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2013 Dodge Dart Overview
Here it comes to save the day…or so Chrysler Corporation hopes for its re-introduced 2013 Dodge Dart. In a return to the compact sedan wars, Chrysler/Dodge has decided to utilize its partnership with Fiat by offering an Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based 5-passenger compact that is your father’s Dart in name only. Sporty looks, a flashy instrument panel, ergonomically pleasing seats and, at least in the higher trims, scads of state-of-the-art techno-features are all expected to adorn this little 4-door. Look for five trims—the base SE, up-ticked SXT, midlevel Rallye, high-end Limited and scene-stealing R/T—to be available beginning about late June or early July, though the R/T may be fashionably later. In any case, now bigger and bolder, and with the Alfa’s 4-wheel independent suspension, decidedly more agile than its forebears, the brand-new Dart is generating more than its share of buzz within auto media circles. Since the original Dodge Dart departed in the Age of Aquarius, it will be interesting to see if the resurgent Chrysler Corporation can make a go of this Fiat-inspired re-run. However, this snazzy little sedan must overcome the likes of Ford’s fabulous Focus and Chevy’s comely Cruz, not to mention such Asian favorites as Hyundai’s surprisingly sophisticated Elantra, Honda’s classic Civic and the always competitive Mazda3 in grabbing a share of the coveted compact car niche.
Part of the 2013 Dart’s preliminary hype has to do with its engine selection. Standard in all trims except the R/T is a 160-hp, 145-lb-ft/torque, 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine. Expect a 6-speed manual transmission to be standard across the (non-R/T) lineup, with a 6-speed automatic as an option. Not a bad little mill, but the 1.4-liter turbocharged I4 that’s available to the SXT, Rallye and Limited is the powerplant that’s making reviewers take notice. Generating the same 160 hp as its standard-issue cousin, the Fiat-inspired MultiAir turbocharger allows this peppy four-banger to put down 185 lb-ft of torque when combined with either the standard 6-speed stick-shift, the optional 6-speed automatic or the available 6-speed auto-manual transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Finally, there’s the 2.4-liter turbocharged I4 that throws out 184 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque and comes only in the Dart R/T. Curiously, this over-achieving I4 is not eligible for the touted 6-speed auto-manual transmission, thus mates with either the standard 6-speed manual or with the available 6-speed automatic. Rumor has it that a 9-speed automatic is slated for the Dart, but not for some time yet.
For the present, bet on front bucket seats and cloth upholstery in the 2013 Dart SE, with split-folding seatbacks bringing up the rear. Also expect 16-inch alloy wheels, as well as sharp looking Charger-esque “racetrack” LED tail lights and projector-beam headlights in this entry-level trim, with power windows, door locks and mirrors providing convenience and, of course, the obligatory air conditioning to keep things cool. A single-CD player with four speakers, meantime, is expected to provide tunes.
The SXT and Rallye should amp up the goodies with 17-inch aluminum wheels, premium cloth upholstery, filtered cabin air, remote keyless entry, premium cloth upholstery, 6 speakers and, for the SXT, body-colored trim accents. The Rallye looks to add standard speed control, as well as black body trim accents and an aero underbody treatment to complement its unique performance-oriented fascia and dual exhaust set.
Expect the high-end Limited and R/T, meantime, to sport such exotics as a standard 8.4-inch touchscreen radio with an SD card slot, 7-inch TFT cluster display, UConnect/Bluetooth hands-free audio and communications, a power-adjustable driver’s seat and, for the R/T, leather-trimmed upholstery. Both trims are additionally expected to sport heated outside mirrors and further upgrades to the exterior trim, grille and front and rear fascia accoutrements. Finally, look for the R/T to flaunt, on top of everything else, standard 18-inch painted aluminum wheels and a sport-tuned suspension with auto-damping shocks.
The SE and SXT should be eligible for many of the items that are standard in the higher trims, while all trims are available with the handy front passenger side in-seat storage nook. SXT and higher trims should be eligible for Garmin navigation with lane guidance, UConnect Touch with a rear-view camera, a power sunroof, upgraded wheels and a 9-speaker, 506-watt premium audio system with satellite radio, all in package form or as standalone options. The top-shelf Limited and R/T once more raise the ante on optional amenities with available rear parking assist, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, remote engine start and a universal remote garage door opener. Finally, look for the R/T to stand alone in offering available 18-inch hyper-black aluminum wheels.
Standard safety equipment aboard the 2013 Dart should be fairly traditional, with 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags and active front headrests. Both the Limited and R/T are expected to feature turn-signal-integrated mirrors, while the SXT and higher trims are again eligible for some extras in the available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection systems, as well as an intrusion alarm system.
by Eric Tallberg
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