Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Dodge Hopes New Dart Hits the Bull's-Eye

Bringing back name from the past is an well worn approach in the auto industry. After all, the instant name recognition is a huge boost in a business where brand awareness and acceptance is everything. So it's not surprising the higher ups at Chrysler are replacing the woeful Dodge Caliber with a new compact car that will be called the Dodge Dart.

The automaker released teaser images of the Dart today with the full unveiling coming at the in Detroit next month.

2013 Dodge Dart

It won't take much for the new Dart to be more successful than the Caliber.

This year, Caliber sales are down 21%, with 33,632 being sold. Sure you could argue the Caliber has been dying on the vine for some time. Let's be a little more candid. It was a forgettable car that never resonated with buyers.

Will the new Dodge Dart be different? It's too soon to tell. It will be built off of Fiat architecture and is being billed as fuel efficient compact sedan. But will the Dart sell as well as the original Dart? Between 1960 and 1976, Chrysler sold more than 4.3 million Darts. The high water mark was 1970, when nearly 300,000 Darts were sold.

Admittedly, Chrysler bringing back the Dart name is different than Ford bringing back the Taurus name in 2007. The Taurus had not been gone for long, and CEO Alan Mulally realized a Ford Taurus would get a lot more interest than the Ford 500.

Chrysler will start building the Dodge Dart in the first quarter of next year, and we'll see it in showrooms by late spring.


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