By Bob Nagy - Updated Date: 5/15/2012
Dodge's first compact model since the Neon, the all-new 2013 Dart is an impressive exercise that's stylish, roomy, well-finished and offers loads of powertrain and personalization possibilities. With a host of new techno touches, innovative user-friendly features and multiple trim grades – including an econo-oriented Aero model and a performance-oriented GT variant – this engaging front-drive sedan can be tailored to meet almost any set of buyer preferences. Given its equally aggressive pricing, the 2013 Dodge Dart is poised to be a major player in a super-competitive market segment that includes established heavyweights like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Mazda Mazda3.You'll Like This Car If...
Bold looks, impressive features, outstanding interior space, Euro-flavored driving dynamics and fuel-efficient powertrain choices – eventually including a mileage-maxing aero package – coupled with value pricing make the new Dodge Dart a compelling choice in the compact segment.You May Not Like This Car If...
Buyers who prefer more traditional styling or demand a vehicle with a hybrid or turbodiesel powertrain will still need to turn to Dart rivals like the Honda Civic or Volkswagen Jetta. With its available Skyactiv engine, the Mazda3 also makes a strong case for consideration.What's New for 2013
As the first Chrysler Group product to be based on Alfa Romeo platform architecture, the 2013 Dart resurrects a classic Dodge name while introducing a new level of style, content and practical technology to the brand – and in several instances, to the entire compact segment.Driving It Driving Impressions
Based on an expanded Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform, the 2013 Dodge Dart features a super-rigid unit body rich in high-strength steel that gives it the kind of tight, solid feel typically associated with a larger car. A long wheelbase, well-tuned suspension and nicely-sorted electric power steering combine to make the Dart as comfortable and controlled cruising down a highway as it is taking on serpentine back roads. Less-demanding drivers will find the standard 160-horsepower/2.0-liter naturally-aspirated engine has adequate muscle to move this 3,200-pound sedan, but it's decidedly less stressed when backed by the manual transmission. The optional 1.4-liter turbocharged four with its substantially greater torque both feels and sounds more enthusiastic, but hard-liners will find the GT, with its 184-horsepower 2.4-liter engine and tauter chassis, to be their Dart of choice.Favorite Features
MULTIAIR ENGINE TECHNOLOGY
Developed by Fiat and fitted to both the 1.4-liter turbo and 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated Dart engines, MultiAir technology individually controls the lift and timing of the engine's intake valves to improve both performance and fuel economy.
FLOATING ISLAND DASH BEZEL
A class-exclusive feature that's standard on Dart Limited and GT models, this innovative interior element is ringed in Ruby Red band of LED illumination and contains the 7.0-inch reconfigurable TFT (Thin Film Transistor) instrument cluster display and 8.4-inch UConnect touch screen multimedia system.
Offering abundant space, innovative style, loads of soft-touch surfaces and numerous color/trim possibilities, the 2013 Dart gets our vote for best-in-class overall cabin design. Its front bucket seats, whether covered in cloth or available leather, provide a great combination of comfort and support while the rear bench is fully adult compatible. Available segment-exclusives like a reconfigurable dash display, huge Uconnect infotainment screen and a heated steering wheel further define its unique character while a cavernous glovebox that can literally swallow a laptop plus hidden storage under the front-passenger seat cushion on the Limited and GT models further add to the new Dart's appeal.Exterior
The 2013 Dodge Dart's sleek and sexy exterior previews a number of cues that will also appear in subsequent Dodge models. With its long (106.4-inch) wheelbase, short overhangs and relatively wide stance, the Dart has a well-planted look even when it's standing still. A distinctive interpretation of the division's signature "gunsight" grille design and the available full-width LED taillights integrate seamlessly with its different model-specific color and accent touches, while unique wheel/tire fitments and detailing further separate this 4-door from the rest of its compact rivals in the curbside appeal department.Notable Standard Equipment
All 2013 Dart models offer impressive standards that build within the model hierarchy. The base SE features a 160-horsepower engine, power windows, projector-beam headlights, LED taillights and a comprehensive suite of safety systems – including 10 airbags – while the SXT adds items like air conditioning, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat and 17-inch alloy wheels. Rallye models gain cruise control and unique cosmetics, with the posher Limited adding the floating island dash bezel with UConnect plus econo-enhancing active grille shutters and underbody fairings – the latter two items shared with the SE-based Aero. The GT boasts a 184-horsepower engine, sport suspension, 18-inch alloys, Nappa leather upholstery and more.Notable Optional Equipment
Many Dart options are trim-grade related and available in various packages as well as in stand-alone form, including the new Mopar wireless charging bin for smartphones. Even the SXT offers the 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen, navigation and a 506-watt audio system, plus the 1.4-liter Turbo MultiAir engine. Dart Limited buyers can opt for Nappa leather in place of cloth upholstery, as well as the Technology/Premium Groups that bring items like high-intensity-discharge xenon headlights, dual-zone auto climate control, a heated steering wheel, Blind-spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross Path detection. Both packages as well as unique 18-inch alloy wheels are available on the Dart R/T.Under the Hood
The new Dodge Dart offers three 4-cylinder engines, each optimized for efficiency and mpg. All but the GT start with a 2.0-liter "Tigershark" engine that makes a class-leading 160 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, but SXT/Rallye/Limited models offer an optional Fiat-sourced 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir engine which also is standard in the Dart's mpg-leader Aero model. It too develops 160 horsepower in all applications, but generates nearly 25 percent more torque. Topping the muscle charts, the GT's 2.4-liter Tigershark with MultiAir cranks out 184 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of twist. The engines can be backed by a 6-speed manual transmission or available 6-speed automatic – a conventional unit with SportShift for the 2.0-liter/2.4-liter models – or a 1.4-liter-specific dual dry clutch automatic transmission.
Dodge Dart SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited:
160 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/36 mpg (manual), 24/34 mpg (automatic)
Standard in Dodge Dart Aero/Optional in Dart SXT, Rallye, Limited:
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4
160 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/39 mpg (manual), 27/37 mpg (automatic)
Aero: 28/41 mpg (manual), 28/40 mpg (automatic)
Dodge Dart GT:
184 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 mpg (manual), 24/34 mpg (automatic)
The 2013 Dodge Dart opens under $17,000 with the expected high-volume SXT starting below $19,000 and the top-line GT commanding slightly under $22,000. Those figures put this new Dodge 4-door in the sweet spot of the compact segment: less than the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla, but modestly above the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda Mazda3. Although projected residuals of the Dodge Dart trail those of segment leaders like the Accord, Corolla and Elantra, the lineup does sit comfortably in mid-pack. Given Dodge's current upward trending in overall retained value and several segment-exclusive features, it's possible the Dart could exceed expectations in the long run.