Chrysler Group LLC has chosen the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit as the venue to unveil the 2013 Dodge Dart; its first compact sedan since the Neon which was discontinued in 2005. The Dart is also the first Dodge model to be built on a modified Fiat platform.
In addition to the Dart, no less than seven other Chrysler sedans, crossovers and SUVs will share the Fiat platform. The new Dart will replace the Caliber which sold only 35,049 units last year.
Platform sharing is at the heart of Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne’s vision to return both automakers to profitability.
According to Marchionne, “Platform sharing between Fiat and Chrysler will be a key driver of our efforts to increase efficiencies and volumes in the years ahead.”
The new Fiat inspired models will offer consumers a variety of powertrain options as well as features typically found on higher-end vehicles.
The fascia of the 2013 Dodge Dart resembles the larger Avenger mid-size sedan, while its rear end, with its LED lighting, is reminiscent of the Dodge Charger muscle car. The Dart rides on the CUSW (Custom U.S. Wide) platform, which is a modified version of the platform used for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
The Dart will be available with three four-cylinder engine options. Consumers will be able to choose between a 1.4-liter, 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter turbocharged engine all of which will be teamed with a six-speed automatic or optional six-speed manual transmission. The 1.4-liter and 2.0-liter engines will deliver 160 hp, while the 2.4-liter turbo is rated at 184 hp.
The Dart will be available in 12 exterior colors and 14 interior / trim combinations. It will also feature a standard infotainment center with an 8.4 inch touch screen and ten airbags. Optional features include blind-spot and cross-path detection and a heated steering wheel and seats.
The 2013 Dodge Dart will compete against the Chevrolet Cruz, Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla.
Following its clumsy handling of the Fiat 500’s North American launch in 2011, Chrysler is being extremely cautious with the Dart’s launch. The automaker is playing its cards close to the vest this time and has declined to set an official launch date other than to say that it will be sometime during the first half of the year. Full-scale production is set to begin sometime in April.
The North American International Auto Show runs through January 22 at the Cobo Center in Detroit.
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