2013 Dodge Dart Limited 2.0 Limited
2013 Dodge Dart 2.0 Limited. Click image to enlarge
First Drive: 2013 Dodge Dart

Manufacturer’s web site
Dodge Canada

Review and photos by Michael Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2013 Dodge Dart

Chrysler Corporation is locked in a battle right now to be the number one selling passenger vehicle manufacturer in Canada. This is an impressive feat, but the fact they have been doing it without a proper C-segment vehicle (compact car) makes it incredible. The much-lamented and unloved Dodge Caliber was never a very competitive entry and spent most of its time on the sidelines watching the rest of the compact cars battling it out for sales supremacy.

2013 Dodge Dart Limited 2.0 Limited
2013 Dodge Dart 2.0 Limited. Click image to enlarge

But now Dodge has gotten serious and, with a little Fiat Group DNA, has produced an entirely new compact car: behold the 2013 Dodge Dart. The Dart is the first American Chrysler vehicle to be based on FIAT Group architecture, sharing its core platform with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Although it will be marketed as a compact car in Canada, the Dart is officially classified by the EPA as a mid-size car, with rear seat legroom that exceeds some mid-sizers. Like the 2012 Nissan Versa sedan in the subcompact class, the new Dart is a segment-buster, size-wise.

The Dart’s styling is fresh and modern, but not overly striking. It does a good job looking up-to-date without being controversial or offensive. The rear end is the nicest feature, especially the LED “Racetrack” illuminated taillamp surround. The multi-spoke 17-inch wheels on my Limited trim test vehicle continued this theme of understated contemporary design, while the 225/45R17 all-season tires gave the Dodge a purposeful stance.

2013 Dodge Dart Limited 2.0 Limited
2013 Dodge Dart 2.0 Limited. Click image to enlarge

On the road, these tires provide a smooth ride and surprising levels of grip. On the test track, it wass amazing just how much lateral grip the Dart possessed. The heated steering wheel was a bit numb and feedback in general was muted, but for the luxury version of the Dart, it could dance if needed. Not so impressive though was the suspension noise: although the ride isn’t jarring and remains smooth the majority of the time, the suspension audibly crashes over every bump, big or small and makes quite the racket.

The 2013 Dodge Dart will be available with the choice of three engines ranging from a 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder, up to a 2.4L naturally aspirated four cylinder. As I was in the Limited 2.0 edition, my test car had the 2.0L inline-four-cylinder engine producing 160 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. This power is adequate in the 1,474 kg Dart and moves the vehicle with enough authority. However, if I were looking to purchase a Dart, I would be more inclined to grab the 1.4L turbo engine, and while we’re at it, the Rallye trim.

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