2013 Dodge Dart at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show

2013dodgedart

  • Competes with: Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla
  • Looks like: At long last, Dodge makes amends for the Caliber
  • Drivetrain: 160-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 160-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder or 184-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder with six-speed manual, six-speed automatic (2.0-liter and 2.4-liter) or six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission(1.4-liter); front-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Spring 2012

Dodge hasn't had a small sedan since the Neon, a car it would just as well have you forget. (In 2001, the Neon still had a three-speed automatic. 'Nuff said.) Well, a compact sedan returns to its lineup late this spring, and Dodge dusted off an old nameplate to christen it. The Dart is based is on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, sold overseas by Chrysler (and Dodge) parent Fiat, and it should match the Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus for style points.

More 2012 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

The Dart eschews the slab-sided styling from the Avenger and Caliber, choosing Elantra-like curves up front and a much smaller grille than the Dodge norm. The Charger's runaround taillights characterize the Dart's rear, but the whole of it wraps atop a curvier shape to the Charger's boxy tail. Longer and wider than most segment rivals, the Dart boasts a lot of interior room — 97.2 cubic feet, beating the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra. The Dart also gets a four-wheel-independent suspension, not the segment norm.

Inside, the Dart's wraparound dash borrows elements from the Charger, with gauges and a center display under the same hood. Uplevel trims have a stitched hood and LED wraparound lighting. An optional 7-inch configurable display sits between the gauges; it can show digital or simulated analog speed, as well as vehicle information, radio settings and more. Chrysler's available UConnect center touch-screen — a whopping 8.4 inches — is the same size as that on the Charger. Dodge will offer five trim levels, from  SE through  R/T, with more than a dozen interior trim and color combinations, seven wheel options and 150-plus Mopar parts.

A 2.0-liter four-cylinder is standard, with a turbo 1.4-liter four-cylinder optional. Both engines make 160 hp, but the smaller engine — equipped with Fiat's MultiAir valve system — has 184 pounds-feet of torque, 39 more pounds-feet than the 2.0-liter. It teams with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, while the 2.0-liter gets a conventional six-speed auto. A six-speed manual is also available with either motor. Expect the 1.4-liter to be the fuel-economy leader, though figures are pending. The Dart R/T, meanwhile, gets a 2.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder that's good for 184 hp and 171 pounds-feet of torque; it works with a six-speed automatic or manual.

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Comments 

George

When does the ZF 9 speed automatic come, 2013.5 or 2014?

sheth

dodge hasn't said yet, but Im thinking late 2012. This is a very compelling entry into the compact segment. Honda may want to study this thing as they work on their 2013 update for the civic. The styling and power and features are potentially class leading.

Belly

Its clearly going to be a class leader, no one should even be surprised. If they are, they must be a fool. Doesn't even matter if it gets 15 mpg or costs 40K and goes 0-60 in 2 minutes... or even if Chrysler or Fiat have had major quality issues... Oh whoa wait, its not a GM... but it will definitely beat the class leading Corolla or any other foreign car though... just because I think it looks good and has an engine with a horsepower rating.

Jayesh patel

Very cute

jett1000

It has that shrunken charger look to it, which is a good thing, but it also has that alfa influence going, and it looks really good. Soon, the Caliber, like the Neon and the Saturn Ion, will be a distant, bad memory. Good work on this, Dodge.

Nic

Love it. The rear is kind of akin to the Maserati Gran Turismo.

Peppy

Looks great! One mistake in your article though. The Neon had the 4spd in 2001. For the 2000 model year it had the 3spd due to them not having the cooling issue fixed for the 4spd.

Peppy

Oops, sorry. No mistake. It was my mistake. I could of sworn the 2001 Neons had the 4spd's. Oh well sorry.

Martin from Reading, England.

Is it an Italian-made, badge-engineered Alfa Romeo, or an actual Dodge, made in USA (or CDN, or MX)? Whatever, it looks like a class-leader: unusual for Chrysler/Dodge!

sheth

Im not sure why they need three engines in this car, but choice never hurts I guess. The features surpass everything in the segment except the Focus. Hard to see how this isnt going to be a hit. Will it win any comparison tests? Thats another story. We will have to hear about how it lacks the reputation for quality enjoyed by its Japanese rivals and then of course we will be told CR isn't too crazy about the car or its projected reliability, etc.

