By KBB.com Editors
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 2010 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 commuter car to a well-equipped model featuring such unique items as a flip-down rear speaker bar, built-in iPod holder and a refrigerated beverage cooler, features you won't find on the Volkswagen Golf or MAZDA3. Then again, despite a modest upgrade this year, 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.
Whether you're looking to get some versatility with your economy or some economy with your versatility, the 2010 Dodge Caliber throws in a little attitude as well.
While the Dodge Caliber's base sticker price is hard to beat, its interior plastics are still not up to the standards set by Volkswagen and Mazda. Interior sound levels and engine noise is also a bit on the loud side.
For 2010, Dodge offers just one trim, the SXT, but with five lifestyle-inspired variants: Express, Mainstreet, Uptown, Heat and Rush. All Caliber models receive a new interior with soft touch plastics on the doors and armrest, a new center console design and front seat active head restraints. A five speed manual transmission is standard on most trims, with two different CVT automatics are available.
Driving Impressions While the Caliber's mission in life is decidedly more utilitarian than performance oriented, we managed to have some fun in sportiest model, the Rush. With its 172-horsepower engine, sportier suspension...and five-speed manual transmission, the Rush is the model we'd choose to take camping – especially if the campgrounds were at the end of a curvy canyon road. While the five-speed manual is not the smoothest we've tested, it works well enough to make the drive somewhat sporting. Most consumers will probably choose the available Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that offers an 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.
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.
Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with Auto Stick
While the idea of engineering artificial gearing into the Caliber's "gearless" CVT might seem counterproductive, the ability to control the transmission with ultra-responsive manual shifts is very useful.
The 2010 Dodge Caliber is pleasantly roomy and functional, especially for a vehicle with such a modest price tag. With a fold-flat rear seat and available fold-flat front passenger seat, Caliber's hatchback design accommodates a variety of cargo and passenger configurations. Standard cloth seating can be upgraded to leather (Uptown), while all trims receive more soft touch padding on the door armrest, center armrest and dash. Overall, the newly upgraded interior is nicely designed and offers a variety of clever features, such as the standard Chill Zone cooling glove box and available flip-out rear speaker bar.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, but not as streamlined as the Toyota Matrix 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.
Along with a 2.0-liter engine and five-speed manual transmission, a base Dodge Caliber SXT Express features front and rear side-curtain airbags, inflatable knee blocker, UConnect Phone (Bluetooth), iPod Control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, power windows, mirrors and locks, cruise control, keyless entry, 115-volt outlet, air conditioning and four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS). The top-of-the-line Uptown trim adds an automatic transmission, leather seating, heated front seats, automatic air conditioning, nine-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system, power driver's seat and steering wheel audio controls. The sporty Rush and Heat models add larger wheel and tire packages, sport suspensions and upgraded interiors, while the Rush alone adds a more powerful 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine.
Most of the 2010 Dodge Caliber's equipment is bundled into one of its five available trims. The few available features includes a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and the Security Package, which adds remote start, security alarm, front side-impact airbags and Hill Start Assist (in manual transmission-equipped cars).
The Caliber's two engine choices each have four cylinders and 16 valves. The base engine displaces 2.0-liters and is good for 158 horsepower, while the Rush model gets a 2.4-liter engine rated at 172 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the Express, Rush and Heat trims, while the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is standard on the Mainstreet and Uptown trims. The Express can only be ordered with the manual transmission, while the CVT with Auto Stick manual shift mode is available only on the Heat and Rush trim.
2.0-liter in-line 4
158 horsepower @6400 rpm
141 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 (manual), 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)
By Mario on Friday, March 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Affordable, comfortable, sporty"
Cons: "None, really!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I've had my caliber for 7 years and am extremely happy with it. I've kept up with my oil changes and your basic maintenance. Other than that, nothing major has gone wrong with it!!!!!"
By K.C. on Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "extremely comfortable ride, fun to drive, reliable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I just bought this car a week or so ago and it is very easy to drive and extremely comfortable on long drives. It's interior design is clean and stylish. I feel safe driving with my kids in it, also. It's an overall great vehicle. I'm really enjoying owning this vehicle!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Remik on Tuesday, February 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Warms up nice, Roomy. Nice fold down rear seats!"
Cons: "HUGE BLIND SPOTS, BAD SUSPENTION, NO parts!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"We bought this car in 2008 and it begin to have SUSPENSION TROUBLE about a year later, and it has been NON STOP! It is a good thing we bought the extended warranty! I highly recommend it if you are gonna buy this car! We basically have replaced the entire suspension. Now we are starting to have trouble with the THROTTLE ASSEMBLY AND ACTUATOR...We just found out that it COULD BE AS MUCH AS 6 MONTHS BEFORE WE CAN GET IT REPLACED, because there are NONE! Yup that is right!!! 1,500 THROTTLE ASSEMBLIES ON BACK ORDER!!!! AND THE COMPANY HAS NO PLANS TO MAKE THE PART AT THE MOMENT. There are NONE to be found in the United States new or used! So we are just out of luck! Also the car has HUGE blind spots in the rear sides. We owe more then it is worth at this point, can't wait to get rid of it!!!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Bruce on Monday, February 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"We've had this car for three years and have done lots of long distance driving. This car is great for long distance driving because of the very comfortable front seats. We've had no leg fatigue, which I can't say didn't happen in some of our other cars. It has had a mostly quiet ride ever since we replaced the original tires with quieter radials. The engine is quiet. I like the cargo space in the hatchback trunk, and the versatility with flattening the seats. The worst aspect of this car is the lack of pep when starting from a stop. The fuel economy is OK and averages 25mpg city driving and 29 mpg highway."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Ann on Sunday, February 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, great sound system"
Cons: "gas mileage could be better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great compact car with an excellent sound system. Sporty looking in the sunburst orange color with black leather interior. I have never had any issues with this car. I bought it brand new (single owner), high mileage is all from freeway miles (work to home radius is 110 miles). Added window rain guards and chrome door handles which look great with the big chrome rims."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By pommom on Monday, January 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "rides nice easier to get in&out than regular car."
Cons: "built very cheaply!!!!!!!not durable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Have this car for 4 years and have already stuck almost $5,000 into it. They are built way to cheap. None of the driving suspension holds up. Replaced both front rocker arms, strutts, bearings, links in front, rear latteral links and thermostats just to name a few.STAY AWAY FROM THESE CARS.You just wind up throwing your money away."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful