New Model Brings More Power to the Dart Board
Why the 2013 Dodge Dart GT Matters: The Dodge brand is in an interesting position as the new selling season kicks off. Although it reported faster sales growth than mainstream rivals like Chevy, Nissan and Ford, much of that increase has come courtesy of older vehicles that are probably making hay based on their low prices. The Dodge Grand Caravan, Dodge Journey and Dodge Avenger, for example, enjoyed sales increases in 2012 of 28 percent, 44 percent and 51 percent, respectively. Yet the brand’s one all-new vehicle—the 2013 Dodge Dart—has lagged noticeably behind its in-segment rivals in each of the six or so months it’s been on the market.
Thus, for December, it was dead last in volume for mainstream compacts with 6,105 sales; in fact, the leading seller in the segment in December, the 2013 Honda Civic, delivered more units last month (33,118) than the Dart has in half a year (25,303). And the Civic isn’t alone with a big lead over the Dodge. The Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and VW Jetta each sold at least 15,600 vehicles last month, more than doubling the Dart’s performance.
Changing up those kinds of sales results is the ultimate goal of the 2013 Dodge Dart GT, which will seek to achieve its mission by combining a more powerful engine with more premium amenities at a price that’s much more reasonable than you may expect: $20,995.
After making its initial public appearance in Detroit this month at the North American International Auto Show, the 2013 Dodge Dart GT is then expected to hit dealerships in the third quarter of the year.
- A turbocharged, 2.4-liter “Tigershark” I4 engine with MultiAir technology for improved fuel efficiency and power outputs of 184 hp/174 lb.-ft. of torque
- Revised suspension tuning highlighted by frequency-sensing damping shocks to deliver enthusiast-approved handling
- An array of appearance enhancements, including a unique and sportier front fascia, 18-inch aluminum wheels with a Hyper Black finish, integrated dual exhaust, Dodge’s hallmark “racetrack-style” rear LED lights, and black headlamp bezels
- Cabin comforts such as perforated leather seating with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, and premium, soft-touch materials
- Tech goodies like Garmin navigation, an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, a reconfigurable TFT instrument cluster, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, and a premium Alpine sound system that runs 506 watts of power through ten speakers—including a subwoofer
- Improved aerodynamics, thanks to active grille shutters and underbody aero pieces
The party line from Reid Bigland, the Dodge brand’s president and CEO: “The new Dart GT embodies the best attributes that compact car buyers are looking for, including outstanding style, performance, technology and value. With 184 horsepower, 18-inch aluminum wheels, sport suspension, premium leather interior and several class-exclusive features, the Dart GT represents the sweet spot in the compact car market, offering mid-size roominess combined with premium amenities for only $20,995 MSRP.”
New 2013 Dodge Dart GT: Styling and Design
The Italian fashion impact on the 2013 Dodge Dart has always been immediately noticeable, giving the car a more low-slung and curvaceous design than many of its rivals—which can still struggle to bring traditional sedan proportions to the compact class. Now, that’s still an advantage of the Dart GT, but the car also gains from its redesigned front end, particularly when it comes to the grille. The Dart’s can seem overly busy when the upper and lower grilles are separated by a body-color bumper bar, something that’s rectified by the blackout style highlighting the new face of the GT.
The interior is in for more fine-tuning, and here a particularly impressive upgrade is the available two-tone leather seating in Black and Ruby Red; Dodge has final gotten in on the trend to bring two-tone cabins back to the mainstream, also offering the look in some Dart models with cloth seats, and the execution in the 2013 Dodge Dart GT is expected to take things to ye olde next level.
Of course, the 2013 Dodge Dart GT also is available with the full complement of design differentiators from the rest of the lineup, ranging from its LED exterior light treatment to high-tech cabin features like an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen to a “thin film transistor” gauge cluster that can be customized by owners to display information about key vehicle systems.
Finally, 12 wild and wacky exterior colors will be available: Redline Red, Header Orange, Blue Streak, Citrus Peel, Laguna Blue, Pitch Black, Tungsten, Bright Silver, Bright White, True Blue, Maximum Steel and Winter Chill.
New 2013 Dodge Dart GT: What’s Under the Hood
Providing the motivation for the 2013 Dodge Dart GT is the automaker’s 2.4-liter Tigershark engine, complemented by both turbocharging and the MultiAir intake technology that enhances efficiency while also boosting power—in this case, to a robust 184 hp and 174 lb.-ft. of torque, representing increases of 15 percent and 17.6 percent, respectively, as compared to the entry-level model. Dodge didn’t release EPA projections, but as a reminder, the high-efficiency compact is rated to deliver up to 36 mpg highway in its base trim, with a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated I4, and can reach 41 mpg when configured with Dodge’s “Aero” package and a 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo I4.
Dart drivers also will have a choice of two transmissions in the 2013 Dodge Dart GT. As expected in a performance-oriented car, these will include both a six-speed DIY unit as well as a six-speed automatic with Dodge’s PowerStick manual-shifting capabilities.
New 2013 Dodge Dart GT: Features and Technology
One of the more important aspects of the current downsizing trend among auto customers is that while more folks are willing to buy shorter vehicles to get better fuel-economy ratings, said vehicles still need to provide a long list of premium amenities. And that’s something that the 2013 Dodge Dart GT will achieve at a relatively modest price point. At under $21K, the Dart GT boasts many of the upscale features mentioned here as part of its standard setup, like its heated leather seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, rearview camera system, Uconnect touchscreen, TFT gauge cluster, distinctive rear light treatment, ambient LED interior lighting, a six-speaker sound system, a sophisticated sport suspension, and a dual-zone climate system with in-cabin air filter.
Available content upgrades then include the Powertech automatic transmission, a powered sunroof, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, SiriusXM satellite radio, Navigation from Garmin (and with the Sirius XM Travel Link), the 10-speaker Alpine audio system and an advanced technology package. That latter group piles on goodies like push-button start, keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers, smart-beam headlamps and, still fairly rare in the compact segment, blind-spot and rear cross-path detection safety measures.
New 2013 Dodge Dart GT: What Autobytel Thinks
On the face of it, trying to goose sales of the Dart by goosing its power outputs seems like a good idea, especially when that’s combined with a strong complement of standard content and high-value pricing. After all, automakers have been following that basic strategy for decades, as can be seen with compact entries like the new 2014 Ford Focus ST and the latest 2013 Honda Civic Si. The 2013 Dodge Dart GT won’t be as powerful as those two, but it won’t be as expensive, either, and that could very well open the door for more sales for the Dart lineup. However, savvy shoppers also should keep in mind that the aforementioned 2013 Dodge Dart Aero, with its gaudy EPA marks of 28 mpg city/41 mpg highway/32 mpg combined, actually delivers more torque than the Dart GT, and at a price tag that’s $1,700 lower. The tale of the tape between the two:
2013 Dodge Dart Aero—$19,295 for 160 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque
2013 Dodge Dart GT—$20,995 for 184 hp and 174 lb.-ft. of torque
The GT does provide more standard content, including its nifty suspension, but either should make a compelling choice for the right driver.