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Cremazie Caliber review


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As summer days begin to shorten, three of us decided to take a few days and travel through Jasper and part of Banff national parks. With neither of us wanting to rack up those rough kilometers on our vehicles it was apparent that we would be renting a car. With an internet reservation in hand I walked in to the Alamo and waited for the car I would be awarded in the car lottery. I wanted something compact and expected a Cobalt, Corolla or a Focus, I was pleasantly surprised when he handed me the keys to a 2007 Dodge Caliber.

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The Striking features of the Caliber along with the success of the Magnum and the 300 had me wanting to drive one for some time. The car was a mid ranger with a/c, cd player, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry included in the key (nice feature for such a cheap car) and cruise control. There are many positive things about this car like its size, cooler in dash, driving position, cargo capability and seat comfort. The negative attributes are plain and simple the 2.0 liter engine and CVT transmission.

Driving the car can be fun as long as you don’t have to pass on any single lane roads. The tight steering/suspension and wide tires create an intimate experience with the driver and the road. As a former RSX driver I would say that this car is nearly as fun to toss around corners. The major drawback of course is that engine and CVT combo. The all rev and no go is something I am not a fan of. On several occasions while climbing up hills the car would easily push 5000 rpm to maintain a rather leisure 80 km/hr. Then comes passing (something I would consider stunt driving) to get maximum power out of the engine you have to push it to the floor to hit a extra few more HP. There is a switch (that you can feel) that is hit and allows the CVT to rev at redline for as long as you need it(which seems like forever). If anyone is looking at this car I would suggest staying away from the CVT and opting for the 2.4L engine.

Plain and simple, it is a nice little car just lacking in the engine bay.

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The Caliber is definitely interesting from a design and versatility standpoint, but your experience verifies my worries about lack of power and the odd-feeling CVT.

I still think a light-pressure 2.4L turbo is needed for the R/T at least, with a manual transaxle, to fill the potentially huge power gap between 2.4 NA and SRT-4. That powertrain combo would make me much more interested in looking closer at a Caliber.

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The Caliber is definitely interesting from a design and versatility standpoint, but your experience verifies my worries about lack of power and the odd-feeling CVT.

I still think a light-pressure 2.4L turbo is needed for the R/T at least, with a manual transaxle, to fill the potentially huge power gap between 2.4 NA and SRT-4.  That powertrain combo would make me much more interested in looking closer at a Caliber.

180736[/snapback]

blu, that LP turbo would be a nice package.

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The Caliber is definitely interesting from a design and versatility standpoint, but your experience verifies my worries about lack of power and the odd-feeling CVT.

I still think a light-pressure 2.4L turbo is needed for the R/T at least, with a manual transaxle, to fill the potentially huge power gap between 2.4 NA and SRT-4.  That powertrain combo would make me much more interested in looking closer at a Caliber.

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I think that's a great idea. I also think the Caliber should be offered with an automatic option, inaddition to manual and CVT, like what Ford does with the 500

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  • 3 weeks later...

Excellent write up, never did trust that thing maybe if it didn't have a CVT combo... no no its still bad lol *sigh* and it looks so nice on the outside, but its really whats under the hood that counts :duh:

PS ~ The driver is pretty hot

Edited by GrimJaw
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  • 4 months later...

Good review. I'd love to have one of these but I want some power. When does the SRT-4 become avaliable?

PS: Don't know which one looks better, the car or the driver...

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  • 5 months later...

I am in a minority here, but as for the driver could I get a 23 year old female in a Bikini?

Seriously, I don't like the CVT. Not very impressed with the Caliber...was suprised you liked the handeling, almost everyone else has been very critical of it.

Nice, nice write up by the way, glad you enjoyed your trip.

Chris

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I still think a light-pressure 2.4L turbo is needed for the R/T at least, with a manual transaxle, to fill the potentially huge power gap between 2.4 NA and SRT-4. That powertrain combo would make me much more interested in looking closer at a Caliber.[/b]

Great idea: not so much for the power gain, but for a stronger and flatter torque curve! I'd just add a conventional automatic to the options list.
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  • 3 weeks later...

i wonder how much of this is the electronic throttle culprit again...paired with a CVT, the CVT doesn't 'get' that it needs to change ratio unless you FLOOR it.

I've driven them and indeed, the answer is above.

MORE gas pedal, or more power.

The one I drove wasn't bad, but it wasn't a performance car for sure.

Snowmobile guys love the CVT trannys.

I'm on the fence.

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I've driven them and indeed, the answer is above.

MORE gas pedal, or more power.

The one I drove wasn't bad, but it wasn't a performance car for sure.

Snowmobile guys love the CVT trannys.

I'm on the fence.

I hate CVTS in cars, I love them in snowmobiles. The reason they are so good in snowmobiles is they match very well to high rpms in 2 cycle engines and high revving 4 cycles in late years. Now cars only go to 6k and have more low end torque. CVTs forget about the torque and blast the rpms up to max hp. Feels like junk and sounds like $h!. I have driven quite a few and they are all less than par to a 4 speed tranny.

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I hate CVTS in cars, I love them in snowmobiles. The reason they are so good in snowmobiles is they match very well to high rpms in 2 cycle engines and high revving 4 cycles in late years. Now cars only go to 6k and have more low end torque. CVTs forget about the torque and blast the rpms up to max hp. Feels like junk and sounds like $h!. I have driven quite a few and they are all less than par to a 4 speed tranny.

Maybe the 300hp SRT4 will be better suited to the CVT, who knows. The one I drove was the 2.0 (I think) and while it had adequate power it needed to be driven a little "different" than a regular auto in order to get up and go.... more pedal! lol

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