Al

This is one of the nicest looking Dodge vehicles I've ever seen. Let's hope that it feels as nice as it looks, and doesn't weigh more than it's engine choices can pull comfortably.

Cap'n Jon

It looks quite nice, mostly due to it's Alfa influence. What I would really like to see is a two door version. A nice sporty coupe with that interior would be sweet!

George

The 2.0 is the cheapest engine.
Usually a 6 speed dry double clutch doesn't work for the US market, but this seems to be the highest power application of a 6 speed dry double clutch. (until the Veloster turbo)
How much does this weigh? and the size, this seems a half size larger than Civic, Elantra, Corolla, Focus.

Ian

I hope they offer a model without the hideous neon red dash/HVAC ring.

Jay

The Elantra and Dart are arguably the best looking compacts on the market right now. If the driving feel matches the overall look and there are no significant reliability issues, they might have a real winner. Also, the storage compartment/first aid kit under the front passenger seat was a great idea.

If these car makers would make the old school cars look like the old school cars I bet they would sell a lot more vehicles. The only one that even mimic's old school is the Challenger!!
make the mustang look like the 65
make the camero look like the 69 or the 70
make the vette look like the 60's or 70's and so one. HELLO???

Amuro Ray

The problem with pictures on small cars is that they very rarely show the true form and shape of the vehicle, when seeing the vehicle in person, especially when all these pictures are photo-shopped.

I remember that the 200 looked stunning in the pictures, but when I drove one (car rental), it was quite a disappointment - the white paint never had that "glow" in it, and the exterior is just not the same exact shape as it is in picture (not as sleek).

George

Turns out this is 500 pounds heavier than the Elantra.
This is not a compact car, this is a mid-size car.

nick

Wonder the 0-60 times for the dart ?

Belly

I will hold off on too many comments on this car until seeing it in person. The styling seems okay, very similar to the Fiat Punto. I am no fan of the eclipse/Hyundai/subaru brz style grille. I think the white one looks best. Otherwise it looks like a small pudgy car that scowls... that kind of aggressive styling on a cheap compact gets laughed at all the time. It is nice to see Chrysler selling a small car though.

I wonder if anyone will complain that by buying this car the corporate profits are going overseas.

Billybob2u

I personally have a Neon SRT-4 and I would be first inline for one if the upped the ante put 300hp and an AWD system. Give us something that's cheaper than an STI but just as fun. Anyone that says EVO needs to shoot themselves.

robert

what has it got 13 inch tires it looks cheep with those small tires

George

I wonder if the ZF 9 speed auto will replace both automatic transmissions for 2014 MY?
http://www.zf.com/media/media/en/document/corporate_2/products_3/innovation_1/9hp_1/brochure_9hp.pdf

Francis

Once again Chrysler misses the mark as to what we want. Wayove designed and probably priced. Looks like all the rest of the cars coming out. Performance over gas mileage, they just don't get it. Another flop on the way,,,

Nathan

As far as I am concerned the neon should have never went away it had a long run for dodge and was successful. The caliber was a mistake for dodge when it was introduced and I am surprised it lasted as long as what it did! The neon was just more well put together of a car then the caliber ever was. Even though the Dart has some "Alfa" blood in it sure looks like some redisgned neon cues to me. No denying the Neon SRT4 and its success and also the firebreather that it was for the price! I hope to see a SRT4 variant in the Dart!

I have test driven this car twice, and if it weren't for a wife with baby fever, I would have bought it. I'm 6'9" and I fit in this car better than Jeremy Clarksen fits in many of the cars he falls in love with. This really is a magnificent car. Fully loaded Rallye, which is pretty quick with that turbo-charged 42 mpg engine, can be had for under $22k. The interior is obviously European designed because it's gorgeous!!! American car interiors always look like it was designed by a blind 90 year old. Not this car. Overall, this is my favorite looking car for under $35k, it's quick enough to be fun, gets 42 mpg (screw the EPA, go by Popular Mechanic's actual results) and it has a great safety rating for a mid-compact 4-door. This is the BEST car in it's class, period. And it's 51% made in Illinois :-)

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