2013 Dodge Dart
Base price: $16,790 – $23,290
MPG: 27 city/39 highway (1.4-liter, manual six-speed)
- Solid, well-built, fun to drive
- Sporty, fun to drive
- Excellent gas mileage
- Underpowered 2.0-liter engine
- Air conditioning extra on base SE
By Jim Prueter
With its newest offering, Dodge reaches back into its history yet again to find a fitting moniker. Dart, last seen as a 1976 sedan, joins Charger and Challenger in Dodge’s throwback lineup.
The 2013 Dart is the first all-new vehicle resulting from the Fiat-Chrysler collaboration. It thrusts Chrysler back into the fiercely competitive compact car segment with a very good product that replaces Caliber, a cheaply built hatchback that never really caught on.
The Dart is built on the underpinnings of the Fiat-owned Alpha Romeo Giulietta, lengthened by a foot and widened by 2 inches. The resulting four-door compact boasts one of the roomiest interiors in its class.
Stylistically, Dart is curvy, forgoing the muscle-car look of the Charger, save for the track-styled runaround taillights and twin exhaust tips integrated into the rear fascia. The interior is roomy, comfortable, and thoughtfully designed. It looks good and says upscale.
The Giulietta has been highly regarded in Europe for its fantastic handling and terrific driving feel. Chrysler promised that the Dart wouldn’t lose anything in translation but admits to softening the ride just a bit to suit American driving tastes. It drives exceptionally well and is nicely planted with enough feedback and road feel to make driving fun.
Trim levels include SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited, and R/T, and there are three fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engines available with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. All trim levels come standard with 10 airbags.
Overall, the new Dart is sporty, well-refined, and loaded with standard equipment and safety features. It’s one of the best compact sedans we’ve tested and worth a look if you’re shopping for a car in this class.