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Dodge Caliber Test Drive - What Did You Think?



  • pacermanpacerman Posts: 62
    I too test drove both, but I found the steering in the HHR to vague and lacked road feedback especially when cornering, maybe they need to put a bit more caster in the front end? Both rode the same. I liked more room in the HHR.I like the retro look of the HHR but the caliber is cool too. There seems to be quite a few electrical and water seepage problems in the HHR according to the HHR forums.I'm waiting to test drive an RT, I like the AWD option, one can get an RT awd for the same price (actually a bit less) as a FWD HHR......... as having owned a few snowmobiles the CVT in the Caliber didn't bother me. For me right now, it boils down to which one gets the best gas mileage and the price, I like 'em both.Both have the same towing capacity of 1000# which is pretty anemic....the Vibe is rated @ 1500#....... :confuse:
  • wcottwcott Posts: 35
    I just test drove the Caliber SXT the other day. It performed pretty well, and I was impressed with the styling and the little handy-dandy things that SHOULD be on cars these days.
    I think the full-sized spare is great, along with the lit cup holders and the cool-zone glovebox.
    I'd have bought it right then and there, except I'd like to wait for a deal on financing or some kind of incentive from DaimlerChrysler/Dodge. I think 6 percent on new cars is a tad high. They're offering 0 percent on trucks and vans, however. It's annoying.
    I am wondering about the 17-inch tires, though. I am feeling these tires are going to cost a fortune to replace, as the cheapest ones I can find are pushing 175 dollars (canadian) each.
  • kernickkernick Posts: 4,072
    So if you got a car with 16" tires you might save $30/tire? Or a $120 total when you have to replace them at 40K - 50K miles. You really shouldn't be looking at a new car if this amount of extra money bothers you. :) Buy a used Ford Escort with 14" wheels.
  • bookhudbookhud Posts: 9
    Drove a Marine Blue SXT today (nice color). Test drove it through driving rain and hail (quite a test drive!) and it handled quite nicely. Waiting for the keys I was struck by the front of the car. The headlights seem huge for a car of this size. The range of the front seats are amazing! I had the height adjustment up pretty high which made the rear legroom pretty good even with the front seat all the way back. However, with the front seat as low and far back as possible I couldn't even get into the back seat! Also the bass on the radio is almost too much. Even with the bass set in the middle I could still feel it pounding. I haven't quite sold myself on turning in my Pac yet, but I didn't talk myself out of it today either. That is what I was really afraid would happen when I got behind on the wheel of a Caliber. I did notice that there was quite a bit of splash on the sides (even before the torrential rain) I would think that mud flaps would be a good idea. Hmmmm, what to do what to do.
  • Hello people! I test drove my first Caliber SE with CVT yesterday. I didn't like the CVT transmission at all. It felt like I was riding a snowmobile. SO NOISY!! And I didn't feel the power of the 2.0L engine or any good acceleration. I am interested in the SXT sport package, 5 speed. Hopefully, the manual transmission will be better, but I have to wait 5-8 weeks since they haven't even started making them. I liked the car so far, the interior is quite roomy and the exterior looks awesome. But, I found that the interior needs refinement. All the plastic edges in the car were shoddy. I also wonder why the sliding console doesn't lock into place?! What's with the automatic transmission shifter, when in park, blocks you from adjusting the temperature gauges with ease? When seated, I find it pretty hard to reach the reclining lever... It's easier if you open the door... :confuse:

    For the exterior, on the sport versions, you get the "black out tape" on the door frames which is actually a rough piece of thin sticky plastic... It doesn't look easy to clean, and will peel off after a few winters.

    I think Dodge should of taken more time to refine some details... even for a car in that price range. Perhaps the delay in their launch date had something to do with it and they had to rush the production of the Caliber?
  • willsimwillsim Posts: 33
    Car&Driver agrees with you. In their comparision test they said "But as it stands, this sharp-edged box feels like it's seven-eighths of the way through its development--as if it needs more Caliberation."
  • my fiance is 6'5" male. we tested the caliber for me. i am only 5'7" . obviously i fit fine. he said he probably wouldnt buy it if it was for his main vehicle, but as a passenger it wasnt great,but it wasnt bad. I think for a 6' person, it would be more than sufficient. I was impressed with the viewablity. i thought the windows were too small from the outside, but was amazed by the view while driving.
  • gljvdgljvd Posts: 129
    Hmm interesting , I'm 6'4 and was going to look into the jeep patriot which is based on this platform but should be slightly bigger. IT sucks he doesn't fit well in it , I'm affraid now I wont fit well in the jeep.

    Sadly there isn't much choice for a 6 + drivers in the sub 20k price range
  • well, try it...he didnt actually drive it, so he didnt do the driver seat adjustments like others here are talking about. he just hung out in the passenger seat!
    good luck!
  • editor_karleditor_karl Posts: 418
    Hey Guys,

    I just drove a Caliber R/T about 100 miles yesterday and came away generally disappointed. The two areas that I felt the car under-delivered in were performance and interior quality. You can read my entire blog entry here, but the short version is that the interior plastics are substandard and the engine/CVT combination make it feel underpowered. I know "SRT" is the real performance designation at Dodge, but for this car to wear an "R/T" badge and still feel this sluggish is unacceptable IMHO. I've been generally happy with most of DCX's new product offerings in the last couple years, but this one leaves me cold.

