Chrysler has clearly tapped into partner FIAT's extensive knowledge and expertise in producing small cars. The Italian carmaker's influence shows clearly in both the design and marketing of the Dart.
The front-wheel-drive Dodge Dart sedan is available in five different models: SE, SXT, Aero, GT and Limited. Dodge is clearly looking to give customers a lot of options when choosing a Dart, with three engines available across the range. SE models feature a 160-horsepower 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. SXT, GT and Limited models come with a 2.4L 4-cylinder. The unit produces 184 horsepower and 174 lb-feet of torque. Finally, the eco-friendly Aero trim features a turbocharged 1.4L 4-cylinder. The 160-horsepower engine is borrowed directly from FIAT and helps the Dart return up to 41 mpg on the highway. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard on all but the Limited, which includes a 6-speed automatic.
The Dart SE is equipped with standard features such as projector headlights and LED taillights, power windows, "denim" cloth seats with 6-way manual adjustability for the driver and a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 player.
The SXT adds amenities such as power door locks and mirrors, keyless entry, a 6-speaker stereo, 17-inch wheels and air conditioning.
The Aero is equipped similarly to the SE, with the addition of a 7-inch customizable digital display, 16-inch aluminum wheels and an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen display. In addition to the 1.4L Turbo engine, the Aero also offers an optional 6-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The GT comes similarly equipped to the SXT, but adds the digital displays of the Aero as well as a much more aggressive looking front end, featuring a blacked-out grille. Handling is courtesy a sport-tuned suspension with frequency damping shocks and 18-inch alloy wheels. Keyless entry and push-button start are also standard, as is perforated Napa leather upholstery and a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat.
The top-of-the-line Limited adds an 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation, a power sunroof, a 7-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster, automatic headlamps, a heated steering wheel and front seats with a 6-way power adjustable driver's seat, automatic dual climate control, and Uconnect Voice Command with Bluetooth.
Safety features on the Dart are impressive. Ten airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control are standard. Electronic Roll Mitigation and hill-start assist are also included. A rear back-up camera is standard on Aero, GT and Limited models. Optional safety features include blind-spot monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection.
In January, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that it would phase out two compact cars, the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart, until the company could get together with another and find a cost-effective way to build them. Ahead of said phase-out, Dodge has heavily tweaked the Dart's lineup, in what could be seen as a final effort to bump up sales.
Dodge is paring down its Dart trim levels from five -- SE, SXT, Aero, GT and Limited -- to just three -- SXT Sport, Turbo and GT Sport. Gone are the focuses on efficiency (Aero) and comfort (Limited). Now, it's all about appealing to the enthusiast.
The transmission by itself shows that Dodge is really hoping to get fanatics behind the wheel of a Dart. A six-speed manual transmission is standard for all three trim levels, and it's the only option on the Turbo (a six-speed slushbox is available for SXT Sport and GT Sport models).
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