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First look: Fresh Caliber in Dodge’s sights

New diesel: Next year's Dodge Caliber gets a new, bigger common-rail diesel engine with more grunt and better fuel economy.

Facelifted Dodge Caliber emerges ahead of Frankfurt show and 2010 Australian release

3 Sep 2009

CHRYSLER has released details of a midlife makeover for its Dodge Caliber, featuring a redesigned interior and an all-new 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine.

The facelifted version of the small five-door hatchback, Chrysler Group LLC’s top-selling model outside North America in 2008, will make its global debut at the Frankfurt motor show on September 15, before going on sale in Australia next year.

“It is definitely on our radar,” said Chrysler Australia public relations manager Jerry Stamoulis. “It is a car that we will take, but not until the latter part of 2010.”

The freshened Caliber is headlined by a larger common-rail diesel (CRD) engine to replace the existing 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, which powers the most expensive variant of the current Caliber range in Australia.

While the local Caliber line-up opens at $23,990 for the 1.8-litre petrol SX five-speed manual and also includes the 2.0-litre petrol SX automatic ($26,990) and 2.0-litre petrol SXT automatic ($30,990), the SXT CRD six-speed manual tops the range at $32,490.

The Caliber’s new CRD engine meets Euro 5 emissions regulations and delivers 120kW, which is up 16 per cent on the outgoing (103kW) 2.0-litre, and 320Nm of torque – up just three per cent on the current diesel’s 310Nm torque peak.

41 center imageFuel consumption reduces by five per cent, from 6.1 to 5.8L/100km, with CO2 emissions falling by three per cent – from 159 to 154g/km.

Chrysler says the extra displacement also gives the Caliber CRD a 25 per cent increase in towing capacity, to 1500kg. Vibration and harshness levels are claimed to have been reduced by the same amount, thanks to dual balance shafts and extra sound deadening materials for the CRD.

Again mated only to a six-speed manual gearbox, the 2.2 CRD features forged steel connecting rods, aluminium cylinder-head and pistons and a fourth-generation common-rail direct-injection system that is pressurised at up to 1800 bar, which are said to improve durability and performance while reducing weight. A diesel particulate filter is also fitted.

The Caliber’s entry-level 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine will also be replaced by a 2.0-litre ‘World Engine’ that offers four per cent more power (115kW) and 13 per cent more torque (190Nm).

As with the larger 125kW/220Nm 2.4-litre petrol engine that is not available in Australia’s Caliber, the 2.0-litre engine comes with dual variable valve timing (VVT) and an intake manifold design with flow control valves.

Inside, the 2010 Caliber benefits from a similar cabin redesign as the upgraded Jeep Patriot, which first emerged at the Paris motor show last October and launches here in mid-October.

Described as cleaner and more refined, the new Caliber interior adds chrom highlights, soft-touch premium materials and additional storage spaces, while the ‘Sport Appearance package’ available in some markets adds new 18-inch polished aluminium wheels.

New design elements include an “organically-shaped” instrument panel with a “more integrated look”, a redesigned centre console and door-trim panels, chromed accents for the HVAC vents, gearshift bezel, instrument panel, door ‘spears’ and cluster rings, plus soft-touch padding for the door armrest and centre console.

Rounding out the revised Caliber’s fresh interior are larger climate controls, a centre console bin below a new split lid and additional storage space.

Unique Caliber features will continue to include the ‘Chill Zone’ cooled storage bin, voice-controlled ‘Uconnect’ navigation system, rechargeable LED flashlight and the optional ‘MusicGate Power Sound Group’, which includes two articulating tailgate speakers for a total of nine.

The original Caliber launched the Dodge brand in Australia three years ago in September 2006. Locally, Caliber sales are down almost 60 per cent after the first seven months of 2009, with just 179 examples sold.

“The Dodge Caliber is not your typical C-segment car,” said Chrysler Group LLC’s Dodge brand president and CEO, Mike Accavitti. “When we launched the Dodge Caliber only a few years ago, its bold style made a clear statement on the European roads, allowing owners to be active, stand out and do more.

“Now paired with an all-new turbo-diesel engine that offers better fuel consumption and performance and an improved interior full of value and customer-friendly features, the Dodge Caliber continues to offer our European clients unique Dodge attitude combined with one of the best value proposition in the segment.”

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