Oh yeah, the Dodge Caliber was a thing
Remember when Dodge tried to make a Ford Focus rival?
In the 2000s, Dodge were in a bit of a weird mess, as was the rest of Chrysler. In the 2000s, Dodge was only selling a handful of dreary cars, which hasn’t gotten much better until recently. By the time 2005 came around, the Neon was aging quite quickly, despite it still being a somewhat popular car. 2005 was also the year when Dodge revealed the Caliber concept to the wrong, which was a thinly veiled version of the production car which came in 2006, as a 2007 model.
The Caliber indirectly replaced the Neon and Chrysler PT Cruiser. The Caliber was met with lukewarm sales with just over 200,000 units being shifted in the US and Canada by the end of 2007. And by the time it was taken off sale in 2013, with about half a million being sold in the US and Canada.
Rivals included the Mazda 3, VW Golf, Saturn/Opel Astra and other models which don’t sell too well in North America. Sales weren’t strong in Europe as better alternatives were out there. Keep in mind, when the Caliber went on sale in Europe, the first generation Kia C’eed and Hyundai i30 went on sale and they did much, much better.
Quality of the Caliber wasn’t great as it came from the period of Chrysler in the 2000s where everything was terrible. Materials on the inside were cheap and grey, mechanical parts were parts bin specials, bought in from other manufactures or just poorly made. Parts came from all over the place with manufactures like VW, Mitsubishi and Jatco. Also, the Caliber sat on the Chrysler PM/MK platform which spawned a number of dull cars. Saying that, this platform can be seen in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, which used a heavily modified version of the Chrysler PM/MK platform but called the Mitsubishi GS platform.
Performance wise, the Caliber didn’t have much going for it. The Caliber was offered with a mix of petrol and diesel engines, with the most interesting one being the 2.4-litre turbo petrol which was seen in the Caliber SRT-4 producing a respectable 285bhp and 265lb ft of torque. This was good for 2008, where rivals like the Golf GTI and Mazdaspeed 3 produced less power but performed better and outsold the Caliber SRT-4.
But, does the Caliber deserve to be remembered in automotive history? Well, the Caliber was Chrysler’s attempt at a Euro-styled hatchback and only really sold well in its home market. We won’t remember it in years to come as previous models like the Neon and PT Cruiser stands out more than the Caliber. However, there is an entire Instagram page dedicated to the Caliber, so at least someone remembers it.