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2009 Dodge Caliber

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2009 Dodge Caliber Review

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As fuel costs continue to fluctuate, small cars are increasingly required to be more than just frugal commuters. Few vehicles better epitomize this trend than the 2009 Dodge Caliber, a combination hatchback, wagon and SUV. Dodge's most affordable offering, the Caliber is no bargain-basement car. Models range from a fuel-efficient economy car to a powerful all-wheel-drive variant and include such appealing options as a flip-down rear speaker bar, built-in iPod holder and a refrigerated beverage cooler, features you won't find on the Volkswagen Rabbit or MAZDA3. Then again, the plastics used to form the interior are not as sophisticated or handsome as those inside the VW and Mazda, an important issue for many savvy young buyers.

You'll Like This Car If...

Changes for 2009 are minor, adding body-colored door handles to SXT models and improvements in interior sound reduction across the line. Anti-lock brakes are now standard on the SXT, while uconnect gps navigation is made available for the first time.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Whether you're looking to get some versatility with your economy or some economy with your versatility, the 2009 Dodge Caliber throws in a little attitude as well.

What's New for 2009

Changes for 2009 are minor, adding body-colored door handles to SXT models and improvements in interior sound reduction across the line. Anti-lock brakes are now standard on the SXT, while uconnect gps navigation is made available for the first time.

Driving the Caliber

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 camping – especially if the campgrounds were at the end of a curvy canyon road. The continuously variable transmission offers the Auto Stick "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.

MusicGate Speakers
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.

CVT2 Auto Stick
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.

2009 Dodge Caliber Details
Interior

The 2009 Dodge Caliber is pleasantly roomy and functional, especially for a vehicle with such a modest price tag. With a fold-flat rear seat and fold-flat front passenger seat (SXT and R/T), Caliber's hatchback design accommodates a variety of cargo and passenger configurations. Standard cloth seating can be upgraded to stain-resistant cloth or leather. A sport appearance package features a shifter bezel, dash trim and seat inserts coordinated with the vehicle's exterior color. Overall, the interior is nicely designed and offers a variety of clever features as either standard or optional equipment.

Exterior

With unique proportions, sharp-curve styling and Dodge's signature crosshair grille, the Caliber is perhaps the most distinctive five-door/crossover/wagon offered in the sub-$20,000 arena. It's bigger than the MAZDA3 and Volkswagen Rabbit, not as streamlined as the Toyota Matrix or Pontiac Vibe and has none of the retro vibe of the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevrolet HHR. Up-level Calibers are distinguished by chrome side moldings and grille, fog lights and bigger, aluminum wheels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Along with a 1.8-liter engine and five-speed manual transmission, a base Dodge Caliber SE features front and rear side-curtain airbags, inflatable knee blocker, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/AUX sound system, sliding armrest with cellphone/MP3-player holder, tilt steering, illuminated cup holders, rear-window defroster and wiper, 15-inch covered steel wheels and manual windows, door locks and mirrors. The SXT adds anti-lock brakes (ABS), air conditioning with Chill Zone storage compartment, split folding rear seats, cruise control, Stain Repel stain resistant seat fabric, 115-volt outlet, 17-inch aluminum wheels, removable cargo light, and power functions for the windows, door locks and mirrors.

Optional Equipment

Dodge Caliber's powertrain options include 2.0- and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines, a continuously variable transmission (CVT2) with Auto Stick and all-wheel drive (R/T). Typical optional equipment includes leather seating, a power sun roof, front-seat side-impact airbags, uconnect tunes audio system with 30-gigabyte hard drive and uconnect gps with real-time traffic updates. Unique extras include a chilled glove box, uconnect Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and a Boston Acoustics nine-speaker audio upgrade with flip-down tailgate speakers.

