Found: The missing Dart, with new name, lower price
When the 2013 Dart was launched last spring, Dodge dealers were told to expect a high-performance Dart R/T in September. It never showed up, and until last week there were few clues to the whereabouts of the mystery machine.
Turns out the car will arrive this summer -- under an alias -- in the form of the Dart GT. The GT miraculously appeared last week with all the power and the promised goodies of the R/T, but with a price several thousand dollars lower.
So how does an R/T morph into a GT?
Apparently for Dodge, the answer is that rivals, like Ford, were coming to market with performance compact sedans that were more powerful and less expensive than the planned R/T.
Chrysler Group announced last week that the 2013 Dodge Dart GT will be powered by Chrysler's 2.4-liter Tigershark engine teamed, at first, with either a six-speed automatic or a manual transmission. The combination produces 184-hp and 174 pounds-feet of torque.
If those numbers look familiar, they should: They were the exact powertrain specs for the promised Dodge Dart R/T.
And the GT gets all of the goodies that were to be standard on the R/T: an 8.4-inch center stack infotainment system, leather seats, racetrack LED lighting and a 7-inch instrument cluster screen, to name a few.
What's different is the price tag. The GT will sticker for $21,790, including freight -- several thousand dollars below the likely sticker of the R/T.
A Chrysler spokeswoman admitted the GT was identical to the planned R/T in every way except the price, and said the "competitive landscape" in the segment had changed since the Dart launched last June.
In announcing the GT model, Dodge said it "continues to investigate a high-performance R/T model."
But "investigate" isn't the same as "will deliver." Dodge may one day offer a Dart R/T. But it won't be soon, since their last R/T plan left the design house with a new name.