Dodge Caliber 2.0 CRD SXT Sport - DODGE CALIBER Car Review


Added: 16 Jun 2007
Last update:

THEY'RE oversized, over the top and over here. The recent success of American styled cars in the UK has taken many by surprise.

The soon to be split up DaimlerChrysler group has led the invasion with the Chrysler 300C, plenty of Jeeps and the retro PT Cruiser which have all bucked the trend of some of the bland but efficient Euro-designs.

The Caliber is another case in point. Not so much a "Yank Tank", but more the armoured car variety it is still a big car that sells for the price of a mid-range Ford Focus with an entry level price of £11,695.

Dodge may be an unfamiliar name on British roads, but it is an iconic name across the rest of the world where the brand sold more than 1.4 millions vehicles worldwide in 2005 and is the eighth-biggest name in the car industry.

The Caliber is the first in a series of models from the company that has launched the Dodge brand in Europe and it simply cannot be ignored. It has been followed this year by the Avenger saloon and Nitro 4x4 with more on the drawing board.

In fact it provoked as much curiosity as some of the more exotic models you can buy.

There are four models in the initial line-up, the S, SE, SXT and the SXT Sport which offers a choice of 1.8-litre and two-litre petrol engines and a VW-sourced two-litre diesel.

It may not be to everyone's taste, but given taxation levels now being levied on four-wheel drive cars, the Caliber certainly has the look of the off-roader without the financial penalties and certainly would not look out of place next to the big 4x4s on the school run.

But the Caliber in reality is a front-wheel drive family saloon that offers loads of practicality and loads of standard equipment for the money.

The styling is aggressive with the large grille which sports the Dodge ram logo surrounded by big bold headlamps a high waistline and muscular wheel arches.

The rear end is much the same with imposing light clusters, roof spoiler and high bumper.

The interior of the car offers a functional and practical approach rather than luxury.

The interior offers a minimalist two-tone effect with most of the controls set in a central fascia. Simple yes, but effective - but like many in the Chrysler/Dodge stable the plastics feel cheap, fragile with some sharp edges.

They do have the advantage of easy maintenance, a bonus with children on board and most of the controls are in logical order.

The seats feel sturdy and comfortable and four adults have plenty of leg and headroom.

Standard equipment, even on the entry S model includes electric windows, power door mirrors that adjust and fold flat, central locking, keyless entry and immobilister, CD system. Safety features include front and side airbags.The test model adds air con, fold-flat passenger seat, fog lamps, alloy wheels two-tone cloth upholstery and auto-dim rear mirror.

An interesting option is the six-disc sound system that features nine speakers including two set in the tailgate that can swing down to play music at outdoor activities.

For practicality the Caliber offers a modest boot area that can be increased the the 60/40 split rear seats.

On the road the car feels composed the softish suspensions cushioning occupants well, body roll is also kept to a minimum for a comfortable ride.

The diesel engine is willing but slightly raucous on start up, but this soon settles down. Accleration is brisk with the 0-60 second sprint achieved in under ten seconds and a believable 46mpg official fuel economy. Emissions of 161g/km also make it an attractive company option.

There are already quite a few Calibers on the road and that's a good start for Dodge. Can this be kept up is the question?


Dodge Caliber 2.0D SXT Sport

Price: £15,785

Mechanical: 138bhp, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox

Max speed: 115mph

0-62mph: 8.8 secs

Combined mpg:46.3

Insurance group: 8

CO2 emissions: 161g/km

BiK rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

Words: Bill McCarthy

Keywords: dodge, caliber