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Meet the Dodge Dart

A fresh design breathes new life into an iconic name.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 07:00
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The new Dart has plenty of power and agility, compliments of its Alfa Romeo heritage. The 2013 Dart uses high-tech materials along with state of the art technology to provide first class safety and convenience features. Only three advanced technology engines are now offered compared to the old school’s 11. Dodge used the Dart to compete in the pony wars of the 1960s and ’70s with engine options ranging from the lowly 101 hp, 170 CID (cubic inch displacement) “Slant Six” up to the killer 400-plus hp, 440 CID V8.  These new Dart High-Tech engines might not have the cubic inches of the past, but the new technology they pack more than makes up for loss.

Shown is the new front exhaust design for the base engine. Moving the exhaust to the front of the engine improved emissions over the older designs. Courtesy Chrysler Group LLC.

The Dart is offered in five trim levels: SE, SXT, Aero, Limited and a more conservative GT over the concept RT model. Dodge also tossed around a Rallye model, but changed it to an option package, the ones with the eye catching, hard to miss stripes. The Dart’s LED rear lighting resembles the Dodge Charger giving it a distinctive look. Dodge loaded the Dart with technology, everything from driver interface to safety controls. The stance and handling comes from the four wheels pushed out to the corners giving it almost a 62-inch track and legs stretched more than 106 inches to the rear with just an overall body length around 184 inches.

The Dart is not sporting the front end of olden days either. The sleek design gives it a very low 0.285 coefficient of drag (Cd). Dodge added active grill shutters and insulated belly pans covering 90 percent of the underbody to cut drag and lower interior noise levels. The shutters cut 10 percent of air drag by closing off the airflow through the lower part of the grill, redirecting the air around the car. Active refers to the computer’s ability to open or close the shutters according to coolant temperature, speed, and load inputs.  

The intake piping is hid under the engine cover. The baffle on the right nestled between the cam cover humps help control noise. From the outside the All-Aluminum engine hides the MultiAir system located under the rear half of the cover. 

Chrysler’s Uconnect voice command system is optional on most vehicles including the Dart. The Uconnect system gives the driver access to a navigation system, smart phone connect, multimedia center, satellite entertainment and more by simply pressing a steering wheel mounted button and talking. Uconnect can handle phone or conference calls, stream audio from Bluetooth connectivity, give directions, and change climate controls all at the same time from voice commands. The 8.4-inch touchscreen has a large screen for viewing the backup camera or driving routes. The Uconnect multimedia center can talk to electronic devices via a USB port or wirelessly through Bluetooth.

Dart owners can choose options like keyless Enter-n-Go, allowing the driver to simply touch the door handle to unlock, enter the car, press brake pedal, push the start button and take off. The remote start allows starting the engine from inside their home or other places and with the right options the system can thaw out the car on those cold days, even toasting your buns with the seat warmers, or keep you from cooking on hot days by turning on the A/C. 

The Dart can help the driver with normal driving tasks. It uses Smartbeam headlamps for auto dimming, and Rain Sensing wipers to automatically turn on the wipers. The inside rearview mirror is the key player housing a mini camera for sensing light levels and oncoming traffic for auto-on lighting and automatic headlight dimming. It hides the windshield glass mounted infrared sensor used for detecting raindrops to turn the wipers on and set the wiper’s speed. The Ultrasonic Park Assist system located in the rear bumper helps the driver determine rear distances when backing, plus rear cross path detection for avoiding unwanted parking lot meetings.   

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