Overview & Reviews
A replacement for the original Dodge Neon, the Dodge Caliber certainly had promise when it was introduced, boasting an innovative, space-efficient hatchback body and unique features like flip-down tailgate speakers and a dedicated iPod holder. Unfortunately, those good ideas were spoiled by sloppy execution.
Compared to rival economy cars, the Dodge Caliber was down on quality, refinement and appeal. Even with an interior update halfway through its life, the Caliber was simply not competitive with other compact sedans and hatchbacks. If you're shopping for a used hatchback or wagon, models such as the Mazda 3, Scion xB or Volkswagen Golf would be much better choices overall.
Most Recent Dodge Caliber
Built on a global platform also used for the Jeep Compass SUV and midsize Dodge Avenger sedan, the tall-bodied Dodge Caliber was produced from 2007-'12. It came only as a compact hatchback/wagon.
The rear seats folded in a 60/40 split, increasing cargo space to a maximum of 48 cubic feet. The front passenger seat also folded forward to make room for longer items. The Caliber had decent headroom and legroom in the front and back, but it was still a small car built to a price, so it came without luxurious accommodations.
Initially, there were three regular trim levels available: base SE, SXT and R/T. In 2010 and '11, there were a wider variety of interestingly named trims available (Express, Mainstreet, Uptown, Heat and Rush), but the available feature content was mostly the same. For 2012, the SE and SXT trim levels returned along with SXT Plus.
The base SE wasn't as bare-bones as you'd think, boasting air-conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, a USB audio jack and satellite radio. The SXT added bigger wheels, a power driver seat and a reclining rear seat, while the SXT Plus was a sport-tuned model with suspension, brakes and wheel upgrades. It should be noted that stability control was not offered on the SE (standard on other trims), and the antilock brakes feature rear drums on the SE and SXT. Discs were optional on the SXT and standard on the SXT Plus.
At the bottom of the Caliber's engine lineup was a 148-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder, which came standard on the base Caliber and the SXT. It was only available with a five-speed manual transmission, and was discontinued for 2010.
Those seeking more power and an automatic transmission should look for a Caliber with the 158-hp 2.0-liter four, which was equipped exclusively with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). There was also the R/T model (and later Rush) that was equipped with a 174-hp 2.4-liter inline-4, though Dodge discontinued it for 2012. All-wheel drive was available on the R/T model until 2009.
There was also a high-performance Caliber SRT4 produced for 2008 and '09. It boasted a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 285 hp and 265 pound-feet of torque, with a six-speed manual as the only available transmission. Aside from its big engine, it got 19-inch wheels, lowered suspension, upgraded brakes, a performance trip computer and sport seats. This may sound impressive, but it really wasn't. We found it underwhelming and overpriced compared to other affordable, high-horsepower hatchbacks, as well as burdened by excessive weight and an abundance of torque steer.
In road tests, our editors found the Dodge Caliber to be an adequate daily driver, though not much more than that. Its ride and handling just weren't as refined as its many competitors. None of the Caliber's available engines were ideal; all sounded coarse under load. We'd avoid the 1.8 given its mediocre power; the 2.0 will get you the same fuel economy. The best choice for power is the 2.4, though with either engine the optional CVT just exacerbated that coarse nature.
While any Caliber will offer respectable hatchback versatility, shoppers should note that models produced prior to 2010 had deplorable interior quality. These earlier models had hard interior surfaces, unappealingly textured plastic and questionable build quality. Compared to the accommodations in vehicles like the Mazda 3, the Caliber's furnishings were several steps behind. A notable Caliber change was for '09 when it received its available hard-drive-based music and navigation systems.
The Caliber's interior was greatly improved for 2011. The design was more appealing and materials were better, including soft-touch materials in areas frequently encountered by elbows. Still, the cabin quality was far from class-leading.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 634.00
it ended to soon. - 2010 Dodge Caliber
By Anthony - January 4 - 9:26 am
There is a problem that causes these to shut off while you are driving on the hwy., my niece had the same problem, something about a cooling sensor keeping the transmission from overheating. And this should have been a recall issue.
DODGE A DODGE QUICK - 2007 Dodge Caliber
By Shortbody - January 3 - 8:16 pm
Do not buy used trust and believe all negative comments (its real). Had it 45 days and the Throttle body light came on. No acceleration, car shaking and won't hardly move. Car had poor accelaration before the light came on drove as if it were a manual shifting car. DO NOT SPEND YOUR MONEY! paid cash for the car, wish I had not!!!
This car is my baby. - 2007 Dodge Caliber
By August Greth - October 19 - 12:58 pm
My parents bought this car brand new in 2007 and I began driving it in 2011. It has been a fantastic family car and commuter car for all of us. Together we've put 142k miles on it with a good mix of highway and city miles averaging about 27 mpg. It has been extremely reliable and hasn't needed a single major repair. The only minor repairs included replacing the gas cap sensor which went out at 140k, wheel realignment at 120k(tire wear had been normal until then), and minor break repairs around 130k miles. A few cons... as a 6' tall adult my head brushes against the ceiling of the car. I also have to tuck my head above the steering wheel to see stoplights. Like any small car it also had a tendency to hydroplane when there is a significant amount of water on the roadway. Also, as I had the FWD model it didn't handle too well on unplowed roads or on steep icy roads. However, it still has managed to get me home during a few snow storms. All of these issues are what you would expect from a small FWD cars. Also to address some of the other reviews on here... The CVT transmission has never had an issue. It changes speed without delay and rarely makes any clunking noises. When it does it has been a case where I had to slam on the breaks and immediately slam on the gas. As for acceleration it holds up well if I'm the only person in the car. However... with 1-2 passengers acceleration decreases noticeably. Its not great but has never inhibited my driving capabilities. Also tire wear has been completely normal. The struts, ball bearings, etc have been inspected and still hold up fine. It has been a great investment for my family and I can easily see myself buying with Dodge in the future. For now I plan to continue driving it until the wheels fall off.
