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2009 Dodge Caliber

$2,146 — $9,986 USED
Hatchback
5 Seats
23-27 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 4 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Quiet cabin
  • Good handling
  • Aggressive looks (SRT4)
  • Brake response and pedal feel (SRT4)

The Bad

  • Marginal score in IIHS side-impact crash test
  • Cabin quality
  • Steering feel (SRT4)
  • Rear visibility
2009 Dodge Caliber exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2009 Dodge Caliber
  • Choice of four-cylinders
  • Manual or CVT
  • Turbo engine (SRT4)
  • All-wheel drive no longer available

Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

by Mike Hanley - A car like the Dodge Caliber SRT4 says a lot about the person driving it. Maybe not as much as the home video your friend posted of you on YouTube, but it's revealing nonetheless. What does it say? It says everyday practicality is on equal footing with performance in your world, and you're OK with that (the SRT4 is a four-door hatchback, after all).

Knowing this, it seems worthwhile to determine how this performance-oriented compact car rates when it comes to everyday livability and utility. After driving the SRT4 for more than a week, my conclusion is a mixed one. The Dodge performed admirably in some respects but suffered serious deductions in others. (Performance junkies can get more background on how the SRT4 holds up in our review of the 2008 model, which carries over mostly unchanged for 2009.)

The Good
The SRT4's turbocharged four-cylinder engine only comes with a six-speed manual transmission, but even during heavy stop-and-go commuting it's easier to drive than you might think. One of the main reasons why is that the clutch pedal isn't overly firm. The clutch also engages smoothly, so you won't have to worry about whipping your passengers' heads backward. Overall, the setup is easy to get accustomed to, and the location of the stick shift itself — right below the air conditioning controls on the dash — puts it within easy reach of your right hand.

For performance seats, the front buckets are comfortable. They're big ...

by Mike Hanley - A car like the Dodge Caliber SRT4 says a lot about the person driving it. Maybe not as much as the home video your friend posted of you on YouTube, but it's revealing nonetheless. What does it say? It says everyday practicality is on equal footing with performance in your world, and you're OK with that (the SRT4 is a four-door hatchback, after all).

Knowing this, it seems worthwhile to determine how this performance-oriented compact car rates when it comes to everyday livability and utility. After driving the SRT4 for more than a week, my conclusion is a mixed one. The Dodge performed admirably in some respects but suffered serious deductions in others. (Performance junkies can get more background on how the SRT4 holds up in our review of the 2008 model, which carries over mostly unchanged for 2009.)

The Good
The SRT4's turbocharged four-cylinder engine only comes with a six-speed manual transmission, but even during heavy stop-and-go commuting it's easier to drive than you might think. One of the main reasons why is that the clutch pedal isn't overly firm. The clutch also engages smoothly, so you won't have to worry about whipping your passengers' heads backward. Overall, the setup is easy to get accustomed to, and the location of the stick shift itself — right below the air conditioning controls on the dash — puts it within easy reach of your right hand.

For performance seats, the front buckets are comfortable. They're big and have quite a bit of side bolstering, but because they're pretty wide you won't feel squeezed when sitting in them. The driver's seat has manual adjustments that let you place it just where you want, and heated leather seats are optional.

If you plan on using the backseat as more than just a place to toss a backpack or briefcase, your passengers — even taller ones — should be comfortable on short trips. Legroom and headroom are acceptable. The seat cushioning is fairly soft, but the backrest has harder padding.

The Bad
Firm suspensions go hand-in-hand with performance cars, but the SRT4 will shake and rattle you all the way to work in the morning and on the way home at night. While the suspension keeps body motion nicely in check, it doesn't play nicely with pavement that's been roughed up by a harsh winter, as all the bumps and holes are felt in the cabin.

The other thing that starts to wear on you after a few days of driving this car is the turbo four-cylinder's droning exhaust note; it sounds like an angry vacuum cleaner, and at certain engine rpm it feels like it's boring into your skull. I like a louder exhaust note as much as the next performance-car enthusiast — just not this one.

The SRT4 offers 18.5 cubic feet of cargo room, which is more than the Mazdaspeed3 (16.5) but less than the hatchback Subaru Impreza WRX (19). My test car, however, was equipped with an option that significantly reduced its utility: The available Kicker audio system includes a subwoofer right behind the backseat that crowds the cargo area. The previous SRT4 I tested had a Boston Acoustics subwoofer stashed in the side of the cargo area wall, which, from a packaging standpoint, is better than the Kicker subwoofer's location out in the open — that space is just too valuable in a hatchback. Fortunately, the subwoofer can be removed if you need more cargo space.

The Verdict
The SRT4 has the makings of an interesting track car, but most people shopping for a performance hatchback don't have access to a racetrack. Instead, they have to make do with public roads like everyone else. For drivers in this situation, there are better choices available, like Subaru's Impreza WRX, which gains more power for 2009 and does a commendable job balancing sportiness and ride comfort.

Send Mike an email 


Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.2
32 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.4)
Performance
(4.1)
Interior Design
(4.2)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(4.1)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

I LOVE THE WAY THE CAR LOOKS AND IT DRIVES GREAT

by ALISON from Bakersfield, CA on October 19, 2018

LOTS OF AMENITIES. GREAT LOOKING VEHICLE. GREAT GAS MILEAGE. 60/40 REAR FOLDING SEAT. ILLUMINATED CUP HOLDERS. SILVER SATIN INSTRUMENT PANEL. LOVE THIS SHARP DODGE CALIBER! Read full review

(5.0)

Very reliable

by TMD from Rio Rancho, NM on July 16, 2018

This care has great value and reliability. I owned for several years and haven't had any major problems. Drives smoothly. I would recommend this car. Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2009 Dodge Caliber currently has 0 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2009 Dodge Caliber has not been tested.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Dodge

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

Latest 2009 Caliber Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Caliber received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker