APRIL FOOLS! Yeah, it’s a pretty lame joke. But our spy photographer friends caught the compact Dodge sedan testing on the roads near the Chrysler Technical Center (CTC) in Auburn Hills, Michigan. While it is common to see vehicles that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) sells in different markets out testing near the CTC campus, it was nice to see a car that holds the nameplate of such a beloved Dodge vehicle on U.S. roads again.
The Fiat Tipo-based Dodge Neon is sold in both the Mexican and Middle Eastern markets. The Dodge Neon is aimed squarely vehicles like the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze (both of which have been recently axed from the North American market). The Neon is powered by a 110 horsepower 1.6-liter e.torQ SOHC four-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic.
While the Dodge Neon is sold is both the Middle East and Mexico, there is a subtle difference between the two offerings. The Mexican Neon uses a similar Uconnect system that is built into the dash as the Fiat 500, while the Middle East version uses a table-like Uconnect screen that floats out of the dash. Both versions of the Dodge Neon are built in Turkey at the Tofaş Assembly Plant, the same plant that manufacturers the Ram ProMaster City.
The Neon features front and rear McPherson struts that ensure a high level of comfort and driving stability. Standard features include Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), Mechanical-Slip Regulation (MSR), and Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPM) and Hill Start Assist to prevent creep back on an incline. A rear camera and back-up sensors help while parking and the passenger side door mirror can be flipped downwards when reversing so that the driver can see the curb and any children playing near the car (something found on the much larger Dodge Charger sedan).
Dodge Neon features front airbags for the driver and front-seat passenger plus curtain and seat-side airbags make an important addition to occupant safety. Add to these three-point belts on all five seats, force limiters and belt tensioners on the front seats and anchor points for child seats and the Neon’s safety levels go right to the top of its class. In addition, all the doors are automatically unlocked if any of the six airbags gets activated.
Standard on Neon is front disc brakes and rear drum brakes, but the system still offers a responsive, smooth, progressive stopping. Also standard are 16-inch aluminum wheels with 205/55R16 tires, that provides precise handling but also a smoother ride and more comfort for the Neon’s passengers.
Dodge starts pricing the Neon for the Mexico-market at $239,900 MXN or about $12,400 USD (or about $16,500 CAD). While we won’t be getting the Dodge Neon anytime soon in the United States or Canada, it is good to know that if the market does switch back to a car dominant market, Dodge can easily bring a small car to the market.