The 2013 Dodge Dart is set to be one of 2012's most significant new releases.
Replacing the underperforming Dodge Caliber, the new Dart should give Dodge its strongest compact ever and provide tough competition for Ford's Focus and Chevrolet's Cruze - and now we have all the details.
If you've been following our previous stories here at Green Car Reports, you'll know the Dart is hitting the market with a well-proven platform, based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta sold in Europe.
It's a very different car on the outside though, looking more like a scaled-down Charger than an Italian hatchback, and much more of a successor to the popular Neon than Dodge could deliver under Daimler ownership. The Dart has an aggressive snout with the familiar Dodge crosshairs, and the rear lights echo those you'll see on the Charger. The cab-forward profile has strong links to the Neon.
Inside it's worlds away from its Neon and Caliber predecessors, and again, very different to its Alfa Romeo twin. A driver-focused instrument panel and center console sweep around the cabin, with a distinctive red "Racetrack" lit stripe encircling the dash. The seats look comfortable and well-bolstered and the whole interior seems satisfyingly high quality.
It's certainly more Dodge than Alfa Romeo inside or out, but under the hood is where the Fiat Group's real contribution lies.
The Dart's mid-range engine is the same 1.4-liter, four-cylinder, "MultiAir" engine you'll find in Alfa's finest. The small capacity suggests small performance, but with a turbocharger and clever induction technology, the MultiAir puts out 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Not only will this provide sprightly performance, but a 40mpg highway rating is also on the cards, matching Dodge's rivals.
2013 Dodge Dart
Also powering the Dart will be an entry-level 160-horsepower, 145 lb-ft 2.0-liter and a 2.4-liter, 184-horsepower four-cylinder. Both get a new name - Tiger Shark - but they're essentially re-worked versions of the engines found in the Caliber. Both are now more fuel-efficient, and the 2.4-liter also gets Fiat's clever MultiAir technology.
Transmission options include a six-speed manual, a six-speed automatic and a six-speed dual-clutch, expected to see service in the efficient 1.4 turbo version to improve economy. A relatively flat floorpan and a grille-shutter system at the front further improve aerodynamics for even greater mileage.
Safety and equipment
This is one well-specified compact. Ten airbags are standard in the Dart, as are a backup camera, parking assist, hill-start assist, rainy brake support and brake assist. Blind-spot monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection are optional.
The Dart also gets keyless entry, LED tail-lamps, a reconfigurable TFT display and a heated steering wheel for those chilly mornings. A vast range of trim levels and option packages will also be available.
For further information on the Dart's range of options and technical details, head over to The Car Connection.
The 2013 Dodge Dart is shaping up to be one of the company's most complete cars in years. With a 160-horsepower, 40mpg variant headlining the range, it's set to be a car you can buy with your head, as well as your heart.