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Dodge Dart

Alfa DNA, all-American name.

The compact-car segment represents more than fifteen percent of all new car sales. Dodge’s new entry in the segment, the Dart, uses architecture from an Alfa Romeo Giulietta — a benefit of being part of Fiat’s family — and resurrects a name from the 1960s. The Dart is larger all around than its overseas sibling and is wider, longer, and taller than most compact sedans. Under the hood there are two available engines, both paired to a Fiat-sourced six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder is available with a six-speed automatic transmission, and the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder will be available with a Fiat-designed six-speed dual-clutch automatic. There’s also an R/T model on the horizon that will be powered by a 184-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder, but an on-sale date for that car hasn’t been set yet. Dodge will also start selling an Aero model, which ekes out 41 mpg on the highway, later this year. The Dart has a smooth and well-controlled ride, and it feels both more substantial and more capable than most of its competitors. That said the Dart doesn’t render other choices in the compact-car segment, such as the Mazda 3 and the Ford Focus, any less desirable. Competition is fierce in this group, but with the Dart, Dodge can put up a good fight.

COMPETITORS

Chevrolet Cruze

Ford Focus

Hyundai Elantra

Mazda 3

new for 2013

The compact four-door is currently available in four trim levels: SE, SXT, Rallye, and Limited. An R/T model will debut in the not-so-distant future, and an Aero model will debut later this year.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Ten air bags, ABS, stability and traction control, a tire-pressure monitor, and hill-start assist are standard.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 24–27

HWY 34–41

PRO

Capitalizes on its Italian roots

Nice interior

Plenty of powertrain options

CON

Lots of competition, likely more on the way

Underwhelming exterior styling

Base Price Range: $16,790–$20,790

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited

BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger

ENGINES: 1.4L turbo I-4, 160 hp, 184 lb-ft

2.0L I-4, 160 hp, 148 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 97.2 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: 13.1 cu ft

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