1 Aug 2006
DODGE returned to Australia after a 30-year absence with the Caliber, a front-wheel drive small car about the size of the Mazda3.
Based on the DaimlerChrysler/Mitsubishi GS platform that also underpins models as varied as the 2007 Jeep Compass and Mitsubishi Lancer, the Caliber is available with four four-cylinder engines.
The smallest is a 1.8-litre variable-valve four-cylinder unit, developing 110kW at 6500rpm and 168Nm at 5200rpm. A five-speed manual-only proposition for now, it is available in the ST, SX and SXT models.
Buyers opting for a Caliber automatic must choose the CVT transmission featured in the SX 2.0-litre CVT.
This 2.0-litre variable-valve unit VVT four ups the ante slightly with 115kW at 6300rpm and 190Nm at 5100rpm. Fuel economy is 7.4L/100km combined for the 1.8 and 8.1L/100km combined with the 2.0.
A Volkswagen sourced 103kW/310Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, mated to a six-speed manual, arrived in late 2006, along with the higher-performance 127kW/224Nm five-speed manual 2.4-litre RT model.
In 2007, a more powerful 224kW/353Nm turbocharged petrol-engined SRT4 version will become available.
The Caliber sits on a 2635mm wheelbase - a Ford Focus is 2640mm – with a 1520mm front and rear track, which means interior room is plentiful for four and there is a large luggage area with a washable rear vinyl floor.
At 4415mm long, 1800mm wide and 1535mm high the Caliber sits right in the small car class. By comparison a Ford Focus is just 63mm longer, 40mm wider but 92mm lower.