Pros: Affordable, fun to drive, just north of pragmatic, well-made.
Cons: Not many bells and whistles to entertain gadget-junkies.
Man, did I score BIG points this Mother's Day!
We have been a one car family for...well...forever. It was - and still is - my 1995 Chevy Cavalier.
With the advent of kindergarten for Syd and Sam's playdates, we decided another car was in order.
We settled on the 2007 Dodge Caliber Hatchback, a shiny black car/suv crossover that is surprisingly roomy as it is fun to drive.
It's no secret that Dodge is back with a vengeance in the domestic auto market, but I want to expound a bit on the Caliber.
The 2007 Dodge Caliber Hatchback comes in four different "base" models: SE, SXT, SXT Sport, and R/T.
The SE sports a 1.8L engine, 4 cylinder engine with a 16-valve DOHC (dual overhead cam), dual VVT (variable valve timing - the same engine piston technology as found on Toyota's acclaimed V6) engine. The base SE also has a 5-speed manual transmission, low-back bucket seats, AM/FM/CD, and 15x6 steel wheels for just south of $15,000.
The SXT is almost exactly the same car as the SE, the primary differences being 1) the wheel size is bumped from 15x6 to 17x6.5 and 2) the SXT also boasts a "Chill-Zone" beverage cooler in the GLOVE BOX! There is room for four or five bottles of water which I find funnier that it probably is. There is a plastic handle inside the glove compartment that one can slide into an open position, rerouting some of the air-conditioning into the area, chilling your non-alcoholic beverages of choice. Just north of $16,000.
The differences between the SXT and SXT Sport models are more or less cosmetic. There are color-keyed seat inserts and instrument panel bezels and the wheels offered are 17" aluminum. $16,680.
Finally, as every Dodge afficianado knows, the R/T model is the granddaddy of that particular model line and the Caliber is no different. The R/T model boasts a 2.4L engine, a resilient sport suspension, and 18x7 aluminum wheels. The R/T is a few notes above $18,000.
That said, my particular model was "brand new," but a fleet car with a special 2.0L engine with several thousand miles already on it. I bought mine for $13,999 with the balance of the factory 3yr/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and an extended service plan for an additional 4yrs/40,000 miles for an additional $2,500.
Like life, the beauty of the Caliber is in the details. I immensely enjoy the ambient lighting which is even extended to illuminated rings around the beverage holders between the front seats. My model (SXT) also has a jack to accommodate MP3 players and an armrest that opens up to reveal a dock for said player. The rear seats fold in a 60/40 split or altogether to extend the hauling space.
The interior smacks of the Dodge's union with Daimler-Benz (yes, as in Mercedes). The stick shift is mounted into the front panel and the entire console is remarkably austere and understated. I like that.
The engine's HP is 148 @ RPM 6500, with a better-than-average fuel economy, listed at 28mpg (city) and 32mpg (highway). Personal experience clocks these figures at 24 and 28, a consideration in times when crude oil exceeds gold in upward value in the international market.
The Caliber drives like a much more prestigious vehicle and is as good-looking as it is smooth on the road. It's not quite the Dodge Charger R/T turbo I've been lusting after, but it's just perfect for my wife, our two daughters, and the loads of baggage such a family carries.
(For you gearheads, more advanced specs are available at http://www-5.dodge.com/vehsuite/VehicleCompare.jsp)
In all, with passenger, driver, and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, and electric locks, windows, and anti-theft alarm, the 2007 Dodge Caliber is the type of car I feel confident gifting to my wife, knowing full well that she and my children will be riding inside.
What better endorsement is there?
Thank you for spending some time with your Mother!
For photo galleries, estimation of payments, and other interesting facts about the 2007 Dodge Caliber, visit http://www-5.dodge.com/en/caliber/index.html.