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2008 Dodge Caliber

Overview
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2008 Dodge Caliber Review

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Small cars are becoming increasingly more versatile, and few vehicles better epitomize this trend than the 2008 Dodge Caliber, a combination hatchback, wagon and SUV. Although 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...

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 is hard to beat, it doesn't include air conditioning and power windows and door locks. A fully-loaded Caliber R/T can top $24,000.

What's Significant About This Car?

Chrome trim is added to the interior door handles, locks and ventilation knobs, while the R/T receives heated front seats as standard equipment.

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 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

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.

CVT AutoStick
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.

2008 Dodge Caliber Details
Interior

The Dodge Caliber is pleasantly roomy and functional, especially for a vehicle close to $14,500. 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 side-curtain airbags, 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 non-power 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 (CVT) and all-wheel drive. Typical optional equipment includes leather seating, a sun roof and audio system upgrades that include a six-CD changer and premium speakers. Unique extras include flip-down tailgate speakers, a chilled glove box, 115-volt wall-style electrical outlet, UConnect Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and a removable and rechargeable flashlight. Optional items that some competitors include as standard equipment include power windows, door locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, traction control and antilock brakes (ABS).

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: 24/29

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: 23/28 (manual), 21/25 (automatic), 20/24 (AWD)

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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2008 Dodge Caliber Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
7.2
Out of 10

Based on 670 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

love! needed to be 4wd though!

By on Thursday, April 17, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Cons: "only fwd rather than 4wd"

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

my baby

"I had some issues with the front control arms...got to love those low profiles! But all around Great car."

my baby

Great performance/Acceleration/Dependable/29mpg

By on Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Economy"

Cons: "I am 6' tall and its somewhat awkward getting into"

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

"Bought this a year ago. Runs great. 29mph all the time, I actually got 31mph driving to Illinois at a constant 65/70mph. It has the 2.4 with CVT transmission. The roof could be taller because its a little awkward getting in and out of."

Poorly designed and poorly built vehicle.

By on Thursday, April 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 124,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
4/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
2/10
Comfort
1/10

Pros: "good engine transmission"

Cons: "poor design, mechanical problems"

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

"This is a poorly designed and poorly built vehicle. I drive it very conservatively, but it has had several suspension problems and other mechanical problems with under 60k miles on the vehicle. It is uncomfortable, noisey, and does not ride well. The engine and transmission have not had any issues, but for a small car I expected to get 30 mpg and do not. I like the look of the car, but it is very basic transportation at best."

Poorly designed and poorly built vehicle.

By on Thursday, April 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 124,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
4/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
2/10
Comfort
1/10

Pros: "good engine transmission"

Cons: "poor design, mechanical problems"

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

"This is a poorly designed and poorly built vehicle. I drive it very conservatively, but it has had several suspension problems and other mechanical problems with under 60k miles on the vehicle. It is uncomfortable, noisey, and does not ride well. The engine and transmission have not had any issues, but for a small car I expected to get 30 mpg and do not. I like the look of the car, but it is very basic transportation at best."

Car has no redeeming qualities...not even a decent

By on Tuesday, April 01, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000

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: "better than walking"

Cons: "no radio, no floor mats no pick up stals at traff"

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

"Do not buy this car,,, has no redeeming qualities not even a decent radio. Bought it after having no sleep and payed more than kbb value for it. The only thing about this vehicle is that it is better than walking."

Awesome everything!

By on Monday, March 31, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,500

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

Pros: "Fun to drive, ok price, amazing sound, fast"

Cons: "none I can think of"

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

The day I drove it off the lot

"I've had this car for two years now and I love it. It's fast, with good gas mileage, awesome sound system, and looks great. The only thing I would change is my driving record after purchasing this car."

The day I drove it off the lot

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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