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New Dodge Caliber
Compact but... with crossover family ties

Dodge Caliber - front side view

Caliber: Dodge bold look in a compact car size.

18th January 2006.

Bold styling, an air of crossover, flexible and globally targeted. That's what the new Dodge Caliber is meant to be.

It's ambitions are first American, for the compact car category (known as C segment in Europe) is promising a continued growth in the USA. Since oil reserves are getting closer and closer to the peak point where about half the estimated ultimately recoverable reserves of oil in the world would have been already produced, oil prices are expected to keep rising from now on, especially with the continually growing hunger for energy, not just from the western world, but from industrial China and India too.

More. If oil prices are starting to modify the car sales segmentation in the USA, with a growing demand for small cars (Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, Hyundai Accent and others) and crossovers, at the expense of larger cars and bulky SUVs, petrol prices already play an important role in the car segments repartition in Europe, through higher taxation at the pump, since the first energy crisis in the seventies. Add of course the narrower streets in "good old Europe", and you get the main reasons why compact and small cars are so popular in Europe.

Dodge Caliber - back side view

Caliber: an air of crossover.

This leads us back to the global ambitions of the 2007 Dodge Caliber, which should reach Europe and close to 100 countries from the second quarter of this year. It will be available outside North America with both right- and left-hand drive models and an available turbo diesel engine - an essential requirement for success in Europe.

Of course, if DaimlerChrysler is betting on Europe to expand its Dodge brand presence outside the US market, the same competition which is eating GM, Ford and Chrysler share in the US car market... is already doing the same in Europe, although at a slower pace. Same story, with the "usuals", Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai and its affiliate Kia.

Being oriented to a young audience, the Caliber is certainly betting too on its personality as an attractive product, one of the key elements in this segment.

Dodge Caliber - dashboard

All Caliber models feature a 2-tone interior with dark and lighter shades.

Indeed, the five-door Caliber hatchback comes with some sporty coupe-like profile and some stance and functionality of an SUV. Its crossover look is not just due to design fancies, but more practically because it shares the same front-wheel drive platform with the... Jeep Compass (Compass prices) and Patriot.

To face other high "calibres" such as the VW Golf, Renault Megane, Peugeot 307, Fiat Stilo, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic... etc, in Europe, Caliber will especially need its diesel powertrains,not just the left- and right-hand drive versions.

But before it reaches Europe, the 2007 Dodge Caliber will be launched in the U.S. in the current quarter at a starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $13,985 - including a $560 destination charge. That's $410 below the outgoing Dodge Neon.

Dodge Caliber - console

CVT2 with AutoStick: manual control with simulation of 6 stepped gears.

Hence, the new Dodge Caliber will try to play the entry-level game with value, bold styling and a flexible interior. A package with the versatility of a sport-utility crossover and the affordability and fuel-efficiency of an entry-level compact car.

According to DaimlerChrysler count, the compact car segment has held at a steady 10- to 12-percent share of the U.S. car market for the past few years, with approximately 1.9 million units sold annually. The sport-tourer segment is growing, with more than 800,000 units sold each year. Small sport-tourer sales account for 40 percent of the total sport-tourer segment and also continue to grow.

With the Caliber, Dodge is targeting "20-something first-time new car buyers"... but (the Caliber) "is also designed to appeal to forty-something parents buying a car for their children". In Europe, the Caliber / Renault Megane / VW Golf size is a good start for a young and small family, as well as single-parent families or just singles.

Caliber’s interior seats its driver and up to four passengers, with their luggage in a good boot space of 18.5 cu. ft. (0.523 cubic meter. More precision will be available later about the exact extend of this measurement, if its is up to the rear shelf or to the roof), and that's before folding any part of the rear seat (60/40).

With the rear seat completely folded, luggage space grows to 48 cu. ft (or 1.36 metre3), according to Dodge figures. On top of that, the 60/40 rear seats both fold flat and recline 12 degrees on SXT and R/T models.

Dodge Caliber - Chill Zone beverage coller

Chill Zone: an integrated instrument panel beverage cooler.

On the technical side, the 2007 Dodge Caliber features new engines and transmissions developed for the already mentioned new front- and all-wheel-drive platform (Caliber, Compass, Patriot) destined for the global compact car segment.

For example, the Caliber is the first Chrysler Group vehicle to offer:

- the full range of the Group's World Engine family,
- a second-generation Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT2),
- a compact car to with all-wheel-drive option and electronic ESP with traction control (late availability).

Three 4-cylinder engines will be available: 1.8-, 2.0- and 2.4-liter (148 hp, 158 hp and 172 hp, respectively). 

Technologies in the Chrysler Group World Engine family include dual Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and intake manifold design with flow control valves, firsts for a Chrysler Group compact car. Such features produce more power, better fuel economy and smoother, quieter operation than engines without them.  

Dodge Caliber’s CVT2 is a second-generation CVT that Chrysler Group engineers have calibrated for pleasing engine response, precise ratio control and an AutoStick® feature that allows for manual control with the simulation of six stepped gears.

