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Driving the 2013 Dodge Dart GT

1963 Dodge Dart GT

The sporty Dodge Dart GT originally debuted 1963, with enhanced performance and style, including a heavy-duty suspension. The new 2013 Dodge Dart GT also delivers a sport-tuned suspension, along with distinctive styling features -- standard class-exclusive racetrack LED taillamps and integrated dual exhaust,  perforated heated Nappa Leather seats, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen and 7-inch TFT. The sticker price is set at $21,990, including destination charge.

2013 dodge dart GT

The Dart GT, which appears to replace the originally planned Dart R/T, will include the 2.4 liter TigerShark four-cylinder engine created by Chrysler, using Fiat's MultiAir 2 valve-control system. The engine is rated at 184 horsepower, and the car includes 18-inch aluminum wheels.

Other 2013 Dodge Darts are the Dart SE, SXT, Rallye, Aero and Limited models. The press release noted that “Dodge continues to investigate a high-performance R/T model.”

Building off the well-equipped Dart Limited, the GT adds the 184 horsepower 2.4-liter Tigershark engine, with six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic with AutoStick; sport suspension with frequency sensing damping shocks; unique front fascia with black accents and grille; black projector headlamp bezels; body-color door handles; class-exclusive integrated dual exhaust with bright exhaust tips; class-exclusive racetrack LED taillamps; Nappa perforated leather seats in black with red stitching or two-tone black/red; class-exclusive heated steering wheel; dual-zone automatic temperature control; remote start (with automatic transmission); and universal garage door opener.

Dart GT also includes projector fog lamps, power heated mirrors with turn signals, 8.4 inch touch-screen, rear backup camera, leather covered steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, power ten-way driver’s seat, overhead console, in-seat storage , illuminated front cup holders and vanity mirrors, express front power windows, auto headlamps, LED interior lights, aerodynamic grill shutters and underbody cover, filtered air conditioning, and numerous other features.

Paint colors (none carrying a surcharge) are Redline Red, Header Orange, Blue Streak, Citrus Peel, Laguna Blue, Pitch Black, Tungsten, Bright Silver, Bright White, True Blue, Maximum Steel and Winter Chill.

2013 dodge dart gt

Driving the Dodge Dart GT

dart-gt

We were able to briefly test a Dodge Dart GT around the track and on a handling course. The suspension remains soft when it comes to cushioning bumps and bad road surfaces, but firm when it comes to handling curves. Raised pavement strips, bad potholes, concrete surfaces, and other problems that normally cause noise and jittering within the cabin were handled with aplomb by the Dart GT. Yet, when we took it out, the car felt confident and sure, handling sharp turns at high speeds without fuss or squealing tires.

Driving the Dodge Dart GTTaking curves at the same speeds, Dart GT felt much lighter and better balanced than even the high-end Grand Cherokee SRT8; while the Dart’s actual road-holding is probably not quite as good as the high-performance SUV, the Grand Cherokee felt heavier, while Dart seemed to take the turns in stride.  As with all Darts (and the Grand Cherokee), the interior was very quiet.

When it came to acceleration, there was no mistaking the difference between the SRT cars and the Dart. While the engine provided some instant throttle response, when working through the automatic transmission, there was no possibility of mistaking the two. Dart moved forward slowly, the transmission downshifted, and Dart moved forward with more authority; but despite the bigger engine, the automatic Dart GT is no pocket rocket.

Part of the issue may be the comfortable, soft-shifting six-speed. With added refinement (sound insulation, confident suspension, smooth shifting, gradual torque onset) comes the loss of “acceleration feel,” which is why a Fiat 500 Abarth feels faster than a Lexus LS 500 when the reverse is true. As a side note, the Dart GT can almost certainly outrace the 1964 Dart GT, even if the latter feels faster.

The Dart GT is reasonably priced, at around the same price as the Dart Limited with the Fiat engine, and it comes nicely loaded. This car is going to be a ball of fun for people who live in areas with empty roads and sharp turns, but at the same time, it won’t be hard to live with; the gas pedal and steering were not, by any means, twitchy or overly sensitive. Instead, the car smoothly delivers and responds to driver input.

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