2013 Dodge Dart

First Drive

Advocate WHEELS editor

The 2013 Dodge Dart is the first Chrysler vehicle built on a Fiat platform, more specifically the Alfa Romero. Dodge has needed a good compact car for a while, and the surprising little Dart, we
believe, is a “fantastica automobile.”

Our test car this week was in the Limited trim, and it was loaded with standard and optional features you’d expect to find in a car costing a lot more. What about this list of features:

--Smart keyless entry with pushbutton start

--Rear park assist system

-- Automatic high beam headlights

--Rain sensing wipers

--Speed sensing power locks and one-touch power front windows

--Heated seats

-- Heated steering wheel

--Dual zone air

--Power sunroof

--Blind spot and rear cross path detection

--Remote start

--Navigation with an 8.4-inch touchscreen

--Customer configurable 7-inch cluster display

--Uconnect infotainment with SiriusXM radio and real time traffic

--Auto-dimming rear view mirror with microphone

You’d expect an amenity sheet like that would come attached to the window a car costing $30-grand or more. The 2013 Dodge Dart Limited with all the standard and optional features listed above stickers at $25,690, and that includes $795 in freight. The base price for the Limited model is $19,995.

The Dart offers four more trim levels leading up to the top-of-the-line
Limited: SE, SXT, Rallye and R/T. Three 4-cylinder engines are
offered: a 2.0-liter Tigershark engine producing 160 horsepower, a smaller turbocharged 1.4-liter kicking out the same horsepower and a 2.4-liter powerplant that produces 184 horsepower. Rated torque is 148 lb.-ft., 184 lb.-ft. and 174 lb.-ft. respectively.

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

We didn’t find the 2.0-liter engine in our test Dart especially quick, but we found its mileage figures impressive.

The 2.0 engine with the automatic transmission is rated at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

The 1.4-liter turbo engine with the manual transmission promises 27 city and 39 highway mpg.

With its 15.8-gallon fuel tank, our test Dart with the 2.0-liter engine had a highway range of well over 500 miles.

The Dart is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, except the new Dart is longer and wider to suit American drivers.

The Dart is also the first Dodge vehicle to use active grille shutters to close the lower portion at highway speeds, thus improving aerodynamics and mileage. When the grille is shuttered, air flows under and around the car instead of swirling around inside the engine compartment.

The cabin of the Dart is sporty and stylish, with soft touch materials and a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat. The passenger seat adjusts four ways, and both seats are appropriately bolstered for a combination of comfort and support. There is also a leather steering wheel with controls for audio and vehicle functions, and ambient LED interior lighting.

Choices abound when it comes to color, with 12 exterior and 14 interior colors. That means color combinations total, uh…a bunch.

With 10 standard airbags and, according to Dodge, “more than 60 safety and security features,” the Dart gets five stars overall in the government’s safety tests.

It’s also a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.