With a name resurrected from the 1970s and now with an Italian twist, the new Dodge Dart made its production debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year. Gone are the old round headlights, long hood and signature boxy shapes of the '60s and '70s. Instead, the 2013 Dodge Dart sports a fluid silhouette, sculpted front end and cues such as LED tail lamps reminiscent of more expensive sport compact cars.
A true collaboration between Chrysler and Italian parent company Fiat, the Dart uses the chassis found on the recently introduced Alfa Romeo Giulietta, but with wider tracks.
Three all-new engines power the new Dart including a 2.0-liter Tigershark four-cylinder that makes 160 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. An optional Fiat engine, which Chrysler expects to get an EPA fuel economy rating of 40 miles per gallon in Combined city and highway driving, is a 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo, also rated at 160 hp, with a healthy 184 lb-ft of torque. A 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir four-cylinder puts out 184 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. A turbo 2.4 SRT4 version should launch by next year.
Every trim and engine choice will be available with a 6-speed manual transmission. The two Tigershark engines can be mated to a 6-speed automatic, while the turbo will be available with a 6-speed dual-dry clutch transmission (DDCT) for fast shifting and sportier performance. Insiders say the Dart will eventually get Chrysler's 9-speed automatic for even further fuel savings, but it might be a year or two away.
The 2013 Dodge Dart's suspension uses MacPherson struts in front and a two-link in the rear. Although it shares parts with the Alfa, Chrysler execs say the Dart's ride was softened for more universal appeal.
Dodge is betting that customization will be a big part of the Dart's appeal. The sport compact will reportedly be available in 100,00 combinations between multiple trim levels, exterior colors, wheel choices, interior options and Mopar aftermarket accessories. At launch the Dart will be available in five trims: the base SE, SXT, Ralley, Limited and RT. Standard on all trims is a reconfigurable digital instrument panel. Other features either standard or optional depending on trim level include Bluetooth, power accessories, dual-zone climate control, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
In addition, a downloadable smartphone app will allow drivers to unlock doors, remote start the car, receive maintenance updates, find their car in a parking lot, or install parental controls in case a leadfoot teenager (or friend) borrows the car for the night.
Standard safety features include 10 standard airbags, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, stability control and hill-start assist. Optional equipment includes a backup camera, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-path detection system, which alerts the driver if a car or person is crossing behind them.
The 2013 Dodge Dart will hit showrooms in late spring of 2012 with a starting price of $15,995, according to Dodge.