This, ladies and gentlemen, is the new 2013 Dodge Dart GT. Look a bit like the 2013 Dodge Dart R/T previously shown in press photographs? It should. For all intents and purposes, they’re exactly the same car.
Let’s flash back to a year agoJanuary when Dodge first unwrapped the new 2013 Dart small-car at last year’s Detroit auto show. Chrysler announced its all-new small car would be available in several trims, including the SE, SXT, Rallye, and Limited, but only one – the range-topping Dart R/T – would offer the 2.4-liter “Tigershark” I-4. That car was supposed to hit the market in the third quarter of 2012, but was delayed until early 2013.
Flash forward to today. That car is now ready to launch, but it won’t reach consumers under the Dart R/T name. Instead, Dodge will sell the very same car as the 2013 Dart GT, a nameplate last used in the United States market for the 1969 model year.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a retro-themed name game involving the Dart: a Mopar accessory package was teased to us last December as the Dart Demon, but wound up being introduced months later as the Dart GTS 210 Tribute package. However, we’re told there’s a bit more rhyme/reason to the last-minute moniker madness this time around.
Chrysler representatives tell us a there’s a push from within the company to reserve the R/T nameplate for models that offer best-in-class horsepower. Although the Dart GT’s 2.4-liter I-4 offers up 184hp, which bests most competitors’ mainstream offerings, but if the car were to be positioned or viewed as a performance-oriented compact, it fails to trump the Ford Focus ST, Mazdaspeed3, and Volkswagen GTI in terms of horsepower. Ergo, the R/T moniker is shelved for the time being. Fret not, fans of sporty small cars: Chrysler insists it’s still investigating options for a performance-oriented Dart, although it doesn’t yet know if such a creation would work best as an R/T or an SRT model.
In the meantime, the 2013 Dart GT will serve as the top-spec Dart trim, including things like the aforementioned 2.4-liter I-4, firmer suspension tuning, 18-inch wheels, full-width “racetrack” LED taillamps, black leather seating with red contrast stitching (a full-blown red-on-black two-tone interior is optional), heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment interface as standard equipment. Options are limited to a six-speed automatic transmission, a sunroof, HID headlamps, navigation, satellite radio
If there’s a silver lining in all this, it lies with pricing. As of Monday, Dodge’s consumer website suggested the 2013 Dart R/T would carry a base price of $23,290, including $795 in destination charges. Despite offering essentially the same content, the rechristened 2013 Dart GT will be priced from $21,790, including destination. Dodge's naming confusion also results in a neat $1500 price break for interested customers. Look for the 2013 Dart GT to (finally) go on sale in the second quarter of 2013.