I haven't had a chance to drive a Dodge Dart yet (I'm not one of those big-time auto journalists, you know) but I did get a good look at them at the NAIAS, and also, I have been watching the launch publicity and early reviews.
Here are some thoughts.
The Dart appears to be Chrysler's first competitive compact/midsize vehicle since the Dodge Cirrus of years ago. It has modern efficient powertrains, a nice interior, and nice gadgets.
It is a 100% improvement over the Caliber, which was, even after a refresh, a cheap rent-a-car.
Reviewers so far have been saying that the driving dynamics are quite good, and NVH is excellent.
Chrysler's weak spot now is quality and reliability. They need to work hard to convince people that they aren't selling pretty junk. Though, these days, even below-average quality new cars are quite a bit better than the average of just a decade ago.
I wouldn't buy a new Dart, yet, but I would not hesitate to lease one.
The other part I'm not sold on is the front end styling. It seems like a mish-mash of Dodge cross and more organic influences. I actually like the basic monochrome version much better than the black bedecked Rallye trim. The front overhang seems very long to me.
Still, this is the first car I have seen from Chrysler in a while that I could see myself owning.