Oakland, Maryland, United States
For the fourth year in a row, Mopar is offering a limited-production car decked with a plenty of add-ons and a unique look. This year's black-and-blue car is the Mopar '13 Dart, which was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show with the now-signature paint scheme. Like previous Mopar models, only 500 of the '13 Darts will be built. Past models include the Mopar '10 Challenger, Mopar '11 Charger and the Mopar '12 300.
The all-black Dart gets a brightly contrasting, offset blue stripe running the full length of the car, and other styling mods like the aero-tuned body kit, gloss black grille, wheels and mirror caps. Curiously, Mopar chose to stick with the Dart's standard headlights rather than the darker, smoked lights. The interior gets a similar black-and-blue treatment, but this unique cabin features a blue leather driver's seat to go along with the black leather seating for the rest of the passengers.
More than just a styling package, the Mopar '13 Dart also gets some performance and handling goodies to complement the Dart's turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, such as upgraded brakes with slotted rotors, a lowered suspension, retuned electric power steering and a "sport-tuned" exhaust system.
The Dodge Dart, Cadillac XTS and Lincoln MKS all failed to earn a "Recommended" rating from Consumer Reports. When it came to the compact Dart, the organization's testers thought the vehicle offered a quiet cabin, solid-feeling chassis and nimble suspension, but the new model ultimately fell short of the coveted rating due to powertrain issues. The institute's reviewers found the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to be underpowered and noted "drivability issues" when the available turbocharged 1.4-liter four was paired with the optional dual-clutch transmission (some of our editors disliked it paired with the six-speed manual). CR also dinged the latter powerplant for sounding "raspy." For what it's worth, we think the forced-induction engine offers an excellent and playful exhaust note, but that's just us.
As for the XTS, CR lauded the car for its luxurious cabin, but the vehicle's experience was dulled by its finicky CUE infotainment interface. Overall, the big Cadillac scored much higher than its cross-town rival from Lincoln. While testers found the American luxury sedan to offer a quiet ride and quality fit and finish, they felt the MKS delivered a "cramped driving position, ungainly handling, uncomposed ride, and limited visibility." Ouch. At the end of the day, both cars fell short of rivals from Japan, Germany and Korea. Check out the full press release below with more details, along with CR's musings on the Chevrolet Spark and Lexus ES.
Chrysler has issued a recall of 278,222 light trucks and sport utility vehicles here in the United States. The reason: bad rear axles. Specifically, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the rear axle pinion nut may lack a necessary adhesive patch, which could cause the nut to loosen. If this happens, the axle can lock up, which could cause all sorts of havoc on the road.
This is an expansion of the rear axle recall announced in October of last year, where 44,300 Ram 1500 and Dodge Dakota models were being called in. At that time, 12 accidents had been reported due to the faulty axle pinion nut.
Affected vehicles include Ram 1500 trucks from the 2009 to 2012 model years, Dodge Dakota models from the 2009 to 2011 model years, and both the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUV twins, both from the 2009 model year only.