The Caliber is deceiving.
I leased a 2008 Dodge Caliber for a female business partner as part of her compensation. She had asked for a BMW, but my spidey senses said that would be a waste of my cash. I liked the look of the Caliber and thought the price point was good. I had a hunch that I had better sit in this thing in case the deal didn't work out as planned.
Well, as some things go, the deal went bad due to her dishonesty, but I digress. The good news is I had the opportunity to drive the Caliber for a week before deciding if I should sell my 2005 Nissan Maxima or not.
Glad I decided to keep the Caliber. Getting in is a little tight for the low roof line, the seat has to be reclined beyond the door pillar in the rear to get all the way in. But once in, the headroom is enough for me to sit with my ball cap on. Recall, I am 6'4" and 255ish.
The steering wheel tilts and when positioned near the top of it's range, gives me ample knee room under the wheel. The foot well is a tad narrow, but not so that I have to move my seating position to compensate. There is enough room to work the pedals even wearing winter shoe/boots without mashing the combo to create a brake burn (not likely with the four-banger under the hood).
Visibility is OK, a little more windshield space would be nice around eye level when you are directly under a street signal. I have to crane my head over to look up to see the signal color from time to time. Rear views, side views and blind spots are all very clear in this car.
The seats are very comfortable but could use a couple of more inches in width to be "great". I like the option of having a lumbar support, but it is not available in this car. You could add a foam roll if you have back problems.
Coming out of my previous Maxima, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder seemed anemic at first, but coupled with the CVT transmission made the car reasonable in MOST driving conditions. I drive with the flow, rarely pass Semis--but if the need to pass is required, it is predictably OK for most normal, safe drivers. My model has the 6-speed "Auto Stick" option, which allows controlling shifts manually--allowing the revs to spool up like a 125 motocross bike if you need to rally a bit.
The car is nimble to drive, had no shakes or rattles (currently at 32 months) tire wear is good, brakes are good, mileage is great. I like it for the driving I am doing--local meetings, grocery getting, gym runs etc. I venture to downtown Toronto once in a while and find it perfect for easy parking, side streets, sharing bike lanes etc.
I like the audio system from the factory--a Sirius Satellite option is installed and I like my "Hair Nation" on the way to the gym--the six speaker system is quite nice, better sounding than my factory Bose set up on the '05 Maxima for sure.
So if you are over 6' and are considering a smaller ride, take a look at this Caliber. As my lease is coming up to the end I am actually considering another one based on the time I have had this one.