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 a late-arriving, performance-oriented R/T 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. We’ll have to wait until fall to slip behind the wheel of an R/T model, but with more of everything that really matters, it promises to be an even better dynamic experience.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 R/T 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 R/T 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 Dodge Dart models offer impressive standard features that build within the model hierarchy. The base Dart 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 air conditioning, power locks/mirrors, keyless entry, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat and 17-inch alloy wheels. Rallye models sport unique cosmetics, cruise control and a multifunction steering wheel, with the luxury-oriented Dart Limited model adding the floating island dash bezel with UConnect plus econ-enhancing active grille shutters and underbody fairings. The R/T features a 184-horsepower engine, sport suspension, 18-inch alloys, model-specific Nappa leather, dual-zone climate control and a signature LED taillight treatment.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
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)
Optional in Dodge 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)
Dodge Dart R/T:
184 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: TBD/TBD mpg (manual), TBD/TBD mpg (automatic)
The 2013 Dodge Dart will open under $17,000 with the expected high-volume SXT starting below $19,000 and the top-line R/T commanding slightly over $23,000. 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. With sales not starting until June, KBB.com has yet to establish a Fair Purchase Price for the Dart. The same holds true for its projected retained value over time. However, Dodge residuals have been moving up in the past few years and there’s good reason to believe the new Dart will share in that general ascent in brand values as well as from the kind of exclusive features it introduces to the compact segment.