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The Chrysler Group is letting out some more details about the 2007 Dodge Caliber its plans to have ready for showrooms by the middle of 2006.
Eric Ridenour, the Chrysler Group’s executive vice president of product development and chief operating officer-designate, said the new Caliber will feature a continuously-variable transmission and all-wheel drive, as well as the new four-cylinder global engine that was designed jointly by Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai. Tests aren’t anywhere near complete yet but the combination of the CVT and new engine should raise fuel economy by 8-10 percent over the fuel economy of the Neon, the Chrysler group’s current offering in the small-car segment.
The Caliber will come only in a two-box bodystyle that borrows design elements from sport-utility vehicles, the larger Dodge Magnum, and the hatchbacks of the 1970s and 1980s. Chrysler has no plans for a three-box sedan model, Ridenour said during a briefing on the powertrain for the next-generation small cars.
“The idea is for something a little more aggressive in the marketplace with those proportions,” he said. “It’s very, very impressive the way it has stood out at auto shows. That’s what we’re trying to do with our cars. We make sure they catch your eye,” he said.
ECT, AWD, and CVT
The all-wheel-drive unit slated for the Caliber will be the first with an electronic control split for front and rear torque. Under normal condition, the split is biased towards the front wheels for better on road handling and shifts to the rear wheels as needed, Ridenour said. “It’s an all-electronic system, so that way you get good fuel economy,” he added.