, larger car). I think the biggest problem is the misconception that when people see the word "turbo" they automatically think big time power increases (i.e. Neon SRT and Caliber SRT). But here the turbo is really used to squeeze the most mileage out of the car and it certainly excels at that. I'm able to get 38-39 hwy cruising at 72 with the A/C on.
 
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