2013 Dodge Dart is based on Alfa Romeo's sporty Giulietta.
Dadís white í64 Dodge Dart wagon, with red upholstery, gleaming
on a summer day in the driveway. It was his first wagon, and we were
all thrilled to pile into it for a trip to the Jersey Shore.
just four years earlier, the Dart had already seen some radical
changes. It began as a full-size car and by í64 was scaled down to
a midsize. By 1969, the Dart got tougher, joining the muscle car
crowd with a GTS model powered by a 440.
37 years: The Dart nameplate is resurrected by Chrysler/Fiat, ready
to do battle in the competitive compact segment. It is not a
midsize. It is not muscle-bound. And, in the early going, it has not
done well on the sales graph ó it has struggled against the likes
of Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
Still, I like
the young Dartís chances. It is surprisingly frisky, has good
acceleration with the turbocharged engine and is quite agile on the
Well, wait a
minute. Since it is based on the sporty Alfa Romeo Giulietta, maybe
all this shouldnít be such a surprise. Thereís a lot to like
inside, too, with quality materials used throughout ó but more on
Know that this
is not your fatherís (grandfatherís?) Dodge Dart. They took a
Giulietta, widened its track and stretched it an entire foot. It has
a smirky front end with sweeping headlamps that are the biggest youíll
find on a Dodge. And across-the-rear taillights surely will be
compared to the Dodge Charger.
Power bears no
connection to your fatherís Dart, either, not that anyone who
remembers the famous slant-6 would register a complaint about it.
around, though, the front-wheel-drive Dart offers an optional
1.4-liter turbocharged engine thatís good for 160 horsepower and
an impressive 184 pound-feet of torque. With the manual tranny, itíll
go 0-60 in around 8.3 seconds, among the quickest in its class.
That is the
engine to get, and Iím guessing most will. The base 2.0-liter
engine is rather lackluster, harnesses the same 160 horses but
manages only 148 pound-feet of torque. That will cost 1.6 seconds in
the 0-60 figure, which makes it one of the slowest in its segment,
according to Edmundsí testing.
And get this:
The swifter choice gets the better mileage: 27 city, 37 highway for
a combined average fuel economy of 31 mpg with the automatic. The
2.0 comes in at 24 city, 34 highway and 27 combined. No-brainer,
sport-driven, Dart R/T provides a 2.4-liter engine that produces 184
hp and 171 pound-feet of torque.
The Alfa DNA
is apparent on the road as the Dart offers an eager performance with
good steering response and a nimble feel. A 6-speed automatic tranny
shifts smoothly and on cue.
On the open
road, the ride is nicely composed; the MacPherson struts with
gas-charged shocks up front and a multilink system in the rear
discipline all the bad boys on the pavement. The Dart, essentially,
drives bigger than it is.
Dart feels like a pricier car. Most of the materials look and feel
richer than they should in this segment. And Dodge offers a
multitude of combinations in fabric and interior colors.
The dash is
clean, attractive and well organized. One should definitely opt for
the 8.4-inch touch screen that accesses entertainment functions and
navigation. Comprehensible menus and nice, big touch buttons make it
a breeze to wade through.
comfortable, and legroom is adequate in the front, substantial in
the rear. A cavernous glove box is unheard of in this segment, but
by the way, is not so easy to define. Some will call it a compact,
others say it borders on a midsize. Trunk space ó at 13.1 cubic
feet ó is not up to snuff for a midsize; for a compact, itís
competitive with the class.
gets traction and stability control, air bags in front and rear plus
side-curtain and front knee air bags. Optional: rearview camera and
There are five
trim levels. The base SE is really base ó no air-conditioning,
even, and steel wheels. But it does have power windows and
tilt/telescoping wheel, so if youíre looking strictly for economy,
thatís the way to go.
The SXT adds
alloy wheels, six-speaker sound and upgraded instrument panel. Next,
the Rallye sports it up with fog lamps, snazzier trim inside and
out, and a leather-wrapped wheel.
gets more refined with six-way power seats and power lumbar
adjustment and Bluetooth. An R/T gets 18-inch wheels and more
horses. A Technology group of options can be added to both the
Limited and R/.T, and features automatic wipers and headlamps, rear
parking assist and the blind-spot warning.
And a Premium
group of options adds leather and heated seats.
So, no, this
is not Dadís í64 Dart. Iím reasonably certain his did not
offer the UConnect Touch Multimedia Center with iPod interface. It
is Dodgeís Alfa-based entry into the small-car segment, and itís
ready to dance with the champions from Honda, Toyota and Mazda.
tested, including destination charge: $24,965