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In case you missed the news, Dodge is bringing the Dart nameplate back and hanging it on a thoroughly modern compact sedan. After looking over the car and perusing the specs, it looks like this is the homerun volume compact car that Dodge dealers have been hungry for since, well, forever.
The 2013 Dodge Dart is entering a crowded, critical market segment. if you haven’t test driven one in the last five years or so, compact class cars have moved way upscale. Cars like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, and Toyota Corolla, to name a few, are solidly built, feature lots of creature comforts, ride and steer like cars well above their price points, and yet typically sell in the $16,000 to $25,000 range, making them affordable to large swaths of the car buying American public.
For many younger buyers a compact car is their first new car purchase. For older buyers further along the career earnings curve, a compact car is often the choice as a practical second car. Smart and sensible shoppers comb through reviews, take lots of test drives and then lay their money down and drive these cars home by the millions.
Dodge has lacked a credible contender in this segment almost since it was invented in its modern form. But with Fiat now as the mothership, Dodge was able to start with a stellar, proven European architecture—the Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform—that has been fully sorted and by all reports is full of fun-to-drive goodness. Dodge appears to have taken the Italian soul inherent in the platform and breathed full American spirit into it. The exterior is edgy and sexy looking without being too far out there that it scares away this segment’s typically rather conservative tastes. The Dart’s face features the unmistakable crosshair grill while the tail lights and rear end trace a clear connection to the Charger. And the beauty is more than skin deep; generous use of high strength steel, and a lot of high tech, high quality assembly techniques ensure a car that is solid and holds up well over time.