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Dodge Dart Promises Deliverance

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DETROIT – It’s uplifting to see a good guy get a second chance.

I was thinking this as I observed Chrysler’s Matt Liddane bask , albeit discreetly, in the glow of his latest project. Liddane is vehicle line executive for the ’13 Dodge Dart.

He watched from a distance as journalists lingered around the all-new C-segment sedan some two hours after it was unveiled here at the North American International Auto Show.  And I recalled a question I put to him a month ago.

“What does this car mean to you?” I asked.

“Redemption,” he said.

Liddane was chief engineer of the much-maligned Dodge Caliber, which the Dart is meant to replace.

I remember his presentation during a media preview of the Caliber in 2007. He performed the proverbial walk-around, pointing out features that would make any engineer proud:

  • First North American-market use of hydroformed front closures and upper cross-members in a high-volume compact car.
  • First Chrysler application of hot-stamped steel in B-pillar construction.
  • First Chrysler compact car to offer side-curtain airbags as standard equipment.

These elements contributed to the Caliber’s 5-star rating according to NHTSA’s pre-2011 crash-test protocol.  But sales eventually were sideswiped by an interior rendered hostile by hard plastic surfaces, and a powertrain so lame it has been essentially junked just four years after launch.

Instead of the World Engine family that powered the Caliber, two new Tigershark engines and a turbocharged Fiat mill will hurry the Dart.

The Tigershark family is loosely based on the World Engine. No more than 12% of their parts are common.

But Liddane is not alone in regarding the Dart as a second chance. The car represents a second chance for his 56,000 fellow Chrysler employees.

Whether or not they make good should be known in the coming months.

Discuss this Blog Entry 4

on Jul 4, 2012

Well if you gonna revive something it has to make the cut. The car is with the generation of the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro. I guess this one would fill in since most of the pony cars are getting a modern touch.

on Jul 5, 2012

With the exception that the original Dart had a HEMI engine option, didn't it?

on Jul 10, 2012

In every way Dodge continues to put its cars on top of the competition. However there are many factors that needs to consider to make a car salable. All parts of the car are very superior, like the control arm bushing which improves the handling characteristics of the car.

on Jul 20, 2012

Nice article about Dodge Dart Promises Deliverance. It is pretty nice information. Thanks for sharing.

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