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The O.C.

2007 Dodge Caliber SXT

8 posts in this topic

The O.C.    2

I've spent about a week in a Caliber SXT rental......and this review can tag along with Cremazie's......

Let's get to the bad stuff first......I HATE the CVT (as I've hated most of them) in this car. It really seems to rob the car of power....it's awkward-feeling....and none too smooth. You really miss the kind off "step-off" from idle that you get in a torque-converter automatic. The car just kind of ooooozes away from a stop.

That being said, while the car feels heavy, the engine seems to have decent power for a 4-banger in the midrange. I was surprised at how smooth the 2.0L is.....at idle and on acceleration there is very little buzz or vibration even noticeable. It does groan at redline, but the engine noise is probably exaggerated by the CVT that shoots for the redline every time you accelerate.

As already mentioned, the interior is a text-book case of cheap plastics.....seemingly from rubbermaid. However, also like rubbermaid, it all feels like it would last forever. Everything is pretty solidly attached (there's none of the "flexing" of the center console wobbling it back and forth like you can in a Grand Prix for example.) Most of the switchgear feels really nice....with the exception of a cheesy-feeling turn-signal stalk. The shifter is marvelous and feels like they grabbed it straight from Mercedes....it glides down smoothly and accurately and doesn't get "caught up" in the zig-zag gate between gears.

I was most impressed with the solidity of the chassis and the overall ride quality. This thing could be the nicest-riding car for the money out there. I'm sure this is a main contributor to the Caliber's sales success. The solid and soft-riding chassis is something that makes a quick impression immediately on a test-drive.

Again....that being said....this is no handler. There is no joy to tossing this thing around a curve. It rolls, it leans, it understeers severly and early.....but at least it's not floaty over dips and undulations. Body control is good.....actual handling is uninvolving at best. Maybe the R/T with the firmer suspension and better tires is better....

The Caliber also seems to have a decent amount of room inside....and it's very easy to be quite comfortable sitting "behind" yourself in the rear seat. The base 4-speaker stereo CD player actually sounds VERY good in this car. I was surprised how good the sound quality is even on just FM stations. CDs sound fantastic.

A negative? I've run through two tanks of gas.....and I've averaged 21-22mpg with the Caliber. Where's that supposed CVT efficiency? Admittedly I've been driving the car foot-to-the-floor most of the time. My mix has been about half-and-half, city-and-highway. I probably realistically expected mid-20's with this car.

My car is priced at about $17,500 with A/C, CD player, PW, PL, PM. The car feels like it's more of a $20K car in terms of size, roominess, and chassis solidity. I can easily understand why it's doing good in the sales charts.

I would maybe consider one....but ONLY with the 5-speed manual tranny....then you are stuck with the 1.8L engine. Probably, a VERY nice Caliber would be the R/T with the 2.4L, FWD, and 5-speed manual. Currently, the only R/Ts for sales are 2.4L, AWD, and CVT.

It's not the best car out there.....the interior materials do disappoint (HHR does hard plastics MUCH better at this price point)...and the CVT ruins the driving performance of the car.....but Dodge has done a good job with the packaging, fit-and-finish (if not materials) and solid chassis. If nothing else, it bodes well for what the new Lancer will be like....and the Sebring and Avenger (longer and wider versions of this architecture) with V6s and traditional automatics ought to be quite pleasant vehicles.

Edited by The O.C.

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Flybrian    0

I pretty much agree with this and it mirrors my complaints about the Compass, the difference being the Compass' $24-25k pricetag, something I cannot justify with its beyond cheap materials (remember, this is the roadable, city Jeep), lack of power, and woeful CVT.

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trinacriabob    21

I've spent about a week in a Caliber SXT rental......and this review can tag along with Cremazie's......

Let's get to the bad stuff first......I HATE the CVT (as I've hated most of them) in this car.

199932[/snapback]

Hey, The O.C., does CVT feel "harsher" than a transaxle? I thought there would no bumps and grinds from shift points? Is it a simpler assembly that would be less expensive to fix? Is gas mileage better?

I am really curious about it and would like to test drive something that has it.

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The O.C.    2

Hey, The O.C., does CVT feel "harsher" than a transaxle?  I thought there would no bumps and grinds from shift points?  Is it a simpler assembly that would be less expensive to fix?  Is gas mileage better?

I am really curious about it and would like to test drive something that has it.

200232[/snapback]

I don't know if I'd call it "harsher" although this one would tend to "clunk" if you were driving at very slow speeds and quickly got on and off the throttle (as in stop-and-go rush hour traffic.)

It's just mainly wierd. The CVT has a "rubber-banding" effect as you accelerate....especially if you vary the pedal pressure on the gas pedal to compensate for traffic conditions.

When you floor it from a stop, the engine revs immediately up to 6,000rpms and the CVT keeps it at that engine speed until you let off the gas or slightly reduce pedal pressure. So, under full acceleration, you hear the constant groan of the engine up near redline.

There is no "shifting" thorugh the gears like a conventional transmission does.

A CVT is supposed to be more efficient with gas and with performance.....but to me, it SAPS performance....and I only averaged 21.7mpg in the Caliber over two tanks of gas. Therefore, I can't see it being that "efficient."

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Flybrian    0

^^The man speaks truth^^

And its not limited to DCX trannies either. My rental Murano is equally awful in its CVT. My 4-speed Olds feels far, far more spirited, or at the very least normal.

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The O.C.    2

^^The man speaks truth^^

And its not limited to DCX trannies either. My rental Murano is equally awful in its CVT. My 4-speed Olds feels far, far more spirited, or at the very least normal.

200477[/snapback]

I'll take ANY traditional automatic (even a <gasp> GM 4-speed) over ANY CVT I've ever driven.....and yeah, I'm not a big fan of the Murano's either.....

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