Dodge Dart Debuts in Detroit

Dodge is debuting its next big thing at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, and it's a compact.

The 2013 Dart revives a name used by the automaker for a small car in the 1960s and 1970s and applies it to the first Fiat-based vehicle that Chrysler has introduced since it hooked up with the Italian automaker.

The sporty-looking four-door features an aggressive wedge-shaped profile and modern take on Dodge's signature crosshair grille, and represents a dramatic departure from the Caliber hatchback it is set to replace.

Power comes from a selection of three four-cylinder engines, including a high-tech turbocharged 1.4-liter unit that promises fuel economy in the 40 mpg range. The standard engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, while the top of the line Dart R/T gets a 2.4-liter equipped with Fiat's cutting edge MultiAir intake system. All are matched to 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

The driver-focused interior of the Dart takes its cues from the one in the Dodge Charger, but adds a unique "racetrack" lighting element that wraps around the both the center control panel and instrument cluster. A large 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system is the highlight of an options list that also includes backup sensors with a cross-traffic alert feature that warns the driver of cars approaching from the sides.

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    Pricing for the Illinois-built Dart has not been announced, but should be competitive with the Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus when it goes on sale later this year

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