By KBB.com Editors
Small cars are becoming increasingly more versatile, and few vehicles better epitomize this trend than the Dodge Caliber, a combination hatchback/wagon/SUV that effectively replaces the Neon small sedan as Dodge's most affordable offering. While the Caliber is actually about an inch shorter than the Neon, it's substantially more versatile and brings a much bigger presence to the street and the parking lot.You'll Like This Car If...
Whether you're looking to get some versatility with your economy, or some economy with your versatility, the Dodge Caliber throws in a little attitude as well.You May Not Like This Car If...
While the Dodge Caliber's base sticker price of $13,985 is actually $410 less than the outgoing Neon's, it doesn't include air conditioning and power windows and door locks. A fully loaded Caliber R/T can top $24,000.What's New for 2007
While the Chevrolet HHR and Toyota Matrix continue to be sold alongside the Chevrolet Cobalt and Toyota Corolla on which they are respectively based, the five-door Caliber is significant in that it replaces its sedan predecessor altogether.Driving It Driving Impressions
While the Caliber's mission in life is decidedly more utilitarian than performance oriented, we managed to have some fun in an all-wheel-drive R/T model. With its 172-horsepower engine, sportier suspension and continuously variable transmission, the R/T is the model we'd choose to take campingespecially if the campgrounds were at the end of a curvy canyon road. The continuously variable transmission offers a "manual-mode," which allows the driver to select any one of six "ratios" and thus hold onto that gearing step if necessary or desired. As for the more modestly motivated Calibers, we found them as competent around town and on the highway as most of the competition.Favorite Features
As part of the 458-watt Boston Acoustics premium audio system, the Caliber's rearmost speakers flip down from the open liftgate to project outward for tailgate parties, picnics and other outdoor activities.
While the idea of engineering artificial gearing into the Caliber's "gearless" continuously variable transmission might seem counterproductive, the ability to control the transmission with ultra-responsive manual shifts is very useful.