Competition in the subcompact market heats up in June when the Dodge Dart goes on sale. Dodge has announced its pricing and, as promised it starts at a very competitive $15,995 ( $795 destination) for the base SE model. This undercuts pricing for the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla but is a few dollars more than the Honda Civic.
For that starting price Dart buyers get the new 2.0-liter 16-valve Tigershark I-4 engine, which produces 160 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Dodge claims this is best in class power. Official EPA fuel economy figures have not yet been released so we don't know how it will compare with its competitors in the fuel economy race.
Standard equipment on the SE includes 10 standard air bags, four wheel disc anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control. It does not include air conditioning though, which is something only a handful of people are willing to forego nowadays.
To get A/C you have to upgrade to the Dodge Dart SXT, which starts at $17,995. For that additional $2,000, you'll also get 17-inch aluminum wheels, power body-color mirrors and door locks, remote keyless entry, six-speakers, security alarm and a 60/40 split folding rear seat.
Next up is the Dodge Dart Rallye with a sticker of $18,995. It adds black front fascia accents, black headlamp bezels as well as different interior colors. An option for Rallye customers is availability of the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine, which has the same power output as the larger 2.0-liter engine (160 hp) but delivers 184 lb.-ft. of torque.
Those looking for a more upmarket feel will need to check out the Dodge Dart Limited which starts at $19,995 and comes with an upgraded interior. Even then leather seats and other luxury items will add to the base sticker. Incidentally, WardsAuto World magazine editors have just chosen the Dodge Dart as a recipient of the "Wards 10 Best Interiors" award from among 40 eligible new 2012 and 2013 vehicles.
Last but not least is the top-of-the-line Dodge Dart R/T, which will be available in the Fall at a starting price of $22,495. It is powered by the new 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir 2 4-cylinder engine that produces 184 horsepower with 171 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated to a six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic with AutoStick.
The R/T features the standard content of the Limited and adds the following equipment: 18-inch aluminum wheels, sport suspension with frequency-sensing damping shocks, unique front fascia with black accents and Hyper Black grille, black headlamp bezels, integrated dual exhaust with bright exhaust tips R/T-unique perforated leather seats, dual-zone automatic temperature control, heated seats and heated steering wheel.
Sadly, you cannot buy the ultimate 600 hp , which would probably cost somewhere north of $250,000. It is reserved for Travis Pastrana, who will race it in the 2012 Global RallyCross Championship.