2013 Dodge Dart: the new compact car with the classic name
Built with a mix of Chrysler and Fiat/Alfa components and designs, the 2013 Dodge Dart compact car is a sedan with Dodge driver-facing systems, a Mopar-tuned version of an Alfa Romeo suspension, and a mix of Chrysler and Fiat engines with Fiat and Hyundai transmissions. The car is, to say the least, a joint effort; the Hyundai transmissions and all engines are made in the US, with Fiat transmissions sent in from Italy (Chrysler had no current automatics that would fit). Everything is assembled in Belvedere, Illinois. [Gas mileage figures are on our Specs/Comparison page.] Ironically, Fiat sells a version of the Dart, with a cheaper suspension, as the Fiat Viaggio.
Ralph Gilles has confirmed an AWD version of the Dart, and an SRT is expected as a late arrival. So is a CNG Dart for fleets.
The result is a reasonably priced, quiet, and sporty car with a good interior space, numerous features, a flashy dashboard, and a good balance of economy and acceleration, with the base engine rated at 160 hp. It is a foot longer and two inches wider than the Giulietta, with a stronger base engine, and costs less.
Quality and durability were both definite priorities from the start of the program through to production; quality ratings on the Fiat 500 built in Mexico have been very high, a good indication that the Dart will also be satisfactory.
Compared with other cars in its class, the Dart has the longest wheelbase, front track, length, width, and greenhouse “footprint.” Dart also has the “most aggressive tumblehome,” according to Dodge.
The 2013 Dodge Dart will fulfill the basic mission of the original: to be a relatively upmarket compact car, selling at a small premium but delivering a better driver experience than its competitors. It would fulfill that mission even without the numerous “not normal on compact cars” features. According to Reid Bigland, CEO of Dodge, the name Dart was chosen because:
... we showed them [people under 35] pictures of the 2013 Dart with the aggressive aero, the look, the sportiness, and asked them which names they thought fit best. Dart was the overwhelming bulls-eye. These people weren’t very familiar with the 1960-1976 Dart. They were just looking at Dart for matching the design and the aero of the current car.
Those older than 45 had positive memories of the original Dart, as well.
Dodge Dart SE will have a base price of $16,000; the SE does not include the fancy 7” configurable display, the 8.4” touch screen, or the LED taillights, but are standard on the Limited and GT, and optional on SXT and Rallye.
The Dodge Dart, set for full production in April 2012, will finally fill in a gap left by the Neon, which was also made in the Belvedere plant. The same basic architecture will spawn at least one crossover and probably a hatchback.
The full-width tail-lamp accentuates the Dart’s width, using 152 indirectly glowing LEDs through an internal lens that creates a fractal glass appearance (it’s not available on all trim lines). Both front and rear of the car are rounded, with virtually no corners.
The Dodge Dart spent more than 600 hours of development time in Chrysler’s state-of-the-art aero acoustic wind tunnel, and engineers and designers worked together to optimize the design, adding extra seals in some places, changing shapes, and redirecting air as needed. Designers optimized the car’s front end for smooth airflow; examples include the notch angle at the rear of the car, the shape of the rear taillamp applique, the mirrors, and the rear corners.
The Dart is the first Dodge car to employ an active grille shutter system, which closes the airflow through the lower intake when cooling is least needed, reducing drag roughly 3 to 5 percent. Coolant temperature and speed determine whether the shutter is open or closed. Segment-exclusive panels cover 90% of the underbody, cutting road noise and reducing wind drag. There are openings for maintenance (the oil change opening does not come off, so oil changers can’t easily lose it); the panels are held on by SAE J-429 medium carbon steel bolts. Every Dart except SE will come with the active grille and underbody panels, and it will be optional on SE.
Underbody treatments, including a lower radiator close out panel, front and rear tire spats, an engine belly pan, two mid-floor belly pans, a center diffuser and outboard diffusers, collectively reduce aerodynamic drag by 7 percent.
