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First impressions: 2007 Dodge Caliber

First impressions: 2007 Dodge Caliber
Feb 8, 2006
First impressions: 2007 Dodge Caliber
by Amyot Bachand , Auto123.com
The big small car

Scottsdale, Arizona. DaimlerChrysler understood the importance of compact cars while taking the time and effort in developing an all-new model, the Dodge Caliber. This car is not exclusively targeted for North America, since DaimlerChrysler conceived it as a global-market vehicle.

Massive and enticing

(Photo: Amyot Bachand, Auto123.com)
Like its other products, Dodge chose to create a massive-looking compact, with a high stance, in order to distinguish itself from the competition in this category. Mike Nicholas, head designer of this project, told us that Dodge wanted a compact that sets itself apart from the sea of look-alike vehicles in this segment. They have succeeded. The prominent grille, flared fenders and the extended roofline complimented by a profiled black strip give the Caliber big-car status. This will please buyers who wish to distinguish themselves, and those who are hesitating to purchase a compact car.

One body style

Dodge has opted to offer only one body style, a 5-door hatchback, to confront the world market. Although Americans are traditionally not very attracted to hatchback cars, the stylists and market planners believe that they are ready to integrate this type of vehicle within their purchasing habits. As well, European and Canadian markets are used to this type of car. One body style also means important savings in production costs.

Universal powertrains

(Photo: Amyot Bachand, Auto123.com)
The four-cylinder engine was jointly developed by DaimlerChrysler, Hyundai and Mitsubishi. In the Caliber, this engine is available in three versions: 1.8L, 2.0L and 2.4L. If the engine block is identical for all three, each gets different pistons, connecting rods and crankshafts. The European market will benefit from a turbocharged 2.0L diesel. Let us hope that with the upcoming changes for 2007 regarding North-American diesel fuel, we will also get that engine. A very effective 5-speed manual is mated to the gas-powered 1.8L. Dodge establishes the fuel economy of this duo at 8.5L/100 km in the city and 6.8L on the highway. The other Canadian
(Photo: Amyot Bachand, Auto123.com)
versions (SXT and R/T) benefit from a new-generation CVT transmission. This type of transmission sheds traditional gears in favour of a direct drive at all engine speeds. This allows a 4 to 6 percent improvement in fuel consumption compared to regular automatic transmissions. The R/T version offers, as standard equipment, a viscous coupling all-wheel drive system along with the 2.4L and CVT. Braking is assured with the combination of a disc/drum setup in the SE and SXT. The R/T gets four-wheel discs. ABS is standard with the CVT, but it is also offered as an option on the manual-transmission SE.
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