Dodge Unveils Dart Compact, Promises 9-Speed Transmission, 40 MPG

I’ve often wondered aloud just how Chrysler plans to meet the 2016 fuel efficiency goals. They don’t have a single hybrid or EV in their lineup, and their aging compact, the Caliber, is inefficient and outdated compared to the crop of modern compacts that has inundated the market. Yesterday though Dodge revealed teaser shots of its new compact, called the Dart, which will have a 9-speed auto and get upwards of 40 mpg.

It has been rumored for months that the Alfa Romeo Guilietta would underpin a new Dodge compact car (Fiat owns Alfa.) The pictures and press release confirms that, and adds other details like engine options. A 1.4 liter turbo joins a 2.0 lite engineer and 2.4 liter engine, the latter two codenamed “Tigershark.” Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne also announced the Dart would be eventually offered with a 9-speed automatic transmission that would boost the Dart’s MPG numbers well into the 40’s.

I’d also like to add that I love the name choice. For me it rekindles images of the rear-wheel drive Dodge Dart of the 60’s, though the name has been out of circulation for over two-decades. The new Dart will be front-wheel drive, but could offer AWD and up to 232 horsepower, in addition to the 9-speed automatic transmission.

So are transmissions the crux of Chrysler’s plans? The new Chrysler 300 will be getting an 8-speed automatic transmission that will deliver up to 31 mpg with the V6 engine. That’s pretty good for a full-size sedan, and the Dart holds a lot of promise (depending on what the whole picture looks like.) However, the 9-speed auto won’t be available until later on; when production begins, the Dart will offer a six-speed double clutch automatic.

But it isn’t even close to enough. Chrysler is toying with the idea of a hybrid 300 as well, but the Dart is going to face some stuff competition in the compact segment. But if it looks good and delivers an efficient, spirited driving performance, it could rise to the top of the pack. Chrysler really needs a winner in this segment; does the Dart have what it takes?

Dodge | Automotive News

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.