Test Drive: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye

Dodge Fever returns with all-new 2013 Dodge Dart

It seems strange that most manufacturers develop a vehicle, invest in promoting it and building a strong brand equity, only to let it slip away into extinction, and then decide to bring it back in a renewed fashion and format. Cases in point: the Chevy Camaro, Ford Taurus, Dodge Charger and now, the 2013 Dodge Dart, which represents Dodge?s re-entry into the compact market segment.

Dodge fever is sure to be rekindled with the re-introduction of the 2013 Dart, which is based on the Global ?F? platform and showcases the DNA of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The appealing look comes from a fresh ?clean-sheet-of-paper? design, resulting in a four-door sedan that displays the profile of a sports coupe.

The 2013 model Dodge Dart will come in five distinctive levels of trim: the base SE; the SXT; a Rallye model; the Limited; and the soon to come R/T.? Will there be an SRT-4 example reminiscent of the Neon? More than likely, but no official word yet.

Power for all model Darts will be generated by world-class, state-of-the-art, fuel efficient, four-cylinder powerplants that drive the front wheels, but in three different versions: a 2.0-liter Tigershark 4-cylinder that delivers 160 horsepower and 148 pound feet of torque connected to either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission; a 1.4-liter MultiAir? intercooled, turbocharged four that mates to either a 6-speed manual or DDCT automatic transmission; and finally, a 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir? four-banger that pumps out 184 horses along with 171 pound feet of torque coupled with either a 6-speed manual or automatic gearbox. The 1.4-liter MultiAir engine is similar to that powering the Fiat 500.

The SE begins pricing at $15,995., the SXT at $17,995, the Rallye at $18,995, the Limited begins at $19,995, and the R/T, which will be available in the third quarter of this years, will start at $ 22,495. Add $795 Destination and Handling charges for all models.

Back to the appealing style of the 2013 Dart, which sports a design that is timeless in nature. It is boldly athletic and agile in its overall appearance, displaying fluid, smooth flowing lines that deliver a sculpted rather than stamped image. The proportions are exceptionally well balanced and aerodynamic, delivering a clean, dramatic and aero-friendly package. The new Dart represents?a mold-shattering image in the compact sedan marketplace that offers: the longest wheelbase, the widest front track, the longest overall length, the greatest width, the longest? greenhouse footprint and the most aggressive tumblehome. There is a palette of 12 exterior colors to choose from and a selection of 6 wheel and tire combinations from 16-inch wheel covers to 18-inch cast aluminum wheels, depending upon the model.

From the front, the distinctive, modernized version of the iconic ?cross-hair? grille rides above a large front bar and honeycomb mesh lower opening, flanked by wraparound headlamps and sculpted lower foglamp housings. The hood flows into the rising fender curves and rises to meet the sharply raked windshield, which begins the gracefully curved arch of the cabin or greenhouse that slopes down to the short deck. The rear is accented by an integrated deck spoiler lip and split dual exhaust pipes housed in a reverse panel. The LED rear taillamp that stretches across the entire with of the tail makes for a strong visual finishing element.

? The interior is no less impressive with precision craftsmanship and high-tech unseen-in-the-segment features such as the class-exclusive, customizable 7-inch gauge cluster, 8.4-inch Uconnect? touchscreen, heated steering wheel and illuminated floating island bezel in the instrument panel. The sporty interior is highly customizable, offering 14 interior color and trim options. It provides mid-size space in a compact package.

Standard features abound in every trim level, with an impressive menu of available options, including;? the 8.4-inch touchscreen with backup camera, Garmin navigation with Sirius travel link, polished or hyper-Black wheel finishes, Nappe leather, heated seats and steering wheel, blind spot warning, RCP detection, keyless Go and SmartBeam, Remote start, Cruise control, leather wheel and in seat storage, as well as customized interior colors.

During the national press launch, my driving partner and I piloted both a Redline Red SXT powered by the 1.4-liter 160 horsepower / 184 lb.-ft. torque MultiAir? turbo mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox; and a Bright Silver metallic Rallye model with the Tigershark 2.0-liter 160 horse / 148 lb.-ft. torque engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. The SXT as tested price came to $22,565, while the Rallye which we actually spent the most time in came to $22,765.

SUMMARY:? The 2013 Dodge Dart is one sweet four-door sport sedan – okay, admittedly not every model is as sporty as the other, and obviously, when the R/T

becomes available, it will reign supreme in the pecking order. It is a superlative definite cut above the Neon, which it might be considered a replacement for – at least in the market category.

Of the two examples that I experienced, I actually preferred the Rallye model with the Tigershark 2.0-liter engine and automatic transmission. The SXT version didn?t seem to measure up to the level of performance of the Fiat Abarth with which is shared the same basic engine. Admittedly it?s bigger and heavier than the Fiat, but even the exhaust note was lacking.

Both Dart models rode comfortably and handled with agility and preciseness. Obviously both served up the same fresh, appealing good looks, with minor differences in finish details. The Dart is the first Dodge vehicle to use an active grille shutter system that automatically closes off airflow through the lower intake at highway speeds when less cooling is required and aerodynamic drag is more of an issue.

Pricing is most reasonable and enable the consumer to select a model that best suits their tastes, needs and budget. True value packaging is prevalent throughout the model range with equipment and features provided, that in many cases are not even available on many competitive vehicles in the compact sedan class, and all models come with a 5-year / 100,000-mile warranty.

Dodge fever definitely threatens to become an epidemic with the return of the Dart.

SPECIFICATIONS:?Dodge Dart Rallye-?13

Base Price:?????????????? ??????????? $18,995.

Price as Tested: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?$22,765.

Engine Type and Size: ? ? ?2.0-liter Tigershark DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder with variable valve timing and multiport fuel injection.

Horsepower (bhp):??????????? ??????????? 160??????????? @ 6,400??????????? rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.): ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?148??????????? @ 4,600??????????? rpm

Transmission:??????????? ??????????? Six-speed Powertech automatic transaxle.

Drive Train:??????????? Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive.

Suspension:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Front –Independent MacPherson strut, coil spring over ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? gas-charged shock absorbers, stabilizer bar

??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Rear –Multi-link independent with coil springs, link-??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? type stabilizer bar, gas-charged shock absorbers

Brakes:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Power-assisted diaphragm vacuum four-wheel discs ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? (vented front) with ABS, ESC, TC and BA.

Tires:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Continental ContiProContact P225/45 R17 91H ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? mounted on 5-?V?-spoke (10) 17×7.5? Aluminum ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Hyper Black wheels.

Wheelbase:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? 106.4??????????? inches

Length Overall:??????????? ??????????? 183.9??????????? inches

Width:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ? 72.0??????????? inches

Height:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ? 57.7??????????? inches

Curb Weight:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? 3,242??????????? lbs.

Fuel Capacity:??????????? ??????????? ? 15.8 ??????????? gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates:??????????? ?? 25??????????? mpg city / 36??????????? mpg highway M/T – A/T – TBD

Drag Coefficient:??????????? ??????????? 0.285

0 – 60 mph:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Not tested.