While this car's handling is spectacular — as you would expect from an Italian-based design — its cabin is more of a mixed bag.
It gets a few things wrong, like a hard plastic texture on the center stack that is vaguely reminiscent of the old Dodge Neon, and seats that feel a bit too high for such an otherwise sporty car.
But it gets several things very right, too, starting with the dimensions. It's a compact car that doesn't seem all that compact, with an impressively spacious back seat and ample shoulder and head room.
Its digital displays in the higher-end models are among the best of any car, at any price. The Dart Aero and Dart Limited both get Dodge's reconfigurable cluster display that gives a high-tech, customizable look for the gauges directly behind the steering wheel. It's a gorgeous, practical, advanced-looking setup that I suspect more cars will be copying in the years to come.
If Dodge is aiming to be Chrysler's fun-to-drive brand, this car will do the job. It just does so in a low-horsepower, lightweight, Italian-style way rather than the high-horsepower, heavyweight, American-style way.
It's a very different, fresh version of the old Dodge formula.
Derek Price is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.