2007 Dodge Caliber Page 1

By Ken Zino

 

 

 

2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/7/2006)

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1999 Ford Escort ZX2

1999 Ford Escort ZX2

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The Dodge Caliber is coming to replace the Neon — and it has bigger dreams of global domination than the former entry-level Dodge sedan and coupe ever had.

 

The Caliber is the beginning of an ambitious program at Chrysler to make money in the ultra-competitive U.S. compact segment by offering more than just a refreshed econo-hatch. Not only will the Caliber appear in American showrooms, it’s headed to Europe as well. And its basic architecture will spawn at least two brethren that will broaden the Chrysler Group small-car portfolio — while spreading the cost of a brand-new vehicle family over both the Dodge and Jeep brands.

 

The Caliber brings some potent hardware to the battle with Civics, Focuses and Corollas. Its new three-engine lineup was co-developed with Hyundai Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. for the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA), while the continuously variable transaxle and all-wheel drive will put it at the forefront of small-car technology.

 

At first glance, the Caliber seems better equipped to be successful — perhaps even profitable — in a segment long dominated by Japanese cars.

 

International aspirations

 

It is no accident the concept versions of the Caliber and the related Compass/Patriot Jeeps made their debut at the Geneva and Frankfurt shows last year. The Caliber arrives outside North America later this year with both right- and left-hand drive models and an optional turbodiesel engine. The Caliber complies with all regulatory requirements, as well as offset crash tests in Europe and Australia and front-impact compliance for Japan and Australia .