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Well Rounded Versatility - The 2009 Dodge Caliber

The Dodge Caliber is a stylish, small, fuel-efficient hatchback model that has sold well since it arrived for 2007.   The 2009 Caliber is a 4-door, 5-passenger wagon and is available in 4 trims, ranging from the SE to the SRT4.  The 2009 Caliber is a carryover from 2008. The Caliber's main competitors include the Saturn Astra, Toyota Matrix and Volkswagen Rabbit. The Caliber's high-performance SRT4 model is the true standout, offering excellent performance and handling abilities.  The 2009 Dodge caliber's starting MSRP is $16,460 - $24,840.  For 2009 Dodge Caliber has eliminated its all-wheel-drive option and added new sound insulation for a quieter ride. 

Caliber Power 

The Caliber packs either a 1.8, 2.0 or 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, with EPA-estimated fuel economy of 28/32 mpg city/highway, 26/30 mpg and 23/26 mpg, respectively.   The SE is equipped with a standard 1.8-liter, 148-horsepower engine that achieves 24-mpg in the city and 30-mpg on the highway. A 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard. The SRT4 is equipped with a standard 2.4-liter, 285-horsepower, turbo engine.  A 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard. The Caliber is available with a manual or continuously variable automatic transmission.

2009 Design

Unlike many of the class leaders, Dodge only offers the Caliber in a five-door hatchback trim.  The 2009 Dodge Caliber's macho stance gives off an aggressive feel. The Caliber is without a doubt a Dodge, thanks to the crosshair grille. The Caliber has very large wheels for a car of it's size and class. Overall length is 173.8 inches and width is 68.8 inches. 

The Caliber Drive 

The Caliber is considered underpowered in almost every trim, save the new SRT4 model.  Furthermore, the car's performance is surprisingly truck like for such a small vehicle.  Under hard acceleration, front-drive models show some torque steer, where the front-wheel drive tugs at the steering wheel. 

Cabin Features

The 2009 Dodge Caliber interior is undeniably a part of the budget class, but the seats are reasonably accommodating, and the hatch's cargo room is a big plus. The interior has decent-quality materials and two-tone color schemes, even in the base trim level. The SRT4 has a separate turbo boost gauge, sport seats with deeper bolstering, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a short-throw gearshift lever.  Interior volume comes in at 95.2 cubic feet. Cargo space behind the rear seats is 18.5 cubic feet, but with the standard 60/40-split folding seats down it expands to 48 cubic feet. 

The 2008 Dodge Caliber offers a choice of four models.  The SE ($13,925) comes standard with cloth seats; tilt steering column; an AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers and an auxiliary input jack; a 60/40-split, folding rear seat; removable and washable vinyl cargo mat; and P205/70R15 tires on hub capped, steel wheels.  The SE comes with manual roll-up windows and manual outside mirrors. Options for the SE are as extensive as the standard equipment is basic. 

The SXT ($16,620) comes with the features in the SE Popular Equipment Group, air conditioning with the interior air filter and Chill Zone; a tachometer; YES Essentials cloth upholstery that Dodge says is odor, stain and static resistant; Sirius satellite radio; 115-volt, AC power outlet; a flashlight-like removable lamp that stows and charges in a receptacle in the rear headliner; height-adjustable driver's seat; fold-flat front passenger seat; a reclining 60/40 split rear seat; and all-season P215/60R17 touring tires on aluminum wheels.

The R/T ($18,395) comes standard with the SXT features, plus the Sport Appearance Group, the Premium Sound Group with MusicGate Pow.  SXT options include seat heaters for the cloth seats ($250); sunroof ($795); the Driver Convenience Group ($760) with Dodge's UConnect hands-free cell phone link, HomeLink universal garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, vehicle information center and a tire pressure monitor; the Popular Equipment Group ($200) with fog lights, body side molding, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio controls; a navigation system with six-disc CD changer ($1395); and the Premium Sound Group ($495) Boston Acoustics sound system with nine speakers, including two articulating liftgate speakers called MusicGate Power. 


The Caliber comes with a unique-for-its-class driver's knee airbag designed to keep the driver positioned properly for the other primary restraints. An electronic stability system and traction control are optional on most models, but the stability system is standard on the SRT4.  The Dodge Caliber is a fun, well-rounded package, combining the versatility of a sport utility vehicle with the value and fuel-efficiency of a compact car. The major downsides to the 2009 Caliber are its marginal score in IIHS side-impact crash test, it low cabin quality, and poor rear visibility.  The benefits of the Caliber are its very quiet cabin, good overall handling, its unique and aggressive looks, and the SRT4's brake response and pedal feel.   

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