Dodge Dart long-term update: Living up to its fuel economy numbers

With lofty CAFE targets hovering over the automakers’ heads, manufacturers can give overly enthusiastic fuel economy figures, as shown with Ford’s C-Max. But how about the 2013 Dodge Dart and its Fiat 500 Abarth-derived turbo engine? Having logged over 13,000 miles on the crimson-hued Dodge, we’re happy to see that largely lives up to its gas-sipping promises.

Over the course of ten months, the Dart averaged 30.3 mpg, a stone’s throw from the 27/37/31 city/hwy/combined figure given by the EPA. But in city driving (and from co-workers with an over-zealous right foot), the fuel economy dipped as low as 22 mpg, and on the highway some reported as high as 38 mpg. As with most cars, cruising at speeds higher than 65 mph all but ensured that we wouldn’t hit the 37 highway mpg number, and we routinely saw averages around 31 – 32 mpg for longer excursions.

One surprise for the Dart is its relatively large fuel tank for the segment. Whereas others typically have a 13-gallon tank, the Dodge can carry 15.8 gallons, which guaranteed that we could make a San Francisco to Los Angeles trip with fuel to spare.

Strangely enough, I also got my first thumbs up driving the car from a college-aged guy driving a lower-trimmed Dart, who admired the Rallye trim’s blackout treatment on the grill. Biased praise, admittedly — but I can’t recall the last time someone gave a shout-out to me an economy car.

With the holiday season fast approaching, we’ll be logging more long-distance miles on the Dart, and see whether it continues to see 30+ mpg numbers in colder weather.

2013 Dodge Dart

Months in fleet 10
Miles on odometer 13,268
Average mpg 30.3
Miles on odometer 13,268
Maintenance costs: $61.84 (synthetic oil change, tire rotation)
In-warranty repair: Transmission pump ($0)
Wear/out-of-warranty repair None