2013 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year
2013 Dodge Dart
Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett | Press Release
In the hills of Texas near the Austin suburb of Dripping Springs, we're taking Mt. Gaynor Road to push the throttle on a new made-in-America compact sedan for the Dodge brand whose structure, suspension and steering mechanisms come from Italy's Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback through Dodge's Italian corporate parent, Fiat.
Badged with a vintage nameplate of Dodge's entry-level vehicle produced from 1960 through 1976, a Dodge Dart of 2013 scoots down the road with strong torque flowing from an optional turbo-charged four-cylinder engine that's also shared with the Alfa.
Dart's exterior design features smooth lines flowing over a wedge-shaped body with the canted front hood and raked windshield tipping to the extreme to enhance aerodynamic efficiency.
A chin-forward prow projects Dodge's signature split-crosshair grille and an aggressive lower fascia housing optional projector-beam foglamps.
Flanks bulge with muscular fenders ringing some nice wheels and the blunted tail treatment seems downright sculptural with a dazzling ring of 152 LED lamps streaking between rear corners.
The concise size of this compact-class sedan allows it to move easily in traffic lanes or slip into tight confines of a parking spot.
Dart's wheelbase length of nine feet sets up a curt turning diameter around 36 feet so it seems easy to maneuver.
The unibody structure composed primarily of high-strength steel produces a chassis which feels rock solid.
Independent suspension elements consist of front MacPherson struts tuned to minimize camber loss, with coil springs over gas-charged shocks and stabilizer bar, and a rear multi-link arrangement with coil springs, link-type stabilizer bar and gas-charged shocks.
The new Dart also contains many active safety systems designed to keep an alert driver out of harm's way by avoiding accidents. The equipment includes quick-response electric power steering and four-wheel disc brakes tied to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic brake assist (EBA) and anti-skid devices via the electronic stability control (ESC) system and traction control system (TCS).
Measures for passive passenger safety in the cabin extend from the sturdy safety-cage construction to three-point front seatbelts with shoulder adjustment, backseat restraints with upper and lower anchors to mount a child's seat, smart multi-stage air bags up front with seat-mounted side air bags fore and aft, front seat knee air bags and curtain-style air bags concealed in headliners above side windows for outboard seats on two rows.
Dodge constructs the front-wheel-drive 2013 Dart with three different four-cylinder engines in five trim designations: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T.
Dart SE the price-leader totes a 2.0-liter four-in-line engine with dual overhead cams (DOHC) and variable valve timing (VVT) to generate 160 hp at 6400 rpm plus torque of 148 lb-ft at 4600 rpm.
The 2.0 four-pack plant links to a six-speed manual transmission, the C635, and scores fuel economy numbers up to 25 miles per gallon (mpg) for city driving and 36 mpg for highway cruising.
Three other Dart trims -- SXT, Rallye and Limited -- also carry the 2.0-four engine as standard and offer optionally an intelligent six-speed electronic automatic, the Powertech 6F24.
Optional power choice for Dart SXT, Rallye and Limited is a 1.4-liter four-in-line engine with single overhead cam (SOHC), turbo-charger and inter-cooler.
The turbo-four, shared with the racy Fiat 500 Abarth, generates 160 hp at 5500 rpm and 184 lb-ft of torque between 2500-4000 rpm. Teamed with the C635 six-speed manual stick, a turbo-powered Dart achieves fuel economy numbers of 27/39 mpg (city/highway), but an optional transmission for the turbo is a six-speed dual dry clutch (DDCT) automatic with manual shift mode.
Dart's passenger compartment, padded and insulated, amounts to a comfortable space packed with stylish appointments and premium interior finishes.
The layout consists of two buckets in front of a bench broad enough for three in a pinch but with indented sections for two. Backs of the second-row seat, divided 60/40 into separate sections, fold down to expand the trunk's cargo capacity to 42.4 cubic feet.
Driver fits in a comfortable bucket which adjusts in multiple directions.
Instruments in the dashboard cluster include round analog gauges with black faces and vivid white lighting, plus a 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) display.
Dart SE the base trim stocks air conditioning, power windows, seats clad in cloth upholstery, a 12-volt outlet and four-speaker AM/FM radio. Upgraded Dart SXT adds premium seat fabric, a front console with sliding armrest, split-folding rear seatback, six-speaker audio kit and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
Dodge's MSRP Dart chart commences at $15,995 for the 2013 Dart SE.
The EWP Car of the Year Award for the 2013 Dodge Dart was presented in Detroit on January 14, 2013. Presenters included Courtney Caldwell, Editor-in-chief and founder of EWP Media, and Michael Martini, president, Consumer OE, Bridgestone Americas.
Bridgestone, longtime lead sponsor and supporter of the EWP and ICOTY Awards, recognizes the consumer-product relationship as critical to vehicle success.
“Bridgestone is proud to support the and EWP ICOTY awards, and applauds the efforts of these automakers that like our company demonstrate a strong commitment to innovative technology,” said Michael Martini, president, Consumer OE, Bridgestone Americas. “Through the combined efforts of everyone in the auto industry, and led by automakers like those being recognized today, we will continue to meet and exceed the demands of the motoring public.”
Accepting the 5th annual EWP Car of the Year trophy in Detroit at the NAIAS was Reid Bigland, President CEO – Dodge Brand.
Accepting the 2013 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year for Dodge Dart is Reid Bigland, President & CEO (l), Dodge Brand. Presenting the trophy (l-r) EWP Publisher, Courtney Caldwell; Mike Martini, president Bridgestone Americas OE, and Martha Hindes, RTM writer.
"We are honored to accept this award that recognizes the Dodge Dart’s environmental friendliness and fuel economy of up to 41 miles per gallon.” said Reid Bigland, President CEO – Dodge Brand. “In addition to its excellent fuel economy, the all-new Dodge Dart offers features and benefits never before offered in a compact car, the interior room of a mid-size car and class-leading technology, style and safety, and a starting price of just $15,995." Press Release
"We would like to thank Bridgestone Tire for sponsoring the 2013 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year Awards," said founder Courtney Caldwell. Their continued annual support has allowed us to honor automakers for vehicles designed and engineered with power sources that contribute to a healthier and cleaner environment.
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