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Mopar '13 Dart will roll into Chicago next week

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 00:01:00 EST

We think this officially counts as a tradition. Every year going back to 2010, Mopar has rolled out a limited edition version of a popular product from the Chrysler Group portfolio. First it was the Mopar '10 Challenger, then the Mopar '11 Charger, then last year's Mopar '12 300, and this year it will be the Mopar '13 Dart, which will make its official world debut next week at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show.
Limited in number to just 500 units, the Mopar '13 Dart is no mere appearance package, though the demeanor of the Dart will be murdered out with a gloss black finish, gloss black 18-inch wheels, a set of Mopar blue stripes and a mean-looking Mopar ground effects kit. Likewise, the interior is touched up with leather seats (a blue one for the driver and black hides for the passengers), gloss black and black chrome trim, blue accent stitching, a sport pedal kit and other Mopar interior accessories.
Turning our attention back to the mechanical bits, the Mopar '13 Dart comes with the car's most powerful engine, a turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir four (shared with Fiat 500 Abarth) that's paired with a manual transmission. Those big, black wheels get wrapped in low profile 225/40R18 performance tires, and keeping everything in check is an upgraded brake kit with slotted rotors. The steering has also been calibrated for performance, the suspension lowered seven millimeters, and the exhaust tuned for better engine breathing.

Chrysler earns $1.7B in 2012, revises product plans for US

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 10:59:00 EST

Hot on the heels of Ford's earnings announcement for the year that was, Chrysler today reported a 2012 net income of $1.7 billion, up substantially from the comparatively minuscule $183 million profit earned in 2011 when it repaid its US government loans.
Chrysler's good year ended with an excellent fourth quarter that saw net income rise 68 percent from $225 million in 2011 to $378 million. Where are all those extra earnings coming from? Market share, which Chrysler saw increase to 11.4% last year on sales of 1.65 million vehicles. In fact, the Auburn Hills, MI-based automaker out-paced the industry's market growth of 13 percent last year with sales up 21 percent for the year.
The company also revealed an updated product plan for its Chrysler Group and Fiat brands that looks all the way out to 2016. It's an updated version of the plan introduced in 2009 shortly after Fiat took control of the American automaker, and includes such new additions as an Alfa Romeo model, likely the 4C, to be introduced in the US this year, as well five more Alfa models by 2016. Likewise, Fiat will be growing by an additional seven models in the coming few years.

2013 Dodge Charger AWD Sport

Tue, 29 Jan 2013 14:59:00 EST

We won't beat around the bush: The all-wheel-drive Dodge Charger is not a brand new car. This generation launched in 2011, AWD models and all. But for 2013, Chrysler has added an optional sport package to the AWD model, available with both the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 or the sweet, sweet 5.7-liter Hemi V8. The upgrades for this new sport pack are mainly cosmetic; a gloss black grille, new 19-inch alloy wheels and body-colored rear spoiler make up the list of exterior changes. Inside, there are new sport seats and paddle shifters, and the eight-speed automatic transmission has been reflashed for better performance.
But because vehicles like the Dodge Charger mainly stick out in our minds as being rear-drive bruisers, Chrysler wanted to give us the opportunity to test out the LX platform's foul-weather prowess. And perhaps no place more appropriate to test such a system was way up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in the dead of winter.
Driving Notes

Is Mopar readying a special-edition Dart for Chicago?

Sat, 26 Jan 2013 10:59:00 EST

Chrysler has released the above teaser of a limited-edition Mopar 2013 model that will be unveiled at next month's Chicago Auto Show. Although the automaker doesn't announce what vehicle will get the Mopar treatment, closer investigation of the seats and center console suggest that this car will be a special version of the 2013 Dodge Dart.
This will be the fourth Mopar model in as many years, following on the heels of the Mopar 2010 Challenger, Mopar 2011 Charger and the Mopar '2012 300. There are no details for the Mopar '13 Dart, but we do see that the car will retain the signature black-and-blue color scheme as past Mopar editions. Like these previous models, we expect production of Mopar '13 Dart to be limited to just 500 units.
Scroll down for Chrysler's press release teasing the new Mopar model, and we'll be sure to bring you plenty of live images from the show floor in a couple weeks.

