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Potential buyers have a near-endless selection of small, efficient, compact sedans. Given consumer demand, one would think everyone is choosing the most up-to-date and most desirable examples. But how does the seemingly extinct 2016 Dodge Dart stack up against the contemporary competition? For some—five to be exact—it was the best new car on sale.CarFigures reports that five people in 2022 bought a brand-new but six-year-old Dodge Dart. Some may ask: how was a new 2016 Dart still on sale in 2022? Occasionally, defunct vehicles have a tendency to stay around past their sell-by date. It’s because of a little automotive market phenomenon called “zombie cars.”

What is a zombie car?

Although zombie cars are rare, there is typically a crowd of them sold every year. Dealerships sometimes manage to sell a vehicle the manufacturer stopped making long ago, sometimes over half a decade.

Dealerships may be stuck with undesirable models the public passes over. Typically, the vehicles are nearing or have announced discontinuation dates when automakers stop advertising them. Potential buyers more than likely want the latest tech, entertainment, and performance seen in recent ads. Moreover, dealerships can also hold onto unsold, older-model cars as loaner vehicles. In such a case, dealer tags mean the vehicle is technically, rather legally, “new.”

Was the 2016 Dodge Dart a good car?

2016 Dodge Dart
Dodge Dart | David Cooper/Toronto Star, Getty Images

The Dodge Dart was built on a reworked version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta compact sedan from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Designed to reclaim the widespread popularity of the 90s Neon, it never lived up to the $1 billion in development. Dodge’s smallest sedan was roomier on the inside than one may have expected. It also boasted an intuitive infotainment system that impressed with its functionality. Nimble handling made it fun to drive and easy to park. With its base trim level beginning below $20,000, it was an adequate choice for an efficient small car.  

Why did FCA discontinue the Dodge Dart?

AutoEvolution reports that the move to ditch the Dart was explained by the FCA CEO at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Sergio Marchionne was not happy with the Dart’s sales figures or another failing FCA model.

“I can tell you right now that both the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart, as great products as they were, were the least financially rewarding enterprises that we’ve carried out inside FCA in the last eight years,” he said. “I don’t know one investment that was as bad as these two [nameplates] were.”

Against a highly competitive compact class, discerning shoppers balked at revamped 60s nameplate from FCA. The Dodge Dart hung around for just three model years. Since production on the first began in 2012, FCA has sold 334,499 of them. Going back to 2019, 37 Dodge Darts have left dealership lots as brand-new vehicles to customers. Customers bought seven Darts in 2020. But in 2021, that jumped to 10. Unfortunately, it’s currently unclear whether any more brand-new 2016 Dodge Darts are still tucked in the back of dealership lots.