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2010 Dodge Caliber: Better Interior, Fewer Engines, More MPG

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2010 Dodge Caliber R/T

2010 Dodge Caliber R/T

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For 2010, Chrysler has slimmed down the choices on its Dodge Caliber hatchback and spiffed up the interior, to make the car more competitive with the best of its class. It now offers just two engines and two transmissions, slightly improving the gas mileage.

We've never rated the Caliber particularly high among compact cars, due to its below-par fuel efficiency and a grim, dismal, hard-plastic interior. The revised 2010 Dodge Caliber addresses both those complaints.

The base engine is now the 2.0-liter four, replacing a previous 1.8-liter option, with either a five-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). EPA mileage ratings are 23 mpg city / 31 mpg highway for the manual (2 mpg better on the highway than last year's base model), and 23 mpg city / 27 mpg highway for the CVT (the same as last year).

The only other engine, a 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter four, gets 23 mpg city / 29 mpg highway with the five-speed and a not-very-competitive 21 mpg city / 25 mpg highway with the CVT.

Compact competitors do better. On the high end, with a powerful 2.5-liter five and a 6-speed automatic, the 2010 Volkswagen Golf racks up 23 mpg city / 30 mpg highway. More in line with the Caliber's price class, the 2010 Hyundai Elantra ekes out an impressive 26 mpg city / 34 mpg highway from its 2.0-liter four and conventional four-speed automatic transmission.

Gone from the range altogether is the hot-rod SRT4 model. That 285-hp "hot hatch" added a turbocharger and a six-speed manual, both of which are now completely gone from the 2010 Dodge Caliber lineup. So is the all-wheel-drive option.

The sole pretext at sportiness is the high-end R/T trim package, which adds little more than 18-inch chrome wheels to the standard 2.4-liter engine and five-speed manual transmission, in front-wheel-drive form only.

In previous model years, we said that 2.4-liter was a "noisy engine that nonetheless delivers marginal performance." We also slammed the "hard, nasty, ugly plastics inside."

We can't speak to the performance until we do a full road test, but the instrument panel, console, central storage bin and armrest, and other elements have been entirely redesigned. The re-do includes soft-touch materials, "bright accents" throughout the interior, and cup-holders illuminated by LED lighting.

We look forward to driving the revised 2010 Dodge Caliber, so we can see whether it's gotten closer to the best in its class. It needs to hold on for at least another year or two, until Chrysler's new owner Fiat can launch entirely new models for 2012 and thereafter.

[Chrysler, Detroit News, Car and Driver]

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Comments (9)
  1. The article is incorrect. The SRT4 model was FWD. AWD was optional on lesser models but not available on the SRT4.

  2. I've often maintained that if the Caliber were a part of a LINE of compacts by Dodge then it would have had broader apeal and been better recieved. The Caliber is a result of Daimlers narrow thinking that Dodge should only offer SUVs and trucks. The Germans did not appreciate or fully understand the Dodge brand or demographics. To this day foreign manufacturers have trouble grasping the America Performance market. Dodge is first and foremost a PERFORMANCE brand. It's Charger inspired trucks like the "Rumble Bee" that make the Ram stand above Chevy and Ford. It's the legacy of Ramchargers, Super Bees,Challengers and HEMI Darts that inspirers the Dodge buyer, even if they drive a minivan. The techno-bean counters at Daimler never went cruising on a Saturday night in a Charger R/T. The cheap interiors, poorly designed Nissan "slush box" and the general bias of the auto press against Chrysler led to the Calibers' disapointing sales and damaged reputation. Lets hope this re-fresh helps until the Fiat influence kicks in with a company that seems to get Dodge. See it's easy, it's a uniquely American Alfa Romero, almost, but not exactly,kinda,sort of......

  3. @OliverD: Thanks for the comment. Article has been fixed to correct. Appreciate your eagle eyes!

  4. Short term memory does not place the blame where it belongs. Daimler's people told the Chrysler people to let Mitsubishi do the engineering work on both the compact & midsize platforms, since "Americans can't do small cars."
    The result: The Avenger, Sebring, Compass, Patriot, Calibur, Galant, Outlander, and Endevor are all horible or uterly average vehicles.
    Yet rarely to you ever hear much criticism of Mitsubishi's work, it always seems to come down to "Americans can't build good cars".

  5. I don't know how the EPA drives these cars when they test the mileage...
    I have owned a 2008 SXT with the 2.0 and CVT and I've always gotten 28 to 29 MPG combined. About 1/3 city, 2/3 highway. This is substantially higher than the 27 MPG highway this car is supposed to get.
    The CVT does allow the engine to rev freely when driven hard to keep the engine in the peak power/RPM range, and perhaps this is how they got such bad numbers for this car.
    I do go easy on the gas, and perhaps this is how I have done so much better.
    I love the Caliber. Very roomy and the CVT is smooth as silk... RPMs sit right at 2K, from off the line, all the way to 60 MPH. No jerky shifting/winding through the gears with the CVT. Like a magic carpet ride.
    Give one a test drive before you write this car off. You may be surprised.

  6. I agree with Bill. The Caliber gets such bad press but I happen to love the one I have, I test drove a Saturn Vue, Nissan Versa, Cube, Murano, and Ford Escape, The Caliber was very smooth, and very fun to drive, it's roomy, feels solid and has a ton of ammenities like bluetooth, heated seats, etc. Ultimately I bought the Caliber. You see mixed feelings on all these sites but I would agree with the previous post. Drive it before you write it off...

  7. I don't know about the 2010, but my 2008 SXT is the love of my life. Had to special order it to get a manual and 1.8 L for mileage, consistent 36 mpg on the highway. I also got heated seats (Wyoming, where the FWD conquers 8 months of winter), sunroof, Sirius, mp3 jack (Caliber has a GREAT stock sound system), 120v outlet (LOVE), seat configuration kicks ass (I can stuff my entire kayak in). It's 2.5 years old now, 40k miles. One complaint: noisy cabin. I got the beige interior and love the plastic, feels comfortably industrial, easy to clean. My fun, paid-off car looks and runs brand new. Beats paying $5k more for the equivalent Compass, which looks like hell, or the Matrix, Vibe, Outback, etc., all of which I drove and priced first.

  8. Just bought a 2010 2.0 Dodge Caliber, me and my wife love this car. Only cost me 45 dollars to fill it up and it last about a week and a half. I have a 50 mile round trip commute to work. It's awesome.

  9. i have boght my lovely caliber one week ago,, i have looked many internet sites before ALL SAYS ITS UGLY, but when ii bought it everybpdy says to what alovely car you have,, so dont believe the net sites and cars reviewers,, its agreat agreat car its american car not

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