Dodge Dart Registry helps you crowdsource money for your next ride [w/video]

Wed, 23 Jan 2013 14:15:00 EST

To be honest, we're surprised something like this didn't pop up sooner. Chrysler is riffing on gift registries for couples getting married or expecting babies and cross-pollinating it with a social media funding website like Kickstarter to help customers buy its 2013 Dodge Dart. The Dodge Dart Registry allows people to build and customize a new Dart exactly how they want it, then let other people purchase some or all of the components as gifts.
The registry lets you add features like dark headlights, dual exhaust, various wheels and even interior options without choosing a specific trim level. This sounds a lot like the system Scion uses to let its customers configure cars, and this could be a great idea for Dodge. Of course, this system has the added benefit of being a social media affair for you to share with your friends... you know, so they can help pay for some of the parts, too.
The best thing about the registry is that you can configure your dream Dart from the comfort of your home computer, which strikes us as much better than walking around Bed, Bath and Beyond for the better part of an afternoon with an electronic scanner. The one thing that Dodge doesn't offer? "Thank You" cards. Those are on you.

Autoblog Podcast #317

Wed, 23 Jan 2013 17:50:00 EST

Mitsubishi Mirage, Toyota thinks of beefing up US production, Marchionne on Alfa, Dart and minivans, Ford Atlas concept, Honda Gear concept
Episode #317 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Jeff Ross and Michael Harley bookend the other podcast topics with a pair from the Montreal Auto Show, the Mitsubishi Mirage and Honda Gear concept, and in between we talk about Toyota building all its US-market cars stateside, Hyundai building a Nurburgring test facility, Sergio Marchionne's latest words about Alfa Romeo, Dodge Dart powertrains and the future of Chrysler vans. Some chatter about the Ford Atlas concept finishes up the meat of the 'cast and then we wrap with your questions. For those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Keep reading for our Q&A module for you to scroll through and follow along, too. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #317:

Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #317 LIVE!

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 18:30:00 EST

We record Autoblog Podcast #317 tonight, and you can drop us your questions and comments regarding the rest of the week's news via our Q&A module below. Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so, and if you want to take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #317
Mitsubishi Mirage

Chrysler expecting up to 200,000 9-speed transmissions for 3 models this year

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 08:46:00 EST

Striving for improved fuel economy, we already knew that Chrysler will begin using a nine-speed automatic transmission in some of its new products this year, but what we haven't known is that volume at which this gearbox will be used. According to Bloomberg, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been quoted as saying that the automaker expects to sell close to 200,000 units equipped with this new transmission in 2013. Those gear-rich trannies will be spread out across three models, consisting of the redesigned Chrysler 200, the still-unnamed Jeep Liberty replacement and the Dodge Dart.
This transmission should play a pivotal role in making Chrysler vehicles more competitive in their respective segments. Just for comparison, one of the Dart's key competitors, the Toyota Corolla, still uses a four-speed automatic, and a previous report indicates that the next-generation 200 could get up to 38 miles per gallon on the highway, which is better than most non-hybrid midsize sedans on the market. Marchionne says that the new Jeep model is expected during the second quarter of this year, but there is no word as to when the new 200 or nine-speed Dart will debut, but clearly Dodge would like to have the transmission in its compact yesterday. As for that volume figure, it definitely doesn't seem out of reach since the Dart, Liberty and 200 combined for a total of more than 225,000 units in 2012.
How many more gears can we expect in future cars? Probably not many more, since the CEO of transmission-builder ZF, Stefan Sommer, previously stated that nine speeds was the "natural limit" for transmissions.

Marchionne on Alfa's US return, Dodge Dart's powertrain weakness and minivan plans

Fri, 18 Jan 2013 19:01:00 EST

As a reporter covering an auto show, the one opportunity you never want to miss is going to the Sergio Marchionne press briefing.
"This undertaking to bring Alfa back is a one-shot deal... We are not going to do this twice."
There just aren't that many real characters left in the auto industry. Marchionne, who sits atop both Chrysler and Fiat, is not only one of the smartest execs in the business, but also the most frank. Herein, a sample of the quotable always-sweatered executive:

2013 Dodge Dart GT offers subtle menace in compact form

Mon, 14 Jan 2013 09:20:00 EST

Dodge has already shared all of the relevant information about its all-new 2013 Dart GT, but it wasn't until now that we've seen the car, live and in person. The slightly meaner front fascia and bigger wheels look great on the Dodge, and the red-on-black perforated seats are sporting in an aftermarket sort of way.
To recap: The Dart GT also gets a bit more power, using a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine to make 184 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. A starting price of $20,995 will get you LED taillights, dual exhaust, an 8.4-inch touchscreen and a 7.0-inch TFT display.
Feel free to re-acquaint yourselves with the full Dodge Dart GT information in the press release below, or have a leisurely browse through our gallery of live images.