Like the love child of a Durango and a
hatchback, the 2007 Dodge Caliber is surprisingly stylish, roomy and
innovative for its price. It combines the practicality of a minivan with
the efficiency of an economy car.
The coolest feature -
literally - in the 2007 Dodge Caliber is the Chill Zone, a little
compartment by the glove box that keeps bottled drinks cold. Other neat
features include a foldout stereo for tailgate parties, a 110-volt AC
outlet and a holder for your iPod built into the armrest.
When you think of an
innovative car, you probably imagine something expensive. Innovation and
price usually go hand in hand because the more you pay for a car, the
more cool gadgets you expect it to have.
Seems logical, right?
Well, Dodge turned
logic on its head when it created the 2007 Caliber. It's an extremely
affordable car, with a base price slightly less than $13,500, but it's
also one of the most innovative vehicles I've driven in a long time.
It's a fantastic
replacement for Dodge's ho-hum economy car, the Neon, which will no
longer be sold after 2006.
For starters, the
Caliber has a style and body layout like no other car on the road,
resulting in an eye-catching look and more usable space than other cars
in this ultra-cheap class.
From the outside, it
looks like the Caliber is divided in half at the windshield. Everything
in front of the windshield is styled like an SUV, and everything behind
it looks like a European sports hatchback, resulting in a car that
doesn't seem as dorky as most hatchbacks nor as portly as most SUVs.
It also results in a
surprisingly roomy interior. The front seats are perfectly comfortable,
and the back seats leave a little more legroom and a lot more headroom
than you'd expect to find in a subcompact car. Everything is laid out
efficiently with lots of nooks and crannies for storing things. You'll find some cool
innovations inside, too.
One is a small
compartment that keeps drinks cold while you drive. It's not a real
refrigerator like you'd find on a hyper-expensive luxury car, but it
will keep four 20-ounce bottles nice and chilly on a road trip. Best of
all, it's not an expensive optional feature that you won't be able to
afford. It comes at no charge on every Caliber that has air
Some other unusual
features are related to the sound system. It comes with an iPod holder
that flips out of the armrest, perfect for holding your MP3 player or
cell phone for easy access. And if you opt for an upgraded stereo, it
comes with foldout speakers designed for tailgating or having an
impromptu party behind your car. There's even a 110-volt AC power outlet
included. Pretty cool stuff.
When it comes to
driving, the Caliber really isn't anything special. It drives like an
economy car, with OK acceleration, a relatively harsh ride and a mildly
noisy cabin. It feels competent, but not much more.
The $13,455 basic SE
model comes with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine and a five-speed
manual transmission. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is a
$1,000 option, and it lacks air conditioning, power windows and power
mirrors. If you want all those, it will cost about $1,500 more.
If you want even more
standard features, opt for the SXT model ($15,425). For better
performance and more luxury, you can pick the R/T ($19,425), which has a
2.4-liter engine, the CVT and a long, long list of standard equipment.
Overall, it's hard to
argue with the Caliber's combination of style, practicality, innovation
and affordability. It's the kind of car I think we'll see packing
America's highways in a couple of years.
What was tested?
The 2007 Dodge Caliber R/T with a base price of $19,425. Options:
Leather interior group ($1,045), cruise control ($250), sunroof ($750).
Price as tested: $20,425.
Why buy it? It
offers real innovation and a unique style rarely found in cars this
cheap. It combines the best features of a minivan and economy car into
one stylish, efficient, family-friendly vehicle.
Why avoid it? It
has the same boring, unrefined driving feel as the car it replaces, the
Neon. The cabin can get noisy, the ride is fairly harsh and performance
is only adequate. By
Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
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Column Name: The new Dodge Caliber is
Topic: The 2007 Dodge Caliber
Word Count: 785
Photo Caption: The 2007 Dodge Caliber
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Series #: 2006 - 51
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