Head-turning quotient: The new Dart is attractive in a wide field of very attractive compact cars, which means that, despite its hyped promotion, the Dart does not really stand out.
Body style/layout: The new Dart is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive, wide-bodied compact economy family sedan based largely on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. It is offered in three basic trim levels — the SE, SXT and Limited. Also offered are two sporty subgroups — the Rallye and R/T.
Engines/transmissions: There are two gasoline engines — a base 16-valve, 2-liter in-line four-cylinder model with variable valve timing (160 horsepower, 148 foot-pounds of torque) and a turbocharged 1.4-liter in-line four (160 horsepower, 184 foot-pounds of torque). The standard transmission is a six-speed manual. A six-speed automatic that can also be operated manually is available.
Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity is 13.1 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 15.8 gallons. Regular gasoline is fine with the 2-liter four-cylinder engine, but premium grade is recommended for best performance in the turbocharged model.
Mileage: Real-world mileage in Darts with 2-liter and turbocharged 1.4-liter gasoline engines averaged 23 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on the highway — not bad, but nothing to cheer about.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear, four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, emergency braking assistance, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability and traction control, and side and head air bags.
Prices: Prices for the base Dodge Dart SE start at $15,995 with a dealer’s invoice price of $15,369. The SXT is $17,995 with a dealer’s invoice price of $17,069. The Dart Rallye with the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine (package 23T in the pricing literature) is $22,670 with a dealer’s invoice price of $21,393. The price includes $3,880 in options, such as the turbocharged engine and onboard navigation with backup camera, and a $795 destination charge.