Dodge Dart (2013)

CARBARN | Dodge Dart (2013) | The Dart starts production in the second quarter of 2012, initially with two engines: the so-called “Tigershark” 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder and a 160-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged and intercooled four similar to the one found in the Fiat 500 Abarth. There’s no word yet on a hopped-up SRT4 model (or even a Swinger variant for that matter) Both the 1.4- and the 2.4-liter powerplants employ MultiAir technology, although the latter features the slightly revised MultiAir 2 system.  The all-aluminum 2.0-liter is standard and the iron-block/aluminum-head 1.4-liter turbo is optional on the Dart SE, SXT, Rallye, and Limited models. Fuel-economy ratings have not been released.

The standard transmission bolted to all three engines is a six-speed manual designed and built by Fiat Powertrain. The Chrysler Group’s first dual-clutch automatic a six-speed unit is available only with the 1.4-liter turbo. A regular-style six-speed automatic is an option with all three engines.  The steering column tilts and telescopes, and preliminary results peg the turning circle at 38.1 feet.

Dodge claims to have spent more than 600 hours in the wind tunnel pursuing aerodynamic brilliance; one available technology that will help is a wind-cheating grille shutter-system that opens and closes automatically based upon vehicle speed and engine-coolant temperature. Underneath, composite panels pull double duty on the underbody, smoothing out airflow and reducing road noise. Up top, the Dart benefits from a laser-brazed roof seam, an assembly process that eliminates the need for traditional roof-ditch moldings.

Soft-touch materials and ambient interior lighting are said to offer an upscale feel. A variety of technology and luxury gizmos include an 8.4-inch UConnect Touch Media Center with voice recognition, an Alpine audio system, a full-color seven-inch TFT instrument cluster (the tach and speedo are analog), keyless entry and start, and a heated steering wheel. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and ten airbags the most in class come standard, as do electronic stability control and electronic roll mitigation. Vented rotors measure 12.0 by 1.1 inches up front; solid discs in the rear measure a comparatively diminutive 10.4 by 0.4 inches.

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