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2013 Dodge Dart Rallye Chicagoland Review By Larry Nutson

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye  (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Dodge Dart Rallye

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye
Imported from Detroit

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel (DSC_1130)

The Dart name has been in the Chrysler Group family for some time and has its genesis as a concept car designed by Carrozzeria Ghia that was presented in 1956. It was an aerodynamic wonder, more slippery than anything, hence the name Dart. The Dart name then appeared on production cars, the name being previously used in the Dodge brand from 1960 to 1976.

Fast-forward to today and we now have another Italian partnership and the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart, the first vehicle created from the Fiat and Chrysler hook-up. The Dart of today is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and has been designed by Dodge based on the Fiat Group Compact U.S Wide (CUS-wide) architecture…a platform that will serve as the basis for future C and D segment vehicles.

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye  (select to view enlarged photo)

The Chrysler Group has been deeply in need of a compact car ever since the Neon went away. With today’s significant emphasis on good fuel economy the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The 2013 Dart is available in five trim levels, with three different four-cylinder engines and three transmission choices. Dodge Dart SE starts at $15,995, the Dart SXT is $17,995, the Dart Rallye is $18,995, the Dart Limited is $19,995, and the Dart R/T is $22,495.

My test-car Dart was the Rallye, which is actually an SXT model priced at $17,995 plus a Rallye Group that adds $1,000. Standard equipment includes 17-inch aluminum wheels, power body-color mirrors and door locks, remote keyless entry, six-speakers, security alarm, 60/40 split folding rear seat, sliding armrest, and air conditioning with micron filter. Rallye features include unique black front fascia accents, black headlamp bezels, projector fog lamps, integrated dual exhaust with bright exhaust tips, leather-wrapped steering wheel, speed control, steering wheel audio controls, and a trip computer.

Also equipped were optional Hyper Black wheels ($395) and the 1.4-liter MultiAir® Turbo ($1300) delivering 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Although the standard engine is also rated at 160HP the big difference is in the significantly increased torque, up from 148 lb.-ft. Transmission is a 6-speed manual with a nice silver shift ball to grip. EPA ratings for this powertrain combo are 32 combined mpg, with 27 city mpg and 39 highway mpg. A six-speed dual dry clutch (DDCT) transmission is optional at $1100.

The powertrain is driving through the front wheels. Seating is for five. With overall length just a tad under 184 inches, the Dart makes for a fairly well suited urban/city use car. And, it’s large enough to be comfortable on the highway or for a long road trip. The 13.1 cubic foot trunk is plenty roomy for luggage, groceries or the kid’s sport gear. The 15.8 gallon fuel tank will get you over 500 miles of highway driving. The 2013 Dodge Dart with the Aero package will achieves 41 miles per gallon (mpg) highway fuel economy rating for even longer distances without a fuel stop.

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye (select to view enlarged photo)

Overall exterior and interior design of the Dart is very pleasing with curves and accent lines in all the right places. The low hood makes for good forward vision. On the inside you’ll find lots of room and comfort. The Dart is officially classified by the EPA as a mid-size car, and Chrysler says it has class-leading shoulder room and hip room and more rear seat legroom than some mid-size cars.

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye  (select to view enlarged photo)

The infotainment screen is large and easy to use. I prefer the Dart’s combination of a touch screen along with a couple of rotary knobs for quick audio adjustments. The Dart has a long list of features, many of which were once relegated to luxury segment cars. For example, a heated steering wheel is available.

Handling is very confident with good weight from the electric power steering although a touch more feedback would be nice. Ride is neither too harsh nor too soft and the suspension did a good job of absorbing city-street imperfections. The Dart has a good solid feel.

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye  (select to view enlarged photo)

Choices abound on the Dart. Along with the three engines, three transmissions, and six trim levels, there are seven wheel choices, 12 exterior colors, and 14 interior color and trim combinations. You do the math to figure out how many build combinations there are for the Belvidere, Illinois assembly plant. (See specs on all 2013 Dodge Dart Models below)

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye  (select to view enlarged photo)

All Darts are equipped with a long list of safety features. The Dart received a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, its highest grade. And the Dart was named a 2013 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick. Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive editors named the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart one of their “10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000”.

This Italian-American marriage seems to be off on the right track.

© Larry Nutson