By Aaron Bragman on January 8, 2013
Chrysler has announced that yet another new trim level is joining the list for its 2013 Dodge Dart lineup, and it's set to be introduced next week at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The new Dart GT will join the SE, SXT, Rallye, Aero and Limited trims, building off the Limited model and going in a decidedly sporty direction. It goes into production in the spring.
The GT will feature a frankly impressive list of standard equipment, including a two-tone leather interior, automatic climate control, Chrysler's 8.4-inch touch-screen, dual exhaust, a unique sport suspension, 18-inch wheels, heated steering wheel and front seats, and special exterior trim. The only powertrain will be the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine making 184-horsepower, delivered through a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic with manual-shift function.All of this comes at a relatively reasonable $21,790, including a $795 destination charge, or $1,000 above the price of the previous range-topping Limited trim. Still more equipment can be added, including satellite radio, a Garmin-based navigation system, premium Alpine 10-speaker sound system, sunroof, high-intensity-discharge headlamps and a Technology Group package that includes push-button start, rain-sensing wipers and a host of blind spot warning detectors.
The model addresses an area some enthusiasts have complained about: the desire for a sharper suspension to match what is a fairly athletic chassis. Until now, the enthusiast’s choice has been any Dart with the turbo 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission, but the 24-horsepower advantage of the GT coupled with the stick shift and a sport suspension may change some minds—at least until the R/T trim level arrives, which Chrysler says it is still exploring.
The Dart GT seems to be aiming for the Honda Civic Si, featuring more standard equipment, larger wheels, standard leather interior, but coming up 17-horsepower short in the engine bay versus the Civic. The Civic also features a limited slip differential that helps it put that power down in corners, but the Civic buyer will pay a $1,515 premium for that power and equipment benefit, and not get much of the Dart’s standard kit.
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron