Detroit Auto Show: 2013 Dodge Dart

January 11, 2012

Little more than a month after announcing the name and some teaser shots of its all-new compact sedan, Chrysler’s 2013 Dodge Dart shows off the real deal at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

As we reported previously, this may be Chrysler’s most important car in decades. The fact that the Dart name resurfaces isn’t just a coincidence, either. Digging into the past for a name that resonates with consumers and attaching it to a stylish, fuel-efficient and safe new product today is bound to attract some interest.

Chrysler says the target market for the 2013 Dodge Dart is wide, ranging from millennials, young professionals likely buying their first car, to empty-nesters, those with active lifestyles who appreciate good value but don’t want to sacrifice quality and amenities in their choice of vehicle.

There’s a lot to like in the new five-passenger small sedan. Here are some of the highlights.

Styling

The front and rear of the 2013 Dodge Dart shows design influences from two other largerDodge sedans, the Avenger (front) and the Charger-inspired racetrack full-width LED taillamps. The Dart also sports dual exhausts, a class exclusive. Chrysler has said that this new Dart “offers a special blend of style, performance and innovation” that’s similar to the Dart of the late 1960s.

The Dart is also the first Chrysler Group vehicle built on Fiat Group architecture known as Compact U.S. Wide or CUS-wide. Infusing the new sedan with Alfa Romeo DNA, says the automaker, translates into a “fun-to-drive” car when you look at it.

Available in five trims, SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T, the 2013 Dodge Dart will be built at Chrysler’s Belvidere, Illinois, assembly plant with production beginning in the second quarter of 2012.

Interior

Designers spent a lot of time crafting the interior, with a special emphasis on the driver-centric layout that puts all the controls within easy reach. Customizable displays, comfortable seats and a spacious interior are other highlights of the Dart. Although classified as a compact, Chrysler says the Dart is as spacious inside as amid-size sedan, offering class-leading front and rear hip and shoulder room at 54.8/52.6 inches and 58.2/56.1 inches, respectively. Trunk storage capacity is 13.1 cubic feet.

Racetrack lighting, a glovebox that stores an iPad, auxiliary jacks in the center console, illuminated cup holders and ambient lighting throughout the vehicle are other Dart features designed to please consumers. Also noteworthy is the customizable gauge cluster display and the optional Uconnect Touch 8.4-inch touchscreen media center, the largest touchscreen in its class.

Performance

Customers have a choice of three four-cylinder engines and three transmissions in the front-wheel drive 2013 Dodge Dart. Engines include the 160-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder (standard in SE, SXT, Rallye and Limited), a 160-horsepower 1.4-liter intercooled turbo four (optional in SE, SXT, Rallye and Limited), and a new 184-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder standard in the Dart R/T.

Transmissions include a six-speed manual, six-speed automatic and six-speed dual dry clutch (DDCT).

An active grille shutter system, the first on a Dodge product, and an integrated rear spoiler add to the Dart’s efficient aerodynamics.

Safety                                                                                                                                  

Standard safety features on the 2013 Dodge Dart include 10 airbags, four-wheel, four-channel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control, traction control, brake assist, ready alert braking, rain brake support, electronic roll mitigation, trailer sway assist and more.

Optional safety features include Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Path Detection, rear backup camera and rear park assist.

Competition for the new Dart is likely to be fierce, coming from established segment sales leaders including the Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra andFord Focus, numbers one through five, respectively, in 2011 compact car calendar year sales. The Corolla, Cruze and Civic each sold well over 200,000 vehicles last year, totaling 693,226 among the three.

For more on the 2013 Dodge Dart, see coverage from the Detroit Auto Show in our sister publication TheCarConnection.

(c) 2012, High Point Media.

Detroit shows its stuff: The North American International Auto Show opened Jan. 7 in Detroit. With all three of the big U.S. automakers in the black, optimism abounds.

Revving up in Tokyo: The 42nd Tokyo Motor Show is open to the general public. Here’s a look at this year’s collection of futuristic concept cars and ready-to-roll production models.

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