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On the market since the 2007 model year, the Dodge Caliber hatchback is back for the 2011 model year with standard stability control on most models, revised steering, and a newly available navigation system with real-time traffic and travel information.
The Caliber competes against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, the Kia Soul, the Mazda3, and the Subaru Impreza.
It's tall and has plenty of headroom as a result, but the Caliber's styling is a little too angular and overwrought from many angles. Last year, a new dash corrected the worst offense inside the Caliber--lots of hard plastic and a dated appearance.
Four-cylinder engines are the Caliber's calling card. The base versions work it out with a 158-hp 2.0-liter four; a 172-hp, 2.4-liter four can be found on pricier versions. Both engines can be ordered with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but it encourages the engines to rev at their noisiest, and its performance is unimpressive. With tighter steering the Caliber still doesn't have the reflexes of a Golf, but does have decent ride quality.
When it comes to fuel economy, the Caliber earns a middling score. It is rated at 23/31 mpg for the base engine and five-speed manual gearbox, and 23/29 mpg for the larger 2.4-liter and manual. The CVT, which should improve fuel economy, delivers 23/27 mpg paired with the 2.0-liter, and a truly disappointing 21/25 mpg with the larger engine.
Flexibility is the Caliber's forte, with its large cabin, supportive seats and large hatchback opening. Safety lags, since stability control is not offered on the base model. In crash testing, the Caliber scored well in prior years with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the agency's revised ratings haven't yet been applied to the car this model year.The Caliber's improvements could help it soldier on for another year, but Chrysler's new partner Fiat has announced plans to build a new compact Dodge sedan, a four-door based on Fiat architecture.
For more information on this hatchback, see our most recent full review of the Dodge Caliber.