Now we aren’t usually the types to hold something against a test car like its particular exterior color but our 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye which we will say right now impressed us in many, many ways—was saddled with a hue so eye searing that we could only refer to it as “Orange Julius.” Oddly, Dodge’s Challenger can totally pull off orange as a color choice but it is our humble opinion that the Dart looks better in other less outlandish tones. People stared and pointed and not in a good way.
That aside, as the first all-new compact car attempt by this automaker since the Dodge Caliber and Dodge Neon, it is amazing the feat of engineering and uniqueness that Chrysler has pulled off with this attractively styled sedan. Aside from the color of our poor tester, the Dart really looks sharp from every angle. However, one must remember that the Civic and Jetta have had decades of excellence under their respective belts and the current models really have only had to build upon that impressive engineering and design history.
Third Place: 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye
This placing in this test should by no means be a negative for Dodge as they are finally getting closer to giving the true class leaders a run for their money. There is definitely not the gap in appeal and capability separating the Dart as it so clearly did with the 2014 Corolla.
But there is still one big issue here, our test Dart stickered out over $24,000 without even a moonroof or leather, both of which the VW and Honda give you once configured to that price point. For 2014 VW will introduce an SEL + model as well with soft touch leather and plastics all around the interior, Fender audio and a long list of goodies for a price near that of our Dodge.
Admittedly, the Dart came with the 500 Abarth's 1.4 liter 160 horsepower 4-cylinder which offered plenty of power albeit with a rather disappointingly abrupt shift action from its 6-speed double clutch automatic. We would have much preferred the manual gearbox and that change could have helped the Dart's rank here.
Still, the VW's new 1.8 liter 170 horsepower turbo 4-cylinder feels more potent, smoother and is perfectly matched to the manual or automatic options. The return of the Jetta's handling prowess and Honda's myriad 2013 improvements to the Civic's interior ambience and driving enjoyment ensure the poor orange Dodge a third place slot.
But we swear, not because of the color. Well, not entirely.
Also, our test VW and Honda barely cracked $20,000 without leaving us wanting for goodies barring in-dash navigation. But most smart phones can direct you for free nowadays so do you need that feature? We did, however, appreciate the Dart's huge center screen and wacky yet useful cargo cubby hidden under the passenger seat cushion. Somehow we don't think VW or Honda would have come up with that.
Up Next: VW vs. Honda
(Who Will Win?)
Photography for 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye courtesy of Jon Gala Photography.