Key to the Highway

Observations about cars and the auto industry

2012 MPG Track Day: 2013 Dodge Dart

It wouldn’t have taken a lot of effort for Dodge to have made a better compact vehicle than the awkward looking, awkward driving Caliber. Even an SRT version failed to elicit much excitement. Enter the Dart; based on a successful Fiat sedan, it brings a higher level of techno look and feel to the interior than other Dodge models. More important, the driving dynamics put it on an equal footing with other compact sedans. The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine delivers a nice growl and combined with the six-speed gearbox, has plenty of giddy up. Handling on the track was well composed; steering and brakes are responsive. One minor point: the shifter could use a shorter throw.

Verdict: As the first small sedan since the Neon, the Dart brings Dodge fully into this century with a worthy competitor to the likes of Corolla, Civic and Focus.

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