Dodge crossover combines fresh styling with versatility
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The Dodge Caliber really looks distinctive and unique. This is one case where the marketing message meets the metal.
The snout is bold and sculpted, as is the rear. Large headlamps and tail lamps dominate the corners. Prominent, squared shoulders and protruding wheel arches give the impression the Caliber is larger than it actually is. The high shoulders add to the sturdy stance, although they do reduce the driver’s view of curbs and small objects nearby.
SE, SXT, R/T and SRT4 trim levels are available, with a 5-speed manual, continuously variable automatic transmission or, on the latter, a 6-speed manual. All-wheel-drive is available on the R/T model.
Inside, the Caliber doesn’t seem like a compact. The front compartment is spacious, and the 60/40 split rear seats are comfortable for two. Legroom is limited for the middle passenger because of the floor-mounted rear cup holders.
On the SXT and R/T models, the rear seatbacks recline up to 12 degrees to aid passenger comfort and fold flat to extend the cargo area. As well, the front passenger seatback folds forward to extend cargo capacity even more. With the seats up, the Caliber offers 525 litres (18.5 cu-ft) of cargo capacity. Fold the rear seats down and the space expands to 1,360 litres (48.0 cu-ft).
The instrument panel features a gauge cluster that lights up with a blue electro-luminescent glow at night. The gauges are white with black graphics and red pointers that are reminiscent of motorcycle instruments. A blue light also surrounds the front cup holders, making them a cinch to see in the dark.
The cargo area has a removable load floor that’s easy to clean. The rear hatch on our tester included the innovative swing-down rear speakers that come with the optional MusicGate Power Premium Sound System.
ABS brakes are optional with the CVT2 transmission on the SE and SXT models and standard on the R/T. Safety features on all models include advanced, multi-stage airbags and an inflatable knee blocker on the driver’s side. Side-curtain airbags also are standard. As a result, the Caliber has received five stars in NHTSA front and side crash test ratings.
There are three 4-cylinder engine choices: 1.8-, 2.4-litre and 2.4 turbo, with 148, 172, and 300 hp respectively.
Handling is fairly precise, and although the front end of the Caliber has a heavy feel, it’s nimble through the corners and tracks straight on the highway.
Anyone looking for great value, good fuel economy, good performance, versatile storage capacity and innovative features should take aim at the Caliber.
2007 Dodge Caliber R/T AWD