Note: This is a guest post from one of Gaywheels’ newest contributors, Brittany Larson. You can follow her on Twitter at @brittlarson10. Fellow editors: send her a note if you’re looking for another auto writer.
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(In real life, I would pause here for catcalls and a round of applause, but this being the internet, I’ll continue.)
The Dodge Dart was originally released by Chrysler in 1960 as a full-size family sedan. It evolved into a compact by 1963 and was discontinued in 1976. Recently, Chrysler re-released the Dodge Dart, which replaces the Caliber as Dodge’s entry-level vehicle. As far as I can tell, however, the new Dart doesn’t have much in common with the old one, apart from the name of course.
The Original Dodge Dart: 1960-1976
The Dodge Dart of years past can hardly be compared to Dodge’s classics: the Charger and the Challenger. But even so, I’ll admit that in sixteen years of production, Chrysler released some semi-cool Dodge Darts. The problem was, however, that they were too few and far between. Plus, the good ones tended to resemble Chargers and Challengers, so essentially they were no more than glorified copycats.
Like the Ford Taurus in the 90’s and the Toyota Camry today, the Dodge Dart could be found parked in almost every other driveway in the 1970s. It had a slight edge over the Taurus and Camry though, because in addition to sedans, some Dart models were available as convertibles as well. Additionally, throughout its existence, the Dodge Dart was a popular choice for taxicab companies. It would be hard to name a movie made in the 70’s where a Dodge Dart taxi didn’t make an appearance.
The 2013 Dodge Dart
I don’t think we’re in any danger of the modern Dodge Dart becoming as popular as its predecessor, but I’m almost certain that it’s destined to fare better for Chrysler than the Dodge Caliber did — and hopefully better than the Dodge Neon, which is also among the new Dart’s predecessors. Because of Chrysler’s recent collaboration with Fiat, the 2013 Dodge Dart is based the same platform as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, though the Dart’s stance is slightly wider and elongated.
If you’re in the market for a compact car and are considering the Dodge Dart, you’ll have the choice of two engines, both four-cylinders: a 2.0-liter with 160-hp and 148 ft-lb of torque that gets approximately 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, and a 1.4-liter turbo with 160 hp and 184 ft-lb of torque that gets 27 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. Equipped with either engine, the Dart is a quiet ride and has decent handling due to a fully independent front and rear suspension — something of a rarity in the compact class.
As for the Dart’s interior, your socks probably won’t be blown off when you open the door, unless you opt for a premium-trim model tricked out with red accent stitching and a very large LCD screen on the center stack. However, there’s an impressive bit of room for the driver and passengers, particularly for a compact sedan.
In sum, like most compact vehicles, the base trim of the Dodge Dart is nothing to write home about. However, if you are willing to put down some cash ($19,995), you might drive away in a vehicle that is — dare I say it — cool.