This week we’re looking at the 2007 Dodge Caliber R/T and will look at the Honda Element next time because they are in the same price range even if they technically are not in the same class. The Caliber is considered a compact car but crossovers are beginning to blur with smaller SUV’s. So the competition is a mix of the two classes.
Overall I felt a comfort and ease driving the Caliber but couldn’t help but wonder what the product will be like with new ownership of Chrysler. It is impossible to separate the two thoughts – the car today that is a product of a well respected company with great design and management skills and what about tomorrow with the unknown?
Chrysler has been like the proverbial ‘football’ – that has gone through stable years and then the past few decades has been on a roller coaster ride.
Parts – U.S/ Canadian 63%, Mexico 22%.
Assembly – Belvidere, Illinois, USA
Class: -Compact Car
Cars: – Avenger, Caliber, Caravan, Charger, Dakota, Durango, Magnum, Nitro, Ram 15, 25 and 3500, Sprinter Van and Wagon and Viper.
The entire American auto industry has been anything but stable as a whole. The disturbing part of the story is the way the American people have been caught up in taking sides in this war of car makers. Yes American carmakers got cocky in the good years with unbridled growth because of the love affair Americans had with their cars. Freedom personified. But that freedom has cost us a lot. We spawned an industry that sucked up more and more fuel and the we became indentured to oil rich countries who are bent on our destruction. What’s sick is they’re using our money to beat us up with and we keep doing it. What’s that all about? Is our government worthy of our trust? I think we all know the answer to that question.
Handling & Performance:
Good cornering because of the lower center of gravity of a sedan even though if feels so much like a small SUV. It is, however a little sluggish in passing situations as it sounds like the engine is really straining which is in part caused by the heavy R/T with all wheel drive. But if you don’t mind that occasionally then it is smooth and quiet on the highway.
Today styling – know what I mean. Designers are either copy cats or way out there like the Scion from Toyota ore Honda’s Element. Of course Mercedes Benz had to get into the square box kick with the G Class but at a price nearly SIX times … that’s 6 times the cost of the Element or Scion. But this ‘Crossover’ Caliber is conforming to the competition which is a bit unusual for Chrysler. They are generally more adventurous.
Fit and Finish:
Usual and expected. Nothing to write home about but good.
Someone asked me last night if cars are getting cheaper. Einstein’s theory of Relativity applies here. Relative to the past the answer is that you get much more than the price increases have been. Food is a good example except for water that has increased in cost more than gasoline. In other words, cars have never been more affordable.
Conveniences and comfort:
Reminder for cell users in the car to start early and get headsets for hands free use as our wise legislators passed a law that will impose high fines if caught holding the phone to your ear. I guess we’re so comfortable in our cars today we expect we can do just about anything – and DO – while we’re driving. This is a good law, I believe, because people have taken this homey atmosphere for granted and the reality is that you are 60 times more likely to die in a car accident than if you served in Iraq. So eliminating distractions is a good thing while you’re driving.
Options include a neat ‘Chill Zone’ for cooled (up to four 20 oz. Bottles or cans) beverages. Finally you don’t have to drink warm water on those hot days.
If you want a small SUV or station wagon but with the handling characteristics of a sedan, this is the ticket. When you look at the competition you’ll notice the blur in distinction in classes between sedans and SUVs that has evolved.
If you’re interested in the Caliber you may want to look into the Caliber SRT4 front wheel drive that will be out soon. It is a 300 horsepower turbocharged version of the R/T engine. Expected invoice cost will be about $25,000.
Dodge Caliber $14-20,000, Ford Focus Wagon $17-18,000, Ford Focus $14-17,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $13-20,000, Hyundai Accent $10-14,000, Mazda 3 $14-20,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Nissan Sentra $15-20,000, Kia Rio 5 $13,750, Subaru Impreza Wagon $18-27,000, Mitsubishi Lancer$14-17,000, Jeep Patriot $14-21,000, Pontiac Vibe $16,760, Toyota Matrix $15-17,000, Kia Rondo $16-20,000, 2008 Scion xB $15,650.
Improved fuel economy, comfortable, clean design.
Slide sun visors don’t extend far enough, noticeable road noise and obstructed rear and side views.
2.4 liter 172 hp inline 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, dual front air bags and front and rear side curtain bags, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, rear window defroster, rear fold flat forward seat, rear 60/40 split reclining seat, theft deterrent system, front passenger fold flat seat, intermittent wipers, rear washer wiper, sliding sun visors, soft tonneau cover rear cargo area, tilt steering column, stereo with CD player, Sirius satellite digital radio feature with 1 year included, power mirrors, keyless entry, liftgate door with fixed glass, air conditioning with chill zone storage, halogen headlights.
leather trimmed heated front bucket seats, manual driver lumbar, continuous variable transaxle with auto stick auto transmission.
$3.15/ Gal avg. June 26 ‘07
for more information
24 City and 27 Highway MPG
MSRP $17,820 with options $20,470.
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