The Garage was at Dodge’s stage for the global premier of the 2013 Dodge Dart at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The Dart looked sporty, and sounded good on paper. Dodge has been lost at sea in the white-hot compact car market for ages, and without a strong showing it will be very difficult for the brand to prosper. With the Dart, Dodge boasts of its Alfa Romeo DNA built in with the passion of Dodge. The Dart will be available for sale in June, while the top-spec R/T will be in around October. As promised, the Dart will start at $15,995USD, and will be offered in five trim levels. Read on for pricing and features and commentary for the Dart family!
Dart SE: $15,995 The starting point for the Dart. Standard features include 10 airbags, LED taillamps, power windows, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio, as well as a 2.0L four rated at 160hp paired to a six-speed manual. Compare that to the base VW Jetta’s ancient 2.0L, good for only 115hp and down a gear. You might punish said Jetta all year from a stop, but come warmer weather, your ego will take a hit as you sweat it out without any AC.
Dart SXT: $17,995 The SXT adds AC, as well as 17″ alloys, power mirrors, power locks, keyless entry, six speaker audio, alarm, and folding rear seat. While the SE’s price will be seen in all Dart commercials, I see the SXT accounting for a huge majority of all Dart sales.
Dart Rallye: $18,995 For the car guy, this is where the Dart starts to get interesting. Dodge talks about a ‘customized look’ with distinctive front and rear fascias, foglamps and dual exhaust tips in addition to other sporty styling touches. Inside, the Rallye adds a leather steering wheel with audio controls and a trip computer. Unique to the Rallye is an available 1.4L MultiAir turbo engine. While there is no horsepower advantage from the base 2.0L, the smaller turbo engine provides more torque. I see the Rallye as an attractive alternative to buyers who find the Honda Civic Si and VW GTI four doors as out of their price range.
Limited: $19,995 Builds from the SXT and adds an 8.4″ Uconnect touchscreen, rear back-up camera, a unique 7″ configurable instrument cluster (so cool that SRT is using it for the new Viper) and a power driver’s seat. Positioned as the luxurious Dart, the Limited will appeal to buyers seeking premium features in a compact car. I see the Limited doing well with Gen Y and X buyers who demand current tech in their cars, as well as older buyers who may be downsizing from a larger car but still wanting premium features and creature comforts.
R/T: $22,495 The R/T won’t be joining the Dart line until October, but as the top-spec Dart, and positioned as the sportiest, it will offer its own 2.4L four rated at 184hp. The R/T takes all the standard kit on the Limited but goes back to the sporty styling bits of the Rallye, and adds 18″ alloys, sport suspension, leather interior, dual auto climate control, heated seats, and a heated steering wheel, a first in this class of car. You wouldn’t think it, but the hottest Dart presents the greatest conflict. The buyer is now edging closer to the GTI and Civic Si in terms of price, but falls short in terms of power, yet offers a level of standard equipment none of those cars can match. So, the R/T has a lower price, more premium features standard, but less power. And it is the latter feature that matters a heck of a lot with the demographic cross-shopping the three cars.