2013 Dodge Dart 1.4 Rallye
2013 Dodge Dart 1.4 Rallye. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site
Dodge Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2013 Dodge Dart

Without having driven the 2013 Dodge Dart back to back with the competition, it’s impossible to say exactly how it stacks up, but having recently completed a monster Compact Car Comparison, we think it’s fair to say that it would land somewhere solidly in the middle, which will be a massive leap forward from the forgettable Caliber, which also suffered from being available only in hatchback form.

We covered the Dart lineup in a First Drive earlier this year, and the base 2.0L engine in the Dart was recently reviewed by Mike Schlee, so the assignment fell to me to evaluate the first engine upgrade, an advanced, small-displacement, turbocharged engine that brought out the magic in the 500 Abarth. A naturally aspirated 2.4L “Tigershark” engine is available only on the top trim R/T. This 1.4L MultiAir could very well be Fiat’s best contribution to Chrysler’s lineup to date, even eclipsing the high quality materials that take the 300 sedan and other Chrysler group interior upmarket.

2013 Dodge Dart 1.4 Rallye
2013 Dodge Dart 1.4 Rallye. Click image to enlarge

The 1.4L MultiAir features 16 valves, and the intake valves are infinitely variable thanks to electronically governed hydraulic lifters instead of a camshaft, allowing more precise control of airflow and greater efficiency while still delivering peak power in any given situation. In this application, the 1.4 is turbocharged, and intercooled, making 160 hp at 5,500 rpm and 184 lb-ft of torque, all of it available from 2,500 through 4,000 rpm. It can drink regular unleaded, but prefers premium. The 1.4 MultiAir is a $1,300 option available on any trim, from the base SE to the SXT, Rallye, and Limited trims.

On the evaluation course, it proved its flexibility and refinement, bringing the Dart’s 1447 kg (1471 with the DDCT—more on that later) up to speed smoothly, in line with others in this class, which is a bit disappointing considering it makes considerably more horsepower than competitors like the Cruze’s 138 hp/148 lb-ft 1.4L turbo. It is hampered by that rather hefty curb weight, heavier even than the porky Jetta equipped with its 2.5L five-cylinder.

The base transmission is a six-speed manual, whose tuning is obviously for ease of operation and efficiency, with a light clutch, wide gates, and long throws, it struck me as an easy companion, even for potential stop-and-go, rush-hour slogs.

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