  • canoenutcanoenut Posts: 12
    What a ridiculous opinion piece! How about comparing comparable vehicles? Why not take another AWD hatchback or wagon with an automatic transmission and then you'd be comparing apples with apples.
  • Amen, brother! I think Karl has driven too many super cars to appreciate the Caliber for what it is: a tremendously smart, useful and comfortable vehicle at a very competitive price. Let the tuners whine about the Neon, I want a car i can USE!
  • Karl,
    I had been driving my Caliber STX about 1800 miles before I found about the step in the gas pedal. You push down on the gas, and it is like pushing on air up to a point. Most people would never know to go further. Try pushing it further you might even think you are going to break something. And I think you will be surprised at the power.
    I think you are under rating the performance; you should go back and try it again. You will be surprised.
  • lablover2lablover2 Posts: 106
    i went to a dodge dealer and test drove the caliber sxt yesterday and i loved it! it drove much nicer than the vibe or matrix in my opinion and i liked the added horsepower but still decent gas mileage. the dealer only had one on the lot so i am waiting for more cars to come in-i may go back and put some $ down so i get what i want. seems like they are only taking $500 off sticker plus the $500 rebate, is that about right?
  • orangertorangert Posts: 41
    Yea about right. I got a little over 1300 off. On the lot not an ordered car.
  • Hello people! I just wanted to let you know... I bought a black Caliber SXT, 1.8L, 5speed about 2 weeks ago. I'll only get it in 4-6 weeks, but when I bought the car, it was only after test driving an SE with CVT2. I personally don't like the CVT2 at all. It's clumsy and very noisy! I just can't stand it! I am more of a manual transmission car type guy. With manual, I feel a lot more control over the car. It's easier to get the power you want, when you need it! Anyway, my point is, I went back to the same dealership where I ordered the car this past weekend and, I was pretty surprised when I saw a 1.8L, 5 speed, orange SE Caliber on the lot... Last time I checked, the guys at the dealership told me that they were only going to start getting manual transmissions Calibers in mid-may. So, I'm thinking, maybe I'll be able to drive mine before mid-june... I just can't wait...
    And of course, I asked my salesman to go test drive the orange 1.8L, 5speed... by myself!! You see, I am not a mechanic, but I know enough about cars to be able to tell what's good on a car, what's wrong and what's gonna be my next mod. :shades: Seriously, when you go test drive a car, you should always go by yourself. You can take "all the time you want" to have a look at the car. Nobody to disturb you, to take your attention away from the things you should be able to check when you're by yourself... So, I drove away, test drove the car on highway, curvy roads, city streets, dirt roads... for about 30 minutes. And then I stopped in a parking lot and I listened to the engine, looked under the car, the hood, everywhere! Looking for noises, weakness, things that will fall apart after a couple years. I did find a few little things, but nothing that can't be handled and fixed by the dealership. EX: Look for missing rubber pieces around the doors, the hood and the trunk. These are little things, but it makes a lot of noise when you shut a door and there is one missing. Metal against metal = No good. The car was very quiet, except when you make the engine rev to 6000rpm... but that's normal! The 5speed was never as noisy as the one with the 2.0L with CVT2. Not much road noises. Good stability, good brakes, good suspension. A bit of steer when you accelerate very fast, which could be a problem if you are driving 6 months of the year in winter conditions and you don't have a lot of driving experience. ;) When you are test driving a car by yourself, you can listen to the car without the radio on, with the radio on, windows up, down, etc. I really think it's important to do all those things. That way, you are making sure that you will like the car. An other thing, some car reviews on the Caliber are saying that the 5speed isn't "smooth", it's hard to shift and needs some refinements. I think it's not bad at all, and if you really know how to drive standards, you should know that every new transmission needs a little bit of time to break in and that at a certain engine rev, it's easier to shift. Once I got use to the feel of the 5speed manual transmission of the Caliber, I loved it... and it was very smooth, and fast!!! :)
  • caliberchiccaliberchic Posts: 402
    THANK YOU! for sharing that. We ordered the 5 speed too and only test drove the automatic. Probably a bit risky since we both felt the car we drove had some engine "problems" which is probably the noise from the pulley system but I digress...

    I am glad someone drove the car we ordered and found it to be a good choice! I hope we get ours soon, this Thurs is 6 weeks..
  • Hi caliberchic! Which trim are you getting? What's your location and how much are you paying for it? Did you get a good deal?

    I can't wait to get mine. I've seen 3 or 4 Calibers so far while driving around and they were all from an other province!! It's getting pretty warm and sunny here, I can't wait to take mine for a drive... but I'll need to get it first... :P
  • :mad: :mad: Hello blackcaliber. What City/Town did you see that orange 5 - speed in? I'm approaching an 8 week wait for a 1.8 5 - speed. Very frustrating!!!
  • Airdrie, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
This discussion has been closed.