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2013 Dodge Dart review: A classic American auto made new

June 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Though its name comes from the automotive past, the 2013 Dodge Dart is certainly sleek and has a nice modern design. No, this not your grandfather's Dart, or your father's or your uncle's.

Dodge built millions of them from the early 1960s through the mid 1970s. At a base price of $15,995, the new Dart is a whole new ballgame from the Italian side of Chrysler. European road manners with a classic American name, tailored a bit for modern tastes.

"It's built off of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform, so when you get behind the wheel of the Dart, you have a very European rigid feel to the suspension," said Reid Bigland, Dodge's CEO.

The most notable part of the new styling is the sleek taillights that look like the ones on the bigger Dodge Charger.

Inside, there's lots of room, though it's not quite as roomy for taller folks as the Chevrolet Cruze. But in the ultra-competitive compact segment of today, it measures up well against the competition. Buyers in that segment want fuel economy, too. The Dart's mileage runs from 25 city to 39 highway, depending on configuration.

Back in the day part of the Dart's appeal was its absolute simplicity. Today's Dart is thoroughly modern, both under the hood and inside because old school simplicity doesn't cut it anymore.

Drivers today want to be connected and have easy access to controls at their fingertips. The Dart's optional center LCD screen is downright huge and let's occupants adjust things without having to look for tiny buttons or icons.

As for the technology under the hood, there's nothing too exciting from the base two-liter, four-cylinder engine. Its 160 horsepower is adequate, though the car can feel pokey in traffic. There's a smaller turbo engine with the same power that's mainly tuned for fuel economy. A larger turbo engine with more power will come along later in the year.

As it sits right now, the Dart should be a winner for Dodge. It gives Chrysler a much-needed small sedan for its lineup, and it recycles a popular model name from years past.


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