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Ralph Gilles confirmed an AWD version of the Dart, and many expected a CNG Dart for fleets; neither made it to production, much less the awaited SRT4.
The 2013-2016 Dodge Dart compact car was a sedan with Dodge driver-facing systems, a Mopar-tuned version of an Alfa Romeo body and suspension, and Chrysler and Fiat engines with Fiat and Hyundai transmissions, all made in Illinois. Fiat made a version of the Dart, with a cheaper suspension, as the Viaggio, outside North America; but the Dodge Dart itself was killed off in September 2016.
The car was reasonably priced, quiet (except in Aero form), and sporty, with good interior space, flashy tech features, and a balance of economy and acceleration. It was a foot longer and two inches wider than the Giulietta; compared with other cars in its class, the Dart had the longest wheelbase, front track, length, width, and greenhouse “footprint.”
For 2016, the final year, a new sport-appearance hood was added to SXT Rallye or Blacktop and GT; the SE Rallye added 17 inch gray alumnum wheels and a “blackened” look; the Blacktop package was available on Dart GT, along with standard 18 inch black wheels and optional glossy-black ten-spoke wheels. New colors were TorRed and Go Mango. The base price was set at $17,690 including destination.
Need an easier way to get the wheels on? Try these “line-up” pins.
For 2015, an SE air conditioning/power package cost $775. The SXT got new 16 inch aluminum wheels. Buyers could get a black with red cloth interior on Blacktops; and there were three new colors, “Laser Blue,” “Vitamin C,” and “Passion Red.” Dart SE started at $17,490; the top end Limited was $23,990, the Aero was $20,990, and the GT was $21,990.
For 2014, the 2.4 liter engine was standard on every Dart except SE (2.0) and Aero (1.4). In all cars but GT, the 2.4 had better highway mileage than the automatic 2.0, and matched the stick-shift 2.0. The seats were redesigned. For details, see our full 2014 cars page or our 2013-2014 Dodge Dart specifications/comparisons page.
The 41-mpg (highway) SXT-based Dodge Dart Aero uses a turbocharged 1.4 liter Fiat engine (160 hp, 184 lb-ft) with low-rolling-resistance tires, weight reductions, and better aerodynamics.
The new Dodge Dart, like the original, was a relatively upmarket compact car, selling at a small premium. Reid Bigland, CEO of Dodge, said the name Dart was chosen because “we showed [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.
The Dodge Dart started full production in April 2012, filling in a gap left by the Neon, which was also made in the Belvidere plant. The full-width tail-lamp accentuateed 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).
The Dodge Dart spent more than 600 hours of development time in Chrysler’s 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 was 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 came with the active grille and underbody panels.
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 2013-2015 Dart used Chrysler and Fiat engines; it had MacPherson struts up front, and a bi-link suspension in back, both in aluminum cradles. The Dart had a Fiat six-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission, a manual version of that transmission, and a “PowerTech” six speed which was sourced from Hyundai.
The voice recognition system allowed the driver to choose between brief and detailed responses, a boon to the impatient. (The fancy dash and tail-lights both started as options on SXT; the full-width tail-lights were standard with Aero).
The Dart’s headlamps are projector versions while tail lamps are light-emitting diodes (LED) for compressed, sleeker and wider looking graphic shapes. HIDs were optional for a few hundred dollars.
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 had ten standard airbags, unsurpassed in the segment. The 2013 Dodge Dart was the only car in its class to offer blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection. See Dodge Dart quality and safety.
Allpar was able to briefly test a Dodge Dart GT around the track and on a handling course. When we took it out, the car felt confident and sure, handling sharp turns at high speeds without fuss or squealing tires.
Taking curves at the same speeds, Dart GT felt much lighter and better balanced than even the high-end Grand Cherokee SRT8; while the Dart’s actual road-holding is probably not quite as good as the high-performance SUV, the Grand Cherokee felt heavier, while Dart seemed to take the turns in stride. As with all Darts (and the Grand Cherokee), the interior was very quiet.
When it came to acceleration, there was no mistaking the difference between the SRT cars and the Dart. While the engine provided some instant throttle response, when working through the automatic transmission, there was no possibility of mistaking the two. Dart moved forward slowly, the transmission downshifted, and Dart moved forward with more authority; but despite the bigger engine, the automatic Dart GT was no pocket rocket.
Part of the issue may be the soft-shifting six-speed. With added refinement (sound insulation, confident suspension, smooth shifting, gradual torque onset) comes the loss of “acceleration feel,” which is why a Fiat 500 Abarth feels faster than a Lexus LS 500 when the reverse is true.
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