The Dodge Caliber replaces the Neon sedan in the brand's model lineup, but about the only similarities between this sporty hatchback and the old sedan are that it will be built in the same factory in Illinois, and that a high-performance version will be available.
The Caliber is the entry-level model for Dodge, though it doesn't look anything like an economy car. Instead, the Caliber is a five-door hatchback/wagon/crossover sport utility cleverly disguised to look more like a racy, four-door hardtop. Caliber also has just enough aggressive attitude in its wide-fendered stance that people won't miss the Dodge crosshair grille when it appears in the rearview mirror.
Caliber is clever on the inside as well as on the outside, offering such features as Chill Zone, a cooled beverage storage bin with room for four 20-ounce bottles; MusicGate, a nine-speaker, 458-watt Boston Acoustics premium sound system with a pair of speakers that flip down from the liftgate for listening when the vehicle is parked; a flip-up holder in the center console to grasp a cell phone or iPod; and a rear cargo area light that can be removed and used as a flashlight. Caliber also offers seating for five. Not only the split rear seats but the front passenger's seat can be folded flat to enhance cargo-carrying capabilities. All 2007 Calibers are equipped with front and curtain air bags, and with an additional air bag to protect the driver's knees in a frontal impact. Seat-mounted side air bags for the driver and front passenger seats are optional.
Caliber offers four engine choices and either front- or all-wheel drivetrains. The Caliber SE and SXT have front-wheel drive and a 148-hp, 1.8L four-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission, or a 158-hp, 2.0L four with a continuously variable automatic transmission designed to enhance fuel economy. Both of these engines are rated at 30 mpg on the highway. The Caliber R/T has all-wheel drive and a 172-hp, 2.4L four-cylinder linked to the continuously variable gearbox. The Caliber SRT4 has all-wheel drive and is propelled by a 300-hp, turbocharged 2.4L four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission. According to Dodge, this model is capable of sprinting from a standing start to 60 mph in less than six seconds. The SRT4 also has 19-inch wheels and large brakes commensurate with its enhanced power.
The Dodge Caliber competes in the Compact Conventional segment, which consists of 20 models. Buyers in this segment look for fuel economy, reliability, and safety, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Avoider StudySM and the Escaped Shopper Study. SM
The top sellers in the segment during calendar year 2006, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM were the Toyota Corolla (328,699 units sold), Honda Civic (316,638), and Chevrolet Cobalt (211,449). The Dodge Caliber sold 92,224 units in 2006 in its first year on the market. Other models offered in the Compact Conventional segment include the Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Jetta, and Saturn Ion. Joining the segment in 2007 are the Pontiac G5, Suzuki SX4, and Volkswagen Rabbit.
|Base||5 speed manual||$13,850||148-hp / 1.8L 4-cyl||28/32|
|SXT||5 speed manual||$15,700||148-hp / 1.8L 4-cyl||28/32|
|R/T||5 speed manual||$17,945||172-hp / 2.4L 4-cyl||26/31|