Under the Hood

The three engine choices each have four cylinders and 16 valves. The base engine displaces 1.8 liters, makes 148 horsepower and is matched with a five-speed manual transmission. Up from there is a 2.0-liter version of 158 horsepower, and then a 2.4-liter version rated at 172 horsepower. Both of the larger engines are matched with the continuously variable transmission (CVT). On all-wheel-drive models, the CVT can be manually "shifted" through six simulated gears. With an optional trailer package, the 2.4-liter R/T model is rated to pull up to 2,000 pounds.

1.8-liter in-line 4
148 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
125 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5200 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 24/30

2.0-liter in-line 4
158 horsepower @6400 rpm
141 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 23/27 (automatic)

2.4-liter in-line 4
172 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
165 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 23/29 (manual), 21/25 (automatic)

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2009 Dodge Caliber Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
7.3
Out of 10

Based on 728 Ratings for the 2007 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    7.7/10
    Quality
    7.4/10
  • Reliability
    8.0/10
    Performance
    7.5/10
  • Comfort
    7.8/10
    Styling
    8.0/10

Pretty grateful for this car

By on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 197,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Great price. Low engine maintenance needs."

Cons: "Lower front control arms changed multiple times."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought this car with 46 miles on it in 2007. I've been the only owner and have been very stingy about who I let use it beside myself. It was base model with standard engine. I can't complain. It's not a fussy car, and the upkeep has been pretty easy. Only reason I wouldn't buy another is because where I live the terrain wears out my lower front control arms fast. I've had to replace them almost every year these last few years. I'm not against others buying this, but I would advise to be aware of this issue if you live in an area that would be hard on your axles. I still drive the car and plan to give it to my son this coming year when he gets his license. It a good car to grow with."

versatile, reliable, cheap thrills

By on Friday, August 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "versatile, cheap to maintain, reliable"

Cons: "CVT transmission, low quality interior"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I've had my sxt caliber with 2.0L and CVT for 120k miles and counting. This car has been reliable, cheap to run/maintain and is very versatile. I regularly get 30+ mpg. With rear seats down, I can fit plywood, a desk and even a full size wood pallet nearly flat on the floor (not all at once). It's very easy to keep clean and has required only minor unscheduled maintenance. Ball joints and tie rods needed replacing after 60k miles and a wheel speed sensor replaced at 100k. The interior is cheap, yet comfortable and functional and easy to keep clean. While the CVT is a smooth transmission, it does put a damper on performance. A 5 speed stick may be more fun with the 2.0L. I absolutely love this car. Sure, it's cheap but it just keeps going, like a tough little donkey."

Fun car to drive. Very versatile. Good MPG

By on Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is a fun car to drive. Very versatile. I loved the hatch back feature and the fact that the back seats lay forward for those big Costco runs. Seating is comfortable. Great gas mileage."

Pretty Good for the costs

By on Thursday, July 16, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 162,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "good car for the price"

Cons: "hard to clean console"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I bought this vehicle in 2006, I've had minimal issues. For what the car is, it drives well, excels well, the a/c is great and I love the folding seats as I bring my 2 dogs everywhere I go. Although when I bought it I lived in Va, the heated seats have been used here in SC too. I really can't find anything to complain about. It's been a good car for the money. I would buy another."

7 people out of 13 found this review helpful

GOOD GET-AROUND CAR

By on Monday, July 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"hAVE HAD NO REPAIRS DONE FOR SIX YEARS, BUT I DO HAVE LOW MILEAGE. IS DEPENDABLE FOR ME..LOUD ROAD NOISE WHICH ICAN HANDLE.."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

I love this car!

By on Monday, June 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 108,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "good gas milage, reliable, lots of room for size"

Cons: "low power, poor finish on interior door handles."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"The only reasons I didn't rate the car higher is my husband complains it is a "dead-head" - not sure what he expected with a 1.9 lt. engine, and the interior door handles are very poor quality. The "chrome" covering began to peel and was exceedingly sharp. Cut me more than once. Otherwise, I love this car. It is perfect for my small family. I love that I can get an extra large dog crate in the back and still have room for my son. The 60/40 seat split is one of my favorite features."

9 people out of 17 found this review helpful

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