Dodge Caliber 2009 - 2009 Dodge Caliber
By Neil webb - September 26 - 8:55 am
Great car no problems at all
Problems - 2007 Dodge Caliber
By Yadi - September 20 - 2:08 pm
I had to replace tie rod and ball joints. Again, I'm replacing the ball joints. I put in new alternator and a battery. Right now it has 102k miles. But it used with 70k miles. I don't recommend a dodge caliber to anyone. Money pit car
4door awd. rtf okay car - 2007 Dodge Caliber
By logan - August 5 - 4:52 pm
I have a 2007 dodge caliber rt for 4years now and needless to say its been a dependable vehicle love the style and how it rides.. but im at 99400 miles and beginning to run into issues. I have replaced the throttle body ball joint front and back struts and springs/coils exhaust cap. Other then other maintenance that's everything I've dealt with. I will say though I do not like driving it in winter at all. Just doesnt seem to do as well as Id hope.
Most Ridiculous Car Ever Made - 2008 Dodge Caliber
By Neal Buck - August 3 - 2:10 pm
I can't believe this car was ever made. It's utterly ridiculous. First and foremost, the acceleration is practically non existent. The harder you push down the acceleration pedal, the slower the car accelerates. I think the issue is more with the automatic transmission than the actual torque, though, because it often feels like the car is starting from second gear and then realizes it's not supposed to do that and jerkily downshifts to first. The suspension is a sort of princess and the pea situation with every little bump in the road translating into a spleen-rattling affair. From the outside, the Caliber looks like a spacious family car, but the inside is fully taken up with the dashboard, which is roughly the size of an eight-seat dining room table. The front seats have a fair amount of leg room underneath the dashboard, but any backseat passengers don't fare as well. And good luck fitting more than one kid's car seat back there. You would think they could have taken a couple of feet out of the dash to provide more room for the back seats. I can only assume the engineer responsible for the Caliber's design envisioned serving a large meal on the dashboard. There can be no other reason for that design. I have only two good things to say about this car. First, we have had to do no major repairs on it since we got it. But I think that's about to change. I believe the suspension and transmission will be requiring repairs before long. Second, the storage space is pretty decent, especially when you lay down the back seats. Overall, I wouldn't wish this car on anyone. Its two small perks do not compensate for a host of design failures and automotive mishaps. This car is actually really funny when you give it much thought. It's like the engineers planned it as a practical joke.
Had me hooked at first drive! - 2008 Dodge Caliber
By Rebecca - July 21 - 10:09 am
Yes, it has lackluster acceleration, but overall, I LOVE my car!! Perfect size for driving daily to and from work alone, but also, easily fits 4-5 people without too much complaint. Great hauling capability with the fold down seats (although the angle of the back hatch has gotten in my way a time or two). Gas mileage is spectacular, even as it gets older, still holds well! Have had minimal maintenance (other than normal oil changes, new tires, etc.), two months ago was the first time I had to have something fixed, power steering pump lines had a hole and entire pump wasn't working correctly, but $400 later (the most I have spent on any repair or maintenance), brand new pump, and it is driving as good as new!! Acceleration could be better, and it is not a fan of going up in to the Rockies here in Colorado, but overall, I would say this is a great car, has been great for me, and I love it!!
Love my car! - 2008 Dodge Caliber
By Nicole - July 9 - 8:14 am
This car was definitely not my first choice, but at the time I was still in college and dad pretty much decided for me. But I'm so glad we went with the Caliber! Yes, it lacks many of the bells and whistles of a more expensive car/brand. It doesn't have heated seats, or a fancy interior. But my major repairs have been few and far between (and by major i mean nothing totalling over $300). This car is 7 years old and is still going like a champ! It's been so good to me and in turn i've been good to it. I'm constantly surprised by how well it's held up over all this time considering it doesn't have the best reputation. The Pros, in my opinion: Cruise control is an awesome plus. It also hasn't required many major repairs. I don't consider it a very noisy car, and the sound system is pretty good too. My favorite thing about this car is the storage. All the back seats fold forward and i've been amazed at what i've been able to fit in this car! It's only proven to me that I want to continue buying hatchbacks if i can. The couple "complaints" i have are: Lackluster acceleration, feels light enough to fly off the road if i'm going too fast (road holding?), doesn't do all that well in snow (totally fine in rain, though) and like i said, no bells and whistles. The one major repair I had other than the breaks is that the cord(?) connecting my shifter to the transmission broke, so my car wouldn't recognize what gear i was in. That was a $300 repair, and that was this year (so after 7 years). Overall I'm extremely happy with this purchase, especially for the money we paid. I might sell it this year but that's only because i'd like to get at least a little money for it! But if money weren't an issue, i'd continue to drive it until it died.
Wish I Had Never Bought It - 2008 Dodge Caliber
By brandeeboo_92 - January 23 - 10:14 am
I just bought an '08 Dodge Caliber in August of 2014. I have put almost two grand into it since then...freaking thing breaks down it seems like every six months. I've had to replace the clutch, three starters, buy a new battery, and have had countless issues with the axle and tires. It's not worth the money to buy this car because it's so unreliable. It's comfortable and drives good but mechanically it sucks.