Dodge resurrects Dart nameplate at Detroit Auto Show
After watching fellow U.S. automakers GM and Ford quickly learn to make world-class compact cars recently, Dodge and parent company Chrysler have joined in on the fun.
The result is the 2013 Dodge Dart. It’s based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a sharp-looking, four-door hatchback sold elsewhere on the planet. This partnership comes to us by way of Fiat, which owns Alfa Romeo and a majority stake in Chrysler. The joys of synergy.
But this isn’t a hatchback, and in fact it bears no resemblance to its European cousin. The Dart is a four-door sedan that will compete with the likes of Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Honda Civic.
Power comes from one of three engines, all of which have four cylinders. The base unit get 160 horsepower from 2.0-liters. Dodge will offer as options a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine also good for 160 horsepower, and a 2.4-liter engine good for 184 horsepower.
Transmission choices include a six-speed manual, a six-speed automatic, and with the turbo engine, a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Expect a fuel-economy rating on at least one of these configurations to hit the 40-miles-per-gallon mark on the highway.
The Dart resurrects a Dodge nameplate not seen in the U.S. since 1976. The company is probably hoping those old enough to remember the moniker do so fondly and those too young to do so will take to the car with fresh eyes that forget the company’s previous and substandard compact offerings like the Caliber.
Styling on the new Dart pulls in a little of the familiar; the wrap-around LED taillights resemble those on Dodge’s current Charger sedan, while the front features the signature ‘cross hair’ grille but dilutes its significance to the car’s aesthetics compared with other Dodge models. The look is unique enough to differentiate the Dart from others in the segment, but not enough to alienate anyone.
The 2012 Dodge Dart will be assembled in the company’s Belvidere, Ill., plant and should go on sale later this year and will start at $15,995.
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