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2013 Dodge Dart Compact Sedan

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DRIPPING SPRINGS, Tex. — In the hills of Texas near the Austin suburb of Dripping Springs, we’re taking Mt. Gaynor Road to push the throttle on a new made-in-America compact sedan for the Dodge brand whose structure, suspension and steering mechanisms come from Italy’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback through Dodge’s Italian corporate parent, Fiat.

Badged with a vintage nameplate of Dodge’s entry-level vehicle produced from 1960 through 1976, a Dodge Dart of 2013 scoots down the road with strong torque flowing from an optional turbo-charged four-cylinder engine that’s also shared with the Alfa.

Dart’s exterior design features smooth lines flowing over a wedge-shaped body with the canted front hood and raked windshield tipping to the extreme to enhance aerodynamic efficiency.

A chin-forward prow projects Dodge’s signature split-crosshair grille and an aggressive lower fascia housing optional projector-beam foglamps.

Flanks bulge with muscular fenders ringing some nice wheels and the blunted tail treatment seems downright sculptural with a dazzling ring of 152 LED lamps streaking between rear corners.

The concise size of this compact-class sedan allows it to move easily in traffic lanes or slip into tight confines of a parking spot.

Dart’s wheelbase length of nine feet sets up a curt turning diameter around 36 feet so it seems easy to maneuver.

The unibody structure composed primarily of high-strength steel produces a chassis which feels rock solid.

Independent suspension elements consist of front MacPherson struts tuned to minimize camber loss, with coil springs over gas-charged shocks and stabilizer bar, and a rear multi-link arrangement with coil springs, link-type stabilizer bar and gas-charged shocks.

The new Dart also contains many active safety systems designed to keep an alert driver out of harm’s way by avoiding accidents. The equipment includes quick-response electric power steering and four-wheel disc brakes tied to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic brake assist (EBA) and anti-skid devices via the electronic stability control (ESC) system and traction control system (TCS).

Measures for passive passenger safety in the cabin extend from the sturdy safety-cage construction to three-point front seatbelts with shoulder adjustment, backseat restraints with upper and lower anchors to mount a child’s seat, smart multi-stage air bags up front with seat-mounted side air bags fore and aft, front seat knee air bags and curtain-style air bags concealed in headliners above side windows for outboard seats on two rows.

Dodge constructs the front-wheel-drive 2013 Dart with three different four-cylinder engines in five trim designations: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T.

Dart SE the price-leader totes a 2.0-liter four-in-line engine with dual overhead cams (DOHC) and variable valve timing (VVT) to generate 160 hp at 6400 rpm plus torque of 148 lb-ft at 4600 rpm.

The 2.0 four-pack plant links to a six-speed manual transmission, the C635, and scores fuel economy numbers up to 25 miles per gallon (mpg) for city driving and 36 mpg for highway cruising. Three other Dart trims — SXT, Rallye and Limited — also carry the 2.0-four engine as standard and offer optionally an intelligent six-speed electronic automatic, the Powertech 6F24.

Optional power choice for Dart SXT, Rallye and Limited is a 1.4-liter four-in-line engine with single overhead cam (SOHC), turbo-charger and inter-cooler.

The turbo-four, shared with the racy Fiat 500 Abarth, generates 160 hp at 5500 rpm and 184 lb-ft of torque between 2500-4000 rpm. Teamed with the C635 six-speed manual stick, a turbo-powered Dart achieves fuel economy numbers of 27/39 mpg (city/highway), but an optional transmission for the turbo is a six-speed dual dry clutch (DDCT) automatic with manual shift mode.

Dart R/T stocks exclusively a DOHC 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that nets 184 hp at 6250 rpm with torque of 171 lb-ft at 4800 rpm. R/T shifter choices are the C635 six-speed manual or 6F24 six-speed electronic automatic.

Dart’s passenger compartment, padded and insulated, amounts to a comfortable space packed with stylish appointments and premium interior finishes.

The layout consists of two buckets in front of a bench broad enough for three in a pinch but with indented sections for two. Backs of the second-row seat, divided 60/40 into separate sections, fold down to expand the trunk’s cargo capacity to 42.4 cubic feet.

Driver fits in a comfortable bucket which adjusts in multiple directions.

Instruments in the dashboard cluster include round analog gauges with black faces and vivid white lighting, plus a 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) display.

Dart SE the base trim stocks air conditioning, power windows, seats clad in cloth upholstery, a 12-volt outlet and four-speaker AM/FM radio. Upgraded Dart SXT adds premium seat fabric, a front console with sliding armrest, split-folding rear seatback, six-speaker audio kit and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Dodge’s MSRP Dart chart commences at $15,995 for the 2013 Dart SE.


  • Description: Compact 4-door sedan
  • Model options: Dart SE, Dart SXT, Dart Rallye, Dart Limited, Dart R/T
  • Wheelbase: 106.4 inches
  • Overall length: 183.9 inches
  • Engine size:
    • DOHC 2.0-L I4/VVT
    • SOHC 1.4-L I4/TC/IC
    • DOHC 2.4-L I4
  • Transmissions/speeds:
    • 2.0: Manual/6/C635 or Auto/6/6F24
    • 1.4: Manual/6/C635 or Auto/6/DDCT
    • 2.4: Manual/6/C635 or Auto/6/6F24
  • Rear/front drive: FWD
  • Steering: EPS/rack and pinion
  • Braking: Power 4-disc ABS/EBD/EBA/ESC/TCS/TPMS
  • Air bags: 2 (front) 2 (side front) 2 (front knee) 2 (side rear) 4 (side curtain)
  • EPA mileage est.: city/hwy. 25/36 mpg: 2.4-M/6 27/39 mpg: 1.4-M/6
  • MSRP, est.:
    •  $15,995: Dart SE
    • $17,995: Dart SXT
    • $18,995: Dart Rallye
    • $19,995: Dart Limited
    •  $22,495: Dart R/T