The Caliber, a five-seat, four-door hatchback, competes in a class that includes the Saturn Astra, Toyota Matrix and Volkswagen Rabbit. The Caliber has a high-performance SRT4 model, as well as SE, SXT and R/T trim levels.
New for 2009
The 2009 Dodge Caliber has eliminated its all-wheel-drive option and added new sound insulation for a quieter ride.
The Caliber is clearly a Dodge, thanks to the crosshair grille. The Caliber has very large wheels for a car of its size and class. A black rail that runs from the base of the A-pillars and along the roofline to the taillights tricks the eye into seeing a lower, sleeker shape. Despite the look, the Caliber actually sits a bit higher than most compact cars.
Overall length is 173.8 inches and width is 68.8 inches. That's slightly narrower than its competitors, but the Caliber is the longest of the four by a couple of inches.
- 15-inch steel wheels with silver-painted wheel covers (SE)
- 17-inch painted aluminum wheels (standard on SXT, optional on SE)
- 18-inch aluminum or chrome-clad wheels (R/T)
- Body-colored grille and front and rear bumpers, optional body-colored door handles (all trim levels have black side mirrors)
- Larger grille opening, unique rear spoiler and 19-inch wheels (SRT4)
Designed to compete with some of the nicer compact models on the market, the interior has decent-quality materials and two-tone color schemes, even in the base trim level. Whether the transmission is manual or automatic, the shifter juts out from the dashboard's center control panel. The cargo floor is plastic, similar to that of the Matrix and Vibe, to ease cleaning. The SRT4 has a separate turbo boost gauge, sport seats with deeper bolstering, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a short-throw gearshift lever.
Interior volume comes in at 95.2 cubic feet. Cargo space behind the rear seats is 18.5 cubic feet, but with the standard 60/40-split folding seats down it expands to 48 cubic feet. The Caliber packs more passenger and cargo volume than the Rabbit and Astra, though it trails the Matrix's 114 cubic feet of passenger volume and 61.5 cubic feet of cargo space (with the rear seats folded).
- Standard center armrest with hidden cell phone/MP3 holder
- Standard illuminated cupholder rings
- Available stain-repellent cloth or leather seats
- Available power mirrors, windows and speed-sensitive door locks
- Available cooled-beverage bin
- Available fold-flat front passenger seat
- Optional voice-activated navigation and/or audio system (including touch-screen, voice commands, 30GB hard drive and navigation radio)
Under the Hood
The Caliber packs either a 1.8-, 2.0- or 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, with EPA-estimated fuel economy of 28/32 mpg city/highway, 26/30 mpg and 23/26 mpg, respectively. The SRT4 model packs a 2.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder.
The Caliber is available with a manual or continuously variable automatic transmission. The SRT4 can only be had with a high-performance manual.
- 148-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 125 pounds-feet of torque (SE, SXT)
- 158-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 141 pounds-feet of torque (SE, SXT)
- 172-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 165 pounds-feet of torque (R/T)
- 285-hp, turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 265 pounds-feet of torque (SRT4)
- Five-speed manual transmission (SE, SXT, R/T)
- Six-speed manual (SRT4)
- Continuously variable automatic transmission (all models except SRT4)
- Disc/drum brakes (SE, SXT), all-disc brakes (optional on SXT, standard on R/T and SRT4)
The Caliber comes with a unique-for-its-class driver's knee airbag designed to keep the driver positioned properly for the other primary restraints. An electronic stability system and traction control are optional on most models, but the stability system is standard on the SRT4.
- Standard side curtain airbags
- Standard Smart Key that immobilizes the engine in an attempted auto theft
- Available all-speed traction control and electronic stability control
- Available antilock braking system
- Available supplemental seat-mounted side-impact airbags
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