The 2013 Dodge Dart is distinctively different in its visual proportions from its competitors in the compact sedan market, and that's probably a good thing. Its cowl isn't actually any lower than in other cars, but its wide stance, lower fender tops, and long flowing roofline make it appear larger and lower. That means it's neither as slab-sided like the Ford Focus sedan nor as upright as the Chevy Cruze.
And it's far more modern than the aging Toyota Corolla or the bland Honda Civic, meaning that its only real competitor in the style department is the Hyundai Elantra--which looks cheap in some details when you park the two side by side.
In proportion, the Dart is almost reminiscent of the late Dodge Neon--Chrysler's last compact sedan--but with the upright Dodge "cross-hair" grille. Then at the rear, the Dart has elements of the large, brawny Dodge Charger sedan, with a full-width taillight cluster that offers the option of fitting 152 LED lights inside. The exhaust tips are large 3-inch oval shapes in the rear apron, unlike more basic compacts that use only a single exhaust pipe.
You'd never know that the car sits on stretched and widened underpinnings from a small, Italy-only Alfa Romeo Giulietta sedan. Which is a good thing; the new Dart looks distinctively Dodge. And its looks can likely stand up to marketing that may use a theme like, "No more boring beige compact sedans!"
Inside the Dart, the dashboard is businesslike but flowing and sculpted. Dodge's designers said they intended users to have fun while looking at the shapes, and perhaps the most noticeable feature is what they call the "floating island" center bezel--an oblong instrument panel and control surface that sits most of an inch proud of the surrounding dashboard housing.
Higher-end models feature an 8.4-inch center display--the largest in the class, Dodge underlines--and a smaller display screen with user-settable information between the two large gauges, the whole thing covered with a large cowl. We weren't able to check any low-end trim levels, but the red stitching on higher models is quite fetching.