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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 740 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

Great Vehicle

By on Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 164,067

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "fun to drive and handling is great!"

Cons: "ability to unlock doors from passenger side."

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

"Love this car, it has served me very well, no mechanical problems since I've owned it. Handles very well on wet pavements. Cost effective too."

very well maintained (aftermarket warranty)

By on Sunday, May 22, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 128,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "easy to drive in town or freeway"

Cons: "no race car;does very good on frwy"

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

"never late on oil change. seats work fine but upholstery fabric is rough due to my pets claws. Use seat covers; appearance problem solved. Rear taillight is cracked. doesn't leak and is not a problem. Noticeable only on very close inspection, if then. VEHICLE IS EXCELLENT MECHANICALLY/ recent intake manifold changed along with wheel alignment and bearings... a few dings/one scratch. NO SMOKERS IN CAR. AC is cold. All windows and phone charger work. I's a nice cushy ride. Drives very well."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

horrible transmission

By on Thursday, April 21, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "driver's compartment"

Cons: "transmission"

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

"The car drove well for the first few years, then the transmission began to slip and jerk. Dodge service department said that the transmission is the same design as a golf cart and there was no fix for the problem except to replace it. All other aspects of the car are great. Good fuel economy, driver compartment is great, motor has performed very well. No other issues."

7 people out of 10 found this review helpful

Garbage Car

By on Sunday, March 27, 2016

I owned and sold this car
Reason: bad mileage

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
1/10
Comfort
1/10

Pros: "no pris"

Cons: "complete garbage and Dodge even agreed"

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

"This car is a piece of garbage and not worth $.50. I did not want this car but the dealership convinced my husband it was a great car. Not a great car, gas hog, ugly, uncomfortable, moldy and just plain not good."

5 people out of 19 found this review helpful

good price for a terrible ride

By on Thursday, March 17, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
4/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "low price, good mileage"

Cons: "terrible ride, awful transmission, ugly interior"

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

"I was able to buy a 3 year old caliber for a good price, but you get what you pay for. the manual transmission was rough when I bought it and the clutch burned out in 2 years, when I replaced the clutch, the transmission began to slip right away. the suspension rides like a pioneer wagon from the gold rush, and the interior is very bare."

4 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Bought it for the wrong reasons

By on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

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

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "beautiful and good on gas"

Cons: "no room in the back seat, poor quality"

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

"I loved the look of this car but shortly after we purchased it we began to put alot of money into it. I still have it and it continues to have mechanical issues! And the back seat is not made with kids in mind, there is no room for their feet."

9 people out of 11 found this review helpful

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