Even though the Dodge Dart nameplate of the '60s and '70s has been revived and the all-new 2013 model is finally ready, the one that's really worth waiting for is still on hold. That's not to say the plain Jane version of the Dart is a bad car. The exterior is a little bland for a sport compact, but Dodge has chosen to concentrate its resources elsewhere -- namely, driver experience, rather than pleasing onlookers.
Buyers of the 2013 base model Dart have two options. There's a 2.0-liter engine that provides 160-horsepower, and a 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder, turbo that also puts out 160-horsepower -- but quite a bit more torque. Dodge claims the Dart is "the most technologically advanced vehicle in its class," with an especially spacious interior and top-notch security features that outpace its competition in the compact car class [source: Dodge]. If that's what you're shopping for, by all means, go ahead.
But if you want a 2.4-liter, 4-banger that delivers 184-horsepower (dubbed TigerShark), you have to wait for the R/T version, due to arrive in early 2013. Your patience will be rewarded with telltale black exterior accents, 18-inch alloy wheels and a leather interior with a power adjustable driver's seat -- plus all the "technologically advanced" stuff found in the base model. (More patience, more money, more lust for power? Wait a bit longer for the possible SRT-4 edition, which is rumored to arrive even later in 2013 and could pack about 300-horsepower under the hood.)
Manufacturers have to be cautious when they revive a name like the Dart, but it suits this car: quick, efficient and easily underestimated. And its target audience is too young to remember the original, anyway.