According to Chrysler figures, CVT2 contributes to a fuel economy improvement of 6-8 percent compared with a traditional 4-speed automatic.

Dodge Caliber is also the Chrysler Group’s first compact car with available electromagnetically controlled all-wheel drive with variable torque output and automatic operation.

Dodge Caliber - iPod dock

Armrest lid with a flip to store a cell phone or a dock for an MP3 player.

Dodge Caliber’s manual and automatic transmission shifters are packaged in the centre stack instead of the floor console, which is more common in Japanese and European markets.

Line-up - In the U.S., Dodge Caliber enters the market at $410 below the outgoing Dodge Neon starting price. It is available in Caliber SE, Caliber SXT and Caliber R/T models. 

Caliber SE - At $13,985 (including $560 destination charge), the Dodge Caliber SE comes with the 148 horsepower 1.8-liter World Engine and a five-speed manual gearbox. Standard equipment includes side-curtain air bags, a vinyl load floor, auxiliary radio input jack, electrically lit front cup holders, 12-volt power outlet, a centre console sliding armrest that moves forward 3 inches to accommodate shorter drivers.  The armrest lid features a flip pocket for storing a cell phone or an MP3 player.

Additional standard features include a flexible 60/40 split-fold rear seats, tilt steering wheel, dome and cargo lights. In the standard equipment level, windows and locks are manual and the 15-inch wheels are steel made.

Optional Caliber SE features include the 158-horsepower 2.0-liter World Engine with the second-generation CVT2 (it comes with standard anti-lock brakes), six-disc radio with cassette and MP3 CD play capability, Power Group (includes driver one-touch power window, power locks, remote keyless entry and power mirrors), body color liftgate appliqué, air conditioning, Chill Zone® (an integrated instrument panel beverage cooler included with air conditioning), speed control, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and Uconnect™ hands-free communication system.

Dodge Caliber - boot view

Good and flexible luggage volume for a compact car.

Other options include the trailer tow group, floor mats and MusicGate Power, a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics premium sound system with subwoofer that includes two articulating speakers packaged in the liftgate. When the liftgate is open, the speakers can swing down from the trim panel to face rearward for tailgating and other activities.

Caliber SXT - The SXT version features the same 148 horsepower 1.8-liter World Engine with a five-speed manual gearbox. Its standard features add 60/40 rear seats that both fold flat and recline, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a dual-purpose re-chargeable/removable interior lamp, map light, air conditioning, Chill Zone®, power windows, mirrors and door locks, remote keyless entry, 110-volt electrical outlet in the centre console, manual seat height adjuster, floor mats, bright silver IP bezels and switches.

The Caliber SXT’s exterior features standard black dual power mirrors, body-color body-side molding, chrome grille and 17-inch steel wheels.

Optional features on the Caliber SXT include the 2.0-liter World Engine with the CVT2, and, beyond options offered on the SE, leather steering wheel with radio control options, heated seats, power sunroof, fog lamps, 17-inch aluminium wheels, a Security Group (includes tonneau cover, alarm and air filtration system) and a Driver Convenience Group (compass and temperature gauge, universal garage door opener, electrochromic mirror and tire pressure monitor) and a Leather Interior Group (leather seats, heated front seats and manual lumbar adjuster).

Dodge Caliber - MusicGate Power: when the liftgate is open, the speakers swing down

MusicGate Power: when the liftgate is open, the speakers swing down.

A Sport Package also is available on the SXT model and includes fog lamps, 17-inch aluminium wheels and a Sport Appearance Package (includes cloth seats with colored inserts, color-keyed PRNDL and instrument panel bezels).

Caliber R/T - The Caliber R/T with all-wheel drive features a standard 172-horsepower 2.4-liter World Engine with dual VVT coupled with CVT2, anti-lock brakes, AutoStick, a sport-suspension, performance steering and 18-inch aluminium wheels.

In addition to the standard features on the SE and SXT models, standard features on the Dodge Caliber R/T include leather steering wheel with radio controls, tonneau cover, premium fabric seats, silver bezels on the instrument panel and chrome interior door handles.

The Caliber R/T’s exterior features a chrome grille, body-color lower fascias, body-color sill moldings, chrome plated body-side moldings, body-color door handles and fog lamps.

Dodge Caliber - side view

Caliber with optional chrome wheels.

The Dodge Caliber R/T models equipped with all-wheel drive can be specified with optional 18-inch chrome wheels.

All 2007 Dodge Caliber models will feature a two-tone interior color theme of dark and lighter shades of Pastel Slate Gray or Pastel Pebble Beige. An optional Sport Appearance Package includes Pastel Slate Gray with red, yellow, orange or blue seat inserts that coordinate with the exterior color, centre stack and shifter bezels.

Full model details, specifications and pricing for markets outside North America will be released ahead of the vehicle’s launch in each respective market.

Production - The Dodge Caliber is produced at the newly refurbished Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant. The new four-cylinder World Engines vehicle are built in the state-of-the art Global Engine Manufacturing Assembly (GEMA) plant in Dundee, Michigan. GEMA is owned equally by DaimlerChrysler Corp., Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Hyundai Motor Company.

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