• First government safety assessment for all-new Dart.
  • Received top 5-star rating in front and side crash tests.
  • Ten airbags included as standard equipment.

The all-new 2013 Dodge Dart, a compact 4-door sedan, earned the federal government's top safety rating in recent crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Dart a 5-star overall rating. According to the NHTSA, the Dart is among the safest vehicles in its class.

NHTSA conducts crash tests and evaluates results on dozens of vehicles every year. Its latest battery of assessments includes a catalog of a vehicle's safety equipment, front and side impact crash tests and a rollover test. Those results are compiled to determine an overall score.

Its 5-star overall rating means that the Dart offers a significantly higher level of safety than is mandated by law. It also suggests that, relative to other vehicles of the same size, the Dart offers excellent occupant protection. Although the Dart scored four of five stars in the rollover test--still a laudable rating--its top scores in the front and side impact tests pushed its overall rating to the top.

Dodge attributes several factors to the Dart's 5-star overall rating. Notably, the Dart is equipped with 10 standard airbags, more than any other vehicle in its class. Those include dual-stage front airbags, knee airbags and pelvic and thorax airbags for the driver and front passenger. Rear-seat passengers are protected by torso airbags, and all passengers also benefit from the protection of side curtain airbags for both rows.

Dodge's use of high-strength steel in the construction of the 2013 Dart also adds to its safety. Automakers are increasingly turning to the strong-but-lightweight alloy to reduce weight--which improves fuel economy--without sacrificing safety. The body of the 2013 Dodge Dart is 68 percent high-strength steel.

NHTSA safety ratings are included on the window sticker of every new car. The agency says its ratings allow consumers to make apples-to-apples safety comparisons between different manufacturers' models. NHTSA says the 5-star system also encourages automakers to voluntarily design safer cars. To keep the playing field level and fair, manufacturers do not supply test vehicles to the NHTSA. Instead, the agency buys the test vehicles directly from dealers all around the country.

A handful of other compact cars, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra, also enjoy 5-star safety ratings. This suggests that the NHTSA's strategy is working. Automakers are meeting consumer demand for safer cars, building occupant protection into even their smaller and more economical models.

What it means to you: You can compare new-car safety between models using 5-star federal safety ratings printed on every window sticker. In the compact sedan category, the all-new Dodge Dart has the government's top safety rating.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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