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2013 Dodge Dart Preview: 2012 Detroit Auto Show Page 2

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Dart SE, SXT, Rallye, and Limited models all come with the 2.0-liter engine standard, while the 1.4T is optional on all of those models; the 2.4-liter is standard on the R/T.

The 2013 Dodge Dart will have a six-speed manual as standard, a six-speed automatic with AutoStick manual control, and a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. The manual is Fiat-provided, while the new dual-clutch is a Chrysler Group unit. The dual-clutch unit will be reserved for the 1.4T, in a combination that we expect to approach or meet 40 mpg on the highway.

Also helping that highway mileage is a “world-class” coefficient of drag. The Dart is the first Dodge to use an active grille-shutter system, which stops airflow through the lower portion during warmup or at highway speeds, opening them when more cooling is needed. And the underside of the Dart is covered in black-composite panels to aid aerodynamics and block road noise, too.

2013 Dodge Dart

2013 Dodge Dart

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A compact, with an American-sized interior

Inside, the Dart has been designed to fit 'American-sized' occupants—read, a very wide range—including the Chrysler Group's 6'-7” head of interior design, Klaus Busse, who we noted can fit in the back without contortion. Chrysler already claims best-in-class hip and shoulder room, as well as an “exceptionally spacious, pleasing interior.”

An available “racetrack” lighting theme—what was teased early on in some special-release images[—provides a lit border outlining the 'floating island bezel' that contains gauges, audio, and climate controls. The glovebox is designed to fit an iPad, while the center console contains auxiliary jacks alongside storage spaces for smartphones and smaller electronics. There are also center-console side-storage pockets good for notebooks, pens, or phones. And in many trims, the cushion of the front passenger seat flips up to offer 'hidden' storage beneath.

The TFT instrument cluster, which all versions of the Dart get, can be reconfigured to display two analog displays or two digital displays, as well as other information through reconfigurable displays—which can be set differently for each driver via the keyfob. Throughout the lineup, Ruby Red LED accent lighting outlines audio and climate-control functions, as well as gauges (with LED rings).

The UConnect Touch system (the big screen in the middle of the dash) includes an 8.4-inch display—the largest touch-screen in this class—and it's offered in versions with or without navigation, as well as with or without voice command. Icons at the bottom of the screen include radio, personal audio, controls, climate, navigation, and phone, and menu functions are arranged in a way to logically group functions, and just as in MyFord Touch the display in front of the driver can show abbreviated info (turn-by-turn directions, for example). Premium navigation versions of UConnect Touch show SiriusXM Travel Link information, including fuel prices, movie times, weather, and sports updates.

Media-center functions of UConnect Touch include a USB port, an SD card reader, full iPod control, Gracenote music-database integration (for album artwork and track info), and the top Alpine premium audio system includes nine speakers and 506 watts.

2013 Dodge Dart

2013 Dodge Dart

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Class-exclusive safety features

Ten airbags are standard on every 2013 Dart, including front seat-mounted side airbags, rear outboard pelvic airbags, front driver and passenger knee bags, and side-curtain bags covering both rows. A parkView rear backup camera, ParkSense parking assist, Hill-start Assist, Rainy Brake Support, and Brake Assist are all standard as well, as are four-wheel disc brakes. Blind-spot monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection are available, with the latter a class exclusive.

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