Dodge has re-entered the compact car segment with a vengeance, replacing the Dodge Caliber crossover with a fresh sedan design called the Dodge Dart. The 2013 Dodge Dart's moniker might evoke a bygone era for the domestic automaker but the nostalgia starts and stops with the name as there is nothing retro about the smartly-styled small car. The Dodge Dart features intriguing technologies, excellent fuel mileage and an assist from the brand's Italian corporate parent in order to present the first truly competitive compact offering from Dodge in years.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2013 Dodge Dart.
01. The 2013 Dodge Dart Is A Brand New Design
The 2013 Dodge Dart rides on a new-for-North-America platform that allows the compact car to show off a saucy, fresh look that draws little from the brand's previous small vehicle efforts. The Dodge Dart's front fascia holds the line with automaker's current semi-malevolent motif, with canted headlights and a crosshair grille giving the sedan a definite sneer. From the side the Dart's sloped greenhouse and smooth sheet metal gives it a slippery shape that indicates that more than passing attention has been paid to the vehicle's aerodynamic properties, and the rear deck juts out over the bumper to shelter the Dart's wrap-around, Charger-inspired taillight treatment.
02. The 2013 Dodge Dart Includes Alfa Romeo DNA
The chassis that underpins the 2013 Dodge Dart has been borrowed, in part, from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The European automaker (which, like Dodge, is owned by conglomerate Fiat) is known for building automobiles that offer above-average handling. The Dart rides on wider, longer version of the Giulietta platform which allows for more interior room without sacrificing the driving dynamics offered by the Italian design, and a bi-link independent rear suspension and extensive use of high strength steel work together to offer an huge improvement over the comfort and handling of the departed Dodge Caliber.
03. The 2013 Dodge Dart Features Three Engine Choices
The 2013 Dodge Dart's base motor is a 2.0-liter Tigershark four-cylinder unit that has been tuned to provide 160 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. It's also possible to upgrade to a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that is based on Fiat's MultiAir technology. This mill matches the Tigershark in terms of horsepower but adds a total of 184 lb-ft of torque to the equation . The third and final entry into the Dart's powertrain list is a 2.4-liter, MultiAir Tigershark four-cylinder that will offer up 184 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque when it becomes available later this year. Transmission choices for the Dodge sedan include a traditional six-speed manual, a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual or a torque-converter six-speed automatic.
04. The 2013 Dodge Dart Offers Good Fuel Economy
Although official figures have yet to be released, Dodge executives haven't been exactly coy with their expectations regarding just how fuel efficient the 2013 Dodge Dart will actually be. The big number for the Dart is 40-mpg combined. This impressive rating means that the compact sedan will become by far the most frugal automobile ever built by the brand and the clear leader in fuel mileage in the automaker's current stable. Fuel economy for the Dodge Dart will become even more impressive during its second year of production, which is when the vehicle is expected to be offered with a new nine-speed automatic transmission that should improve efficiency by as much as 16 percent.
05. The 2013 Dodge Dart Comes In Five Trim Levels
The 2013 Dodge Dart starts out in SE trim, which includes LED tail lights, cloth seats, power windows and an MP3-capable CD Player. The Dart SXT upgrades to keyless entry, air conditioning, a louder stereo system and 17-inch wheels, while the Dart Rallye reshapes the front and rear of the sedan, substantially alters exterior trim and adds fog lamps, a dual exhaust, cruise control, a trip computer and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Dodge Dart Limited provides more chrome, a seven-inch TFT instrument display in front of the driver, a backup camera attached to an 8.4-inch LCD screen and the availability of a heated steering wheel and a navigation system. The top-of-the-line Dart R/T introduces sporty touches such as a stiffer suspension system, 18-inch alloy wheels, standard heated leather seats and dual automatic climate control.
06. The 2013 Dodge Dart Provides Extensive Accessorization Opportunities
The Mopar Accessories catalog boasts more than 150 items that can be added to the 2013 Dodge Dart in order to give it a little bit more of a personal flavor. Some of the highlights from the catalog include bigger brakes (via the Performance Braking Kit), a body kit that includes side sills, a rear diffuser and a front chin spoiler, an electronic vehicle tracking system that is designed to provide subscription-free tabs on stolen automobiles and a router than can transform the sedan into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Owners of smart phones will also be happy to hear that Mopar offers a wireless charging 'bin' located in the front console that can top up the batteries of a wide range of mobile devices.
07. The 2013 Dodge Dart Is Loaded With Technology
In addition to some of the high tech gear listed in the previous section, the 2013 Dodge Dart comes with a fairly impressive list of advanced features. The TFT screen that can be had on certain models of the sedan offers a number of driver-configurable screens that replace the traditional, staid gauges of old, while the vehicle's Garmin navigation system can be removed from the vehicle and carried around as a personal unit. The Dart is also available with active aerodynamic features such as a grille shutter system that diverts onrushing air from entering the engine bay at certain speeds, thus making the sedan slipperier, and the vehicle's LCD touch screen is a welcome addition to the entry-level ranks.
08. The 2013 Dodge Dart Is Very Safe
The 2013 Dodge Dart's technological sophistication extends to its safety equipment. The Dart can be had with features such as a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross path detection, which notifies drivers of anything approaching from the side while the sedan is reversing or traveling down the highway. Dodge also offers the Dart with a rearview camera, parking assist sensors and a system that keeps the brakes dry during rainy weather for more effective performance. Standard safety gear found on the Dart includes a complement of 10 airbags (front, front-side, rear-mounted pelvic airbags, side-curtain units and two forward knee airbags) as well as electronic stability control and traction control.
09. The 2013 Dodge Dart Is Fun To Drive
The 2013 Dodge Dart certainly isn't a sleeper, but it's got more cachet than the Dodge Caliber it replaces when it comes time to move through the corners. The Dodge Dart's Alfa Romeo platform gives it a dose of handling pleasure that not everyone is expecting in an entry-level car, and when ordered in R/T trim the sedan's fun factor gets dialed up thanks to the inclusion of the most powerful Tigershark engine as standard equipment and a suspension system that is designed to gobble up transitions with ease thanks to frequency-sensing shocks.
10. The 2013 Dodge Dart Is Affordably Priced
The 2013 Dodge Dart starts at $15,995 for the base SE edition of the car and will range all the way up to $22,495 when the Dart R/T goes on sale later this summer. This compares well with vehicles like the Ford Focus (starting MSRP $16,500), Chevrolet Cruze (starting MSRP $16,800) and the Hyundai Elantra (starting MSRP $16,995). The Dodge Dart also remains competitive moving up through each of its trim levels, especially when considering the level of equipment and high tech gear that comes with the different iterations of the automobile.