Chrysler, Italian style
Fiat became the controlling owner of Chrysler Group in Chrysler's bankruptcy, bailout and restructuring in 2009, giving the Detroiters an intriguing Italian accent.
And with the new Dodge Dart, we get a sedan based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta in Europe, which should be pretty decent DNA.
So I had high hopes for the metallic blue-gray Dart Limited. It seemed to possess some of the same one-world charm as the new Ford Focus — a sedan that could tackle curvy European back roads with grace and still be comfortable at an American backyard barbecue.
With its long wheelbase and short front and rear overhangs, the Dart looked as contemporary as your average Gen Y Zippie attached to this week's version of the iPhone.
Its long hood abutted a curved grille and large, aggressive headlamps. A blacked-out grille with Dodge's quasi-menacing crosshair center gave the sedan some sporting flair.
The car's large doors looked efficient, promising more space in back than the Dart could actually deliver, and highly polished 10-spoke wheels carried substantial 225/45-17 tires.
But the exterior, while crisp and well-proportioned, was overshadowed by the gray-and-white interior — whose bold color scheme looked like something you might find in a 1959 Olds 88.
A gray dashboard had a stitched hood over the instrument panel and a prominent center stack trimmed in piano black.
Gray leather covered the steering wheel, and the seats were wrapped in luxurious-looking pleated white leather in gray shells.
I was less impressed with the legroom in back, which was reasonable but not as generous as I had expected.
In fact, that close-but-no-cigar theme prevailed beneath the hood as well.
My Dart Limited was equipped with the standard 2-liter “Tigershark” four-cylinder kicking out 160 horsepower.
That power is identical to the Ford Focus SE. But here's the deal: The Focus is nearly 400 pounds lighter than the Dart — 2,907, according to Edmunds.com, compared with 3,295 for the Dart, says Motor Trend.
Even a fairly good six-speed automatic can't do much to move that bulk, which is close to the weight of some midsize sedans.
Though the engine is smooth and refined with a rich exhaust note, it needs a mediocre 9.9 seconds to propel the husky Dart to 60, according to Motor Trend.
The Focus, incidentally, is nearly two seconds quicker to 60, the magazine calculated.
I suggest you choose the optional turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, which also has 160 horsepower but generates 40 more pound-feet of torque and is considerably quicker in tests.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Coal official: Number of W.Va. mining sites falls to 96
- Profit falls at vitamin retailer GNC Holdings in third quarter
- ‘Airbender’ bent rules of Pa. film tax credit
- How to avoid Amazon and still get deals
- Strengthening U.S. growth reflects help from Federal Reserve
- Radiation detection of drilling waste nearly set at W.Va. landfills
- Mylan’s 3Q profit triples on strong U.S. sales
- Sweet tooth will cost you more next year
- Highmark’s new REMWorks Sleep Store will sell sleep apnea equipment
- Hedge funds sue to block EDMC deal
- Bayer profit edges higher, raises forecasts