2013 Dodge Dart Rallye
2013 Dodge Dart Rallye. Click image to enlarge
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Manufacturer’s website:
Dodge Canada

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery:
2013 Dodge Dart

I’ll admit, in my rush to switch the perky Fiat 500 Abarth press car for a Dodge Dart at Chrysler central, I didn’t even look to see which model of Dart I was sitting in before driving off.

It did have a six-speed manual transmission, which was a nice surprise.

Pulling out of the parking lot, my first thought was, “Jeez, this thing is a slug.” It felt slow, ponderous and generally numb. But then again, after the Abarth, just about anything would.

Out on the road, the Dart shows it is tuned for comfort, isolation, and to offer a big-car feel, which in reality it nearly is. While classed as a compact, the interior volume is mid-sized.

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye
2013 Dodge Dart Rallye
2013 Dodge Dart Rallye. Click image to enlarge

This is the first love child of the Chrysler/Fiat union, and it is built on a lengthened and widened Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform—a stylish Golf-fighting hatchback that has been generally well received in Europe. Yet initial impressions suggest most of the European crispness has been dialed out. And the Dart’s styling, both inside and out, is hardly what you’d call adventurous, although I will concede the 152-LED “racetrack” taillights taken from the Dodge Charger are cool. However, in Maximum Steel Metallic paint ($100) this tester pretty much disappeared into the automotive landscape.

But not everybody wants the flash of the Hyundai Elantra or Ford Focus, and the Dart Rallye provides a much calmer (dare I say, more North American?) driving experience. The seats are squishy comfy, the leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good to the hands and the compliant suspension soaks up just about every road irregularity quietly and effortlessly.

I’m not sure how many buyers will go for the manual, but it is a decent unit. The clutch takeup is smooth and quick, and while the shift throws are a bit long, it has a positive feel overall. I’ll bet that metal shift ball won’t be a tactile delight on a February morning, though.

The dash design incorporates the puffy, organic look of yore. The materials are generally up to snuff but the flimsy visor over the gauges feels like it could break off in your hands—certainly not Focus or Golf quality. The big 8.4-inch touch screen (part of the $1,000 Premium Audio Group II that adds USB and back-up camera) looks modern and is functional too.

All Darts come with 10 airbags, a slew of handy storage cubbies, and a massive glove box. Opt for the $295 Popular Equipment Group and you get seat back pockets, overhead console with sunglasses holder, passenger seat in-cushion storage, illuminated cup holders, illuminated vanity mirrors, 12-volt outlet, tire pressure monitor display, and underbody aerodynamic treatment. Seems like good value for three bills.

Bluetooth (Uconnect) sets you back $350 and navigation another $450.

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