The 2013 Dart uses Chrysler and Fiat engines (at 160 and 184 hp, with varying torque), with rumored optional all wheel drive coming; it has MacPherson struts up front, and a bilink suspension in back, both in aluminum cradles. The rumored ZF nine-speed automatic might be a late arrival; the Dart will debut with a Fiat six-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission, a manual version of that transmission, and a “PowerTech” six speed which is sourced from Hyundai.
Pricing: including destination, the 2013 Dodge Dart, at launch, was sold in five lines, starting at $16,790 (all our prices include destination) list U.S. price. All the cars had a standard six-speed manual transmission; the automatic was either a Hyundai six-speed automatic or a six-speed Fiat dual-clutch (with the 1.4 engine). All, including Dart SE, came with ten airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with assist, stability and traction control, LED taillamps, power windows, and CD player. The SE came with "denim" cloth seats and six-way manual driver's seat.
Moving up to Dart SXT ($18,790) added 17-inch aluminum wheels, power body-color mirrors, power locks, remote and alarm, six speakers, 60/40 folding rear seat, sliding armrest, and filtered air conditioning. The SXT model allows buyers to get a wide range of options, including the 8.4 inch touch-screen stereo which is not available on SE; other options include 500-watt sound system and rear backup camera. Dart SXT (and all other models but SE) comes with the active grille shutters (for noise reduction and gas mileage) and underbody covers, which are optional on SE.
The Rallye model ($19,790) added the black bumper and "sporty" colors -- black and light gray, dark and light gray, black and red, and dark gray with "citrus peel." The Rallye has a blackened look with black headlamp bezels, projector fog lamps, integrated dual exhaust, leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise, steering-wheel audio controls, and trip computer.
The Limited ($20,790) added to SXT a standard painted bumper, 8.4 inch touch screen stereo with rear backup camera, reconfigurable gauge display, floating island bezel, bright grille and handles, ten way power driver's seat, automatic headlights, and premium stitching. It also opens the door to options such as leather seats, heated steering wheel, and rear cross path detection.
Dart GT ($21,990) looks like Rallye, but has the 2.4 liter Tiger Shark engine with 184 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic (with AutoStick). It adds 18 inch wheels, sport suspension with frequency-sensing shocks, unique front fascia with more black, bright exhaust tips, premium leather seats, dual-zone temperature control, heated seats and heated steering wheel, and the ability to order other options such as HID headlamps.
All wheel drive models will be announced later; and an SRT4 is expected but not guaranteed.
The reliable source oh2o wrote that the new Dodge Dart will be well equipped. SE (base) will get 16 inch wheels, and SXT and Limited going to 17” wheels. There will be a Rallye option for the SXT and, in total, six different wheel options along with the three engines and three transmissions. This has been confirmed. Rain sensing wipers appear to be another option, albeit unannounced, along with remote start (which can include turning on the heated seats and heated steering wheel). The voice recognition system allows the driver to choose between brief and detailed responses, a boon to the impatient. (The fancy dash and tail-lights both start as options on SXT).
According to PhantomSpazz, an Eco model, with 40 mpg, is slated for late arrival; he also said that base pricing would not be far above the Fiat 500, which starts at $16,000. He was right about the pricing; so the Eco may be on its way.
The GT version, we’re told, will handle like a go-kart, despite the car’s size and weight.
The Dart’s headlamps are projector versions while tail lamps are light-emitting diodes (LED) for compressed, sleeker and wider looking graphic shapes.
Glossy Piano Black paint-in-mold finishes, versus matte or mold-in-color (MIC) Black, is used on all models but is most predominant on the Rallye and GT models. Dodge’s “Hyper Black” finish is exclusive to performance models, such as the GT and on the Rallye and GT wheels.
The 2013 Dodge Dart was built with 68% high-strength steel; it has ten standard airbags, unsurpassed in the segment. The 2013 Dodge Dart is the only car in its class to offer blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection. See Dodge Dart quality and safety.