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2009 Dodge Caliber

Overview
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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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Buying this car?

2009 Dodge Caliber Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
7.2
Out of 10

Based on 682 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

Reliable! a good deal!

By on Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Underated and efficient"

Cons: "Plastic parts wear out."

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

"I purchased my 2009 caliber with 69k miles in Feb. 2013. I've put on it already 30K miles and I've no issues at all. Of course I service it every 3K miles and it has payed off. Good gas mileage ~28 mpg. I use it to commute to work and I enjoy it very much. There is good space also in the back sit for my daughter's car sit. Overall I've been impressed with the caliber's performance, comfort and efficiency."

always reliable

By on Monday, July 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 122,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
8/10

Cons: "headrest very uncomfortable"

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

"i have owned this car since new. I have my routine oil changes and check ups. it may not be the fanciest car I have owned, but the most reliable! I am thinking of trading but still LOVE it. good looking, great on the highway, fast and steady."

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

One of the worse cars on the road.

By on Friday, July 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
4/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "GAS MILAGE ONLY"

Cons: "EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST BAD!!!!"

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

"GOT CAR AT 38K MILES. DO NOT PURCHASE THIS CAR UNLESS ITS BRAND NEW THEN SELL IMMEDIATELY ONCE IT HITS 50K!!! ELECTRONICS: 1 FRONT HEADLIGHT HOUSING AND BOTH REAR LIGHT HOUSINGS STARTING LEAKING AT 43K AND WILL TAKE ATLEAST $1,000+ TO FIX ALL 3, WINDSHIELD WASHER FLUID PUMP WENT OUT AT 45K, ALARM SYSTEM AND HORN AT 45K(OF COURSE THESE CARS DO NOT HAVE A 15 CENT FUSE; IF HORN FAILS, DEALERSHIP IS REQUIRED TO CHANGE THE COMPUTER)DEALERSHIP SAID IF ITS COMPUTER THEN IT IS ANOTHER $1200 AND WANTS $150 JUST TO FIND THE PROBLEM, NOT FIX IT. ABS AND CRUISE CONTROL AT 6OK. NOW THE SPEED ODOMETER IS STICKING WHEN IT RAINS. FRONT PASSENGER TIRE HAD 6OZ OF WEIGHT DUE TO DEALERSHIP HIDING A FLAW IN THE TIRE. IT IS ILLEGAL TO HAVE MORE THAN 4OZ ON A COMMERCIAL VEHICLE TIRE. ONLY ISSUED ME AN APOPOGY FOR THIS. THERE IS MORE BUT THIS SHOULD KEEP YOU AWAY FROM THESE VEHICLES."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

It's great!!

By on Monday, June 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "lots of room, good in winter, good on gas,"

Cons: "no running lights"

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

"I bought my 2012 dodge caliber in late July of 2013, originally meant to replace my 2001 Durango. The car has had no problems at all since purchased, very reliable. i love the design of the seats, there really comfortable on your back. the rear seats fold down and so does the front passenger, easily fits myself and two others along with our skis and gear. The factory audio system is excellent!! very crisp sounding speakers, and absolutely killer bass. the 2.0 liter in my caliber does great on gas. easily 25mpg city and 32mpg highway. The beverage cooler in the glove box is also very handy, in the summer it does as a great chill zone to keep some drinks, and in the winter it can do as extra storage. its also fantastic in the winter, with the very "peppy" 2.0 liter. i love the car!! its great! and i cannot believe the sound system, its amazing!!"

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Good little buggy

By on Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 141,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"This little buggy has taken me through all of whatever weather ND oilfields have had to offer. Very reliable and a great little 4WD."

7 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Drives and handles very well, Poor gas mileage

By on Friday, June 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Driveablility"

Cons: "gas mileage"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"this car drives and handles very well. I will say the struts are noisy when the car is cold in the morning. Gas mileage is poor..I average only 22mpg combined and about 26 on the highway... I expected closer to 30mpg"

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

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