The Dodge Caliber is a five-door compact or C-segment hatchback sold from 2006 to 2012 as a replacement for Dodge Neon and Chrysler PT Cruiser. It was first revealed in 2006 at the North American International Auto Show in its pre-production stage. The Dodge Calibers rolled off from the assembly plants in Illinois, USA and Carabobo, Venezuela with a total of just above 500,000 units produced.
Dodge based the Caliber on Chrysler's PM/MK platform, the same used for the Mitsubishi Lancer, Jeep Compass, and Jeep Patriot. It had a transversely-mounted front-engine, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive layout. Continuously variable transmission (CVT2) was available along with an optional electronically-controlled all-wheel-drive system with variable torque speeds. Its dimensions measure: length 4415mm, width 1748mm, height 1534mm, and a curb weight of 1384kg.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated Caliber with the highest score of Good in moderate-overlap front-impact, Marginal in side-impact, Acceptable in roof strength, and Marginal in head restraints and seat safety. Its safety suite includes front and side curtain airbags as standard, while torso side airbags were optional. The model tested by IIHS for side-impact did not feature torso side airbags.
The standard trim level included 3x3 point rear seat belts, ABS, alarm, body-colored bumpers, CD, driver’s airbag, folding rear seats, front electric windows, front fog lights, PAS, passenger’s airbag, rear electric windows, remote locking, side airbags, and space-saver spare wheel.
The SXT trim level added air conditioning, alloy wheels, cruise control, height-adjustable driver's seat, leather seat trim, keyless entry, electric mirrors, heated mirrors, and tachometer.
The R/T special model came with CVT2 transmission, and AutoStick feature, 18-inch aluminium wheels, with an optional chromed variant, ABS, as well as performance-tuned suspension and steering systems. External changes included special body-color, chrome door handles, side moulding and exhaust tip, front fog lights, and R/T badge.
The SRT4 was the top performance-oriented model, with high output 2.4L DOHC 16-valve turbocharged engine. Dodge slated it to replace the original Chrysler's Neon-based SRT-4 and compete with Volkswagen Golf GTI and Mazdaspeed3. It used a Getrag six-speed manual transmission transferred power to the front wheels. This model had MacPherson strut suspension for the front and a multilink rear suspension in the back. The 34cm ventilated front discs with dual-piston callipers and 30cm rear single-piston disc brakes provided plenty of stopping capability.
The Dodge Caliber received a series of updates through the years, with the first one in 2009. Car-colored handles replaced the plastic black-colored handles, while black interior panels replaced the previous grey color. This update also reduced the weight of the trunk lid and simplified its opening system.
In 2010, it received further interior updates, with the use of metallic and glass accents to reduce the plastic look, an 8-way power driver's seat, heated mirrors, and automatic climate control. Due to complaints, Dodge repositioned the glove box to the spot over the radio panel. The 1.8L engine and the SRT-4 models were discontinued, while Europe received a new 2.2L diesel engine. USA versions received the badges of Main Street, Heat, and Rush, with the addition of the luxury Uptown and base Express models.
2011 brought new color options, stability control as standard, 18-inch chrome wheels on luxury models, updated steering, as well as updated shocks and anti-roll bar.
In 2012, model names reverted to SE, SXT, and SXT Plus, which included all of SXT options as well as 18-inch aluminium wheels with performance tyres, and a 6-way power-adjustable driver's seat.
In Australia, the available power options were:
- 1.8L World inline-four petrol engine producing 110kW (148hp) and 169Nm of torque, paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox
- 2.0L World inline-four petrol engine producing 118kW (158hp) and 191Nm of torque, paired with the continuously variable transmission (CVT2)
- 2.4L World inline-four petrol engine producing 128kW (172hp) and 224Nm of torque, paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox
- 2.0L VW TDI BKD inline-four turbo diesel engine producing 103kW (138hp) and 310Nm of torque, paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox
- 2.0L VW TDI BMR inline-four turbo diesel engine producing 125kW (168hp) and 310Nm of torque, paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox
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Author: Luka Kusic