Skip to main content

2013 Dodge Dart

Posted Aug 29th 2012 11:57AM

CommentsAdd


Chrysler has long been considered the 'comeback king' in it's storied history. There were some dark times living in the shadows of Ford and GM being the perpetual number third stringer in terms of size and revenue. It seems history repeats itself with this company because formula for success seems to just take one brilliant mind and one good car to get the company back in the headlines. Harkening back to successes with the company like the K-Car, the Neon and 300C -- Sergio Marchionne and his fast-tracked Dodge Dart could be the feel-good hit of the summer the company was looking for.

Although the Dart was produced in only 18 months, it did have a leg-up in development considering it's underpinnings are from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The involvement of Fiat definitely gave the Dart an advantage to come to market rapidly and have a more exotic appeal of an Italian make that isn't even for sale here, yet starts at $15,995. It was quite apparent that Dodge wanted to approach the compact market right and unlike their Caliber debacle, there were a lot of considerations that might not be readily apparent. Dodge indicated that nearly 350,000 Canadian new car sales in 2011 were compacts, making it a hotter sector here relative to U.S. buyers but they also weren't looking to produce just another compact either. The mission was to give more standard equipment, more flare and choices not found in the segment over several trims: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and the upcoming R/T.
Related Gallery2013 Dodge Dart



From the outside, the Dodge Dart is decidedly more
attractive than what the pictures convey.

From the outside, the Dodge Dart is decidedly more attractive than what the pictures convey. Although we might have score to settle with the lofty ride-height, the overall shape, design cues and subtle details are certainly refreshing. Elements that set it apart from being an econo-box are piano black inserts, standard projector headlights and elongated buttresses flanking the rear window and of course the Dodge DNA of the floating cross-hair grille and the 152-LED tail panel. The crafting of the body is the result of 600 hours of wind tunnel testing, which has blessed the Dart with an ultra-low 0.28 drag coefficient (with the aid of operable grille shutters). And since Dodge did not want to produce just another appliance, they offered 12 exterior colours and a staggering 13 interior colour options – a huge departure from black, grey and beige.

The platform borrowed from Alfa Romeo is actually a 5-door and Dodge was tight-lipped about any upcoming iterations. The plan was to tackle the larger compact sedan market by using up the dimensions of the platform to create a long, low and wide vehicle. The body work is simple with a dose of Dodge attitude and even upscale features like the laser-braised roof that requires no channel for spot welds and improved rigidity.



The Dart gets one of three engines the standard 2.0L Tigershark, the 1.4L MultiAir
Turbo and the 2.4L MultiAir in the R/T model.

One of the great perks of the Fiat deal is the access to solid 4-cylinder engines. Europe knows a bit about saving the dino-juice and the Dart gets one of three engines the standard 2.0L Tigershark, the 1.4L MultiAir Turbo and the 2.4L MultiAir in the R/T model due in this Fall.

Although there was no R/T on hand, there were $19,495 Rallye models with the 1.4L MultiAir running either the 6-speed manual or the dual dry-clutch transmission (DDCT) automatic. But to eek the best out of the 1.4 litre turbo and have more driving dynamics, you'll want the 6-speed shifter in your right hand. We liked the exhaust note coming from the modest 4-banger and it propelled the Dart well in the upper rpm range with its 160hp paying up at 5,500 rpm. The 184 lb-ft of torque is listed from 2,500-4,000 rpm but that sounds a tad early since it didn't feel too apparent until 3,500. The fuel-efficient 2013 Dodge Dart Aero model delivers up to 4.8L/100 km with the award-winning 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo engine and a starting Candin MSRP of just $19,795.




When it comes to the chassis, the aforementioned Alfa Romeo platform is well balanced. The Dart didn't seem to be agile enough to win any autocross events, we'll leave that for rumoured Dart SRT but it was composed and comfortable. Since most of our test roads are in decay, there were plenty of bumps and potholes that were dealt with although the very sharp bumps were more noticeable inside.

The electric power steering feel was well weighted and the Dart is fairly nimble considering it's 1,447 kg (3,186-pound) curbweight. Brake feel was also solid with a few hard stops thanks to 305x28 mm front rotors and 264x10 mm rears.



The Dart is offered with seven different wheel options ranging from
a 16x7-inch wheel to an 18x7.5-inch in two flavours for the R/T.

Dodge stated that they wanted to give the buying public some options with this car and they weren't kidding around. The Dart is offered with seven different wheel options ranging from a 16x7-inch wheel to an 18x7.5-inch in two flavours for the R/T.

Dodge also has a few different tires to pair them with but for our drive it was the 225/45R17 ContiProContact, a respectable all-season performer that didn't flinch for our spirited street adventures.



Gone are the days of plastic Dodge interiors with the same minivan radio
in everything because there are some quality materials in here...

True to their word, Dodge put together an interior that doesn't befit the class. It's roominess, design and craftsmanship coupled with the ride quality and sound deadening gives the aura of driving a larger sedan. Gone are the days of plastic Dodge interiors with the same minivan radio in everything because there are some quality materials in here and a big, bright LCD infotainment interface. And that isn't all, there was lots to talk about inside, like: a heated steering wheel, keyless start, dual zone climate controls, blind spot monitoring (with cross-path for parking lots), a backup camera, 10 air bags, optional 506W sound system, Garmin nav tech and a totally unexpected stow-box under the passenger seat. And then there was the LCD dash in the $23,245 Limited we couldn't stop playing with, a hit with nearly every reviewer since we first saw the Dart earlier this year in Texas. Inspired by sports gear the interior is roomy with best in class rear leg room, well laid out earning it a Ward's 10 Best and style-wise a welcome departure, although we could do without the "scattered triangles" they chose over black nylon or perforated metal for speaker grilles.



Does Dodge have a low-buck hit on their hands? The blend of style,
range of options and high dose of efficiency certainly say yes.

When it came time to release the fuel economy numbers you could tell, Dodge was excited to break the news. Face it, gasoline is expensive and Canadians are eager to save on fuel costs so the highway numbers were impressive from the manual 1.4L MultiAir Turbo achieving 4.8 L/100km (58 MPG) 5.3 L/100km (DDCT auto) and a scant 4.8 L/100km with the Aero package! In the city, the MultiAir is the way to go as well with 7.4 L/100km (38 mpg) in either manual or automatic. The 2.0L Tigershark is nearly as efficient but the range-topping $23,995 R/T with the larger 184 hp motor will definitely sip far more gas although official numbers aren't available.

Does Dodge have a low-buck hit on their hands? The blend of style, range of options and high dose of efficiency certainly say yes. At the same time, it's been seven years since Dodge has brought out a compact and they certainly have something to prove in a now very crowded market.


Related Gallery2013 Dodge Dart




Image Credit: Copyright 2012 Dave Pankew / AOL

FOLLOW AUTOBLOG CANADA

Follow us on Facebook

Get updates from Autoblog Canada posted directly to your News Feed.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

2 Comments

Filter by:
Glenn Laycock

A lofty ride height .. thank goodness in my mind. Maybe is it just our Manitoba roads which are often more like driving in a battle zone, but for anyone over 25 you will thank the gods for that extra inch of ground clearance and spring action. Now the SRT4 ... that is another matter.

August 31 2012 at 10:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bigfriggindeal

It sure looks great. Its a bit heavy at 3,186 lb . The Honda Civic comes in at 2,608 (standard dx), the ford focus 4 door is 2,907. It's giving up almost 580 lbs to the Civic... that's huge. The added punch the engine has wouldn't even be noticed. I really want this car to be successful, but it appears to have the same drawback as the Dodge Charger and the Dodge Challenger... too much weight.

August 29 2012 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply