Photo Gallery:
2013 Dodge Dart

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
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Well, this week we have something different, the 2013 Dart from Dodge—or Fiat, really. The first compact car to come to North America after the Fiat purchase of the Chrysler brand. The Dart could not have come fast enough for Dodge, the compact car segment is the largest car segment in Canada and the aging and honestly never really good Caliber needed to go.

So what we have here is an Italian-designed platform with some American tuning for the US market. The Dart is based on an Alfa Romeo platform and is powered by Fiat engines—either a 2.0L four cylinder, a 1.4L turbo-four or a 2.4L four-cylinder powerplant; as of this writing, the 2.4 is only available in the R/T model.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
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My tester features the smallest of the engines, the 1.4L that outputs 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque; lucky for me my Rallye edition Dart is equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, which should help increase the fun quotient for the week. Although the journalist side of me really wonders what the dual-clutch six-speed is like as it is most likely the option that will sell in larger numbers.

The Dart starts at a reasonable price, right in line with its competition at $15,995. The Rallye model starts at $19,495, and from what I can gather mine is loaded up with just over $3,000 in extras, bringing the price to around $23,000 plus freight charges.

What’s included in my model? Navigation is the big ticket item after, of course, the upgrade from the standard 2.0L engine to the 1.4L turbo and six-speed manual ($1,300). Add in some nicer wheels, tire pressure monitors, automatic headlamps, and a few other features and we are up to $25K pretty quickly.

This Dart does look well equipped, though, and at first glance I do not see much missing—looking forward to this week’s adventures.

MSRP as tested (including destination): $25,235

For more information on Dodge and the Dart visit Dodge Canada

For even more on this car FOLLOW James on Twitter

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
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When I first got into the Dart I was a little skeptical on the interior for a few reasons. Reason number one was the history that Chrysler/Dodge has with horrible interiors, although I do realize they have improved them over the last few years. I touched and poked and prodded all of the interior bits and everything feels solid, well put together and well made.

The second big thing for me was the lack of buttons and the huge screen dead centre of the dash. Another touchscreen to deflect your attention from driving and distract you was my first thought, but after a few days with it — boy was I ever wrong.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
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Yes, the HVAC controls are mostly controlled by the touchscreen system but the most used controls like the fan speed, temperature, and defrost do have redundant hard buttons mounted below the screen. The same for the radio with a nice large volume knob and tuning knob present for quick, easy, distraction-free control.

With your hand on the shifter, the fan speed and volume knobs are within a finger stretch, which is perfect. If one needs to resort to the touchscreen interface, it employs large, easy-to-read buttons that can be used even when wearing bulky mittens.

The system doesn’t try to be too fancy, and as a result it is extremely responsive, easy to use, and one of the best, if not the best, touchscreen interface I’ve ever used. The Navigation setup is cool, too, allowing you to change the displayed vehicle icon from an arrow to any Chrysler product… I became a Dodge Viper today.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
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Jumped into the car this morning, started her up, and headed onto the highway when I realized that I forgot to mention the one thing that is bothering me about the interior of the Dart. The speedometer and gauges in general are difficult to read as they have jammed in an odd font and some fancy design instead of just clean, easy-to-read white numbers on a black background.

But then I quickly remembered what I like about the Dart on the road. Billed by some as a sporty model, the Dart does have some sporting characteristics. The six-speed shifter is fun to throw from gear to gear and the 1.4L engine has a great sound to it. The engine reminds me very much of the turbo boxer engines in modern Subarus.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews

But a 1.4L engine is a very small engine, as a result there is a lot of turbo lag and if one tries to get any forward motion out of the car under 2,500 rpm you can pretty much forget about it. Keep the revs on boil and the Dart certainly is fun to thrash about in and the handling complements the engine well with responsive brakes and solid feel to the steering.

Out on the highway the Dart does a great job of soaking up the imperfections and wind and road noise are subdued. I felt I was a little harsh on the Santa Fe I had last week as I had just stepped out of a Lexus ES the week before. But after jumping in the Dart I realize that I was correct, the Dart is quieter than the Santa Fe and the ride is certainly more forgiving, a great compromise of sport and compliance.

The backup camera is also a treat, certainly making reversing a cinch as the screen is gigantic—but this is a compact car, so it’s not required as visibility is good all around.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
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Although I did enjoy the Dart this week, not all things are perfect and the weekend brought a few issues to light… Mainly, the headlights are a big issue with the Dart; they are basically useless, I could barely tell if they were on or if it was just my daytime running lights illuminating the road. Other small niggles include: the lighting inside the cabin that is inadequate when travelling dark areas and my major pet peeve — a gigantic LCD screen that doesn’t shut off completely.

Everyone is anxious to find out what kind of fuel economy I averaged over the course of the week I’m sure. My regular routine this week netted me a respectable 7.5 L/100 km with plenty of hot-shoeing about. Could this be better? I suppose it could, with a lot of larger vehicles achieving similar results — but it is respectable.

Overall the 2013 Dodge Dart proved to me that it is a worthy entry into the hotly contested compact car class in Canada. Priced right with the proper options it is not a bad choice at all.

*Rating out of 5:

2013 Dodge Dart
Acceleration Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
Handling Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
Comfort Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
Interior Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
Audio System Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
Gas Mileage Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews
Overall Day by Day Review: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye car test drives dodge daily car reviews

*Rating based on vehicle’s classification
MSRP as tested (including destination): $25,235

For more information on Dodge and the Dart visit Dodge Canada

For even more on this car FOLLOW James on Twitter




About James Bergeron

James Bergeron is an Ottawa-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).