The 2013 Dodge Dart comes in five flavors and the base model starts at a competitive $15,995 before destination charges. This top of the line Limited model with nearly every option selected rings the bell at $25,065. Where does the additional $9,000 go and is it worth it? I think it’s worth it and I can justify nearly all of this extra cost. There is one option I would have liked to remove, and I will tell you what it is a little later.
The 2013 Dart is an all new car born out of a collaboration between Chrysler and its parent company – Fiat. This car also bears a controversial name that pays homage to the Dodge Dart of the 1960s and 1970s. Yet, the new Dart has no physical or spiritual connection to its namesake. This bothers some people, but I never had a connection to the older Darts and the name on the new car is just fine with me.
The new car is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta chassis and my test car had the 1.4 liter MultiAir turbocharged 4-cylinder borrowed from the Fiat 500 Abarth. Combining the legendary names and engineering from Alfa Romeo and Fiat’s Abarth performance division is not a bad thing by any means. The MultiAir motor makes 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque and sounds very good doing it. The exhaust note that resonates out of the large dual exhausts is not quite as visceral as from the Fiat Abarth, but it still sounds aggressive and powerful. It’s a lot of fun to rev this car.
My test car had a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and it is the one thing that I wanted to change about the car. The Limited model comes with a 6-speed manual and this dual clutch automatic is an $1,100 option. I have driven both, the manual and now the automatic and the automatic significantly degrades the experience of this car. And it’s not just because I am an enthusiast and I prefer a manual in all cases. The automatic in my test car added an odd delay between when you step on the gas and when the car gets going from a stand still. Once under way, the shifts are quick and smooth. However, this strange and noticeable delay bothered me. You might think that this can also be attributed to turbo lag, but I did not notice this as much with the 6-speed manual. I recommend – save the grand and learn how to use a manual.
What about the other $8,000 of cost between the fully loaded Limited and bare bones base model? On the outside, you get a more sophisticated look with body colored grill surround and side mirrors, chrome accents, fog lamps, and the 17 inch aluminum wheels. On the inside, this little car is loaded with comfort and technology features that not long ago have only been available on much more expensive larger cars. Of course, you have the leather throughout, but you also get heated from seats and a heated steering wheel, backup camera, blind spot detection, automatic high beams, automatic rain sensing wipers, keyless entry and push button start, dual climate, and on and on. You also get the huge 8.4 inch multifunction touch screen in the center and a second 7 inch LCD display in the gauge cluster. The interface is easy to learn and to use. I especially liked that you can configure and easily switch the 7 inch gauge screen between digital and needle speedometers or display other info like fuel economy. Wow, all this for around $25,000! I have tested some cars that cost $40,000 that did not have blind spot detection or a heated steering wheel. You get a lot of features for your money, and the best thing is – if you don’t want or need all the fancy stuff, most of it is optional and you can decontent your Dart and save money. The Limited starts at $19,995, plus you have 4 other models below that.
The Dart is also a competent performer in the twisties and on rough roads. The ride has a good balance of comfort and firmness. The steering could have a little more feel, but the Dart feels confident through high speed corners. I would not call it a full out sports car, but it is definitely fun to drive when the road gets curvy.
How about fuel economy? The Dart delivers here as well. The Limited model is rated at 25/36 MPG by the EPA. After driving my test car in very cold conditions (daytime high temperature around 15F) and on my regular mixed city and highway trips, I averaged 32.4 MPG. This is with the heater, heated seats and steering wheel on full blast all the time.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I give this 2013 Dodge Dart Limited a Lease It! I really wanted to give it a Buy It, but the strange automatic transmission behavior diminished the fun character of this car. If it had the 6 speed manual, I would be all over it. Buy It! Also, given the plethora of engine, transmission, and model choices – I give a Buy It rating to the whole Dart line in general.
Please enjoy this fun TFLcar three way mashup where we compare and contrast the Dart against the Buick Verano and the Chrysler 200.
Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, software engineer, writer, and reporter. He has been writing and reporting at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or scouring the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.