Dodge Accessories

Dodge Caliber Accessories

Dodge Caliber Introduction

The Caliber, however, is still relatively new to the world, and even the base version shares many of its Dodge brothers' aggressive design cues. Unfortunately, it's never been entirely clear what the Caliber was supposed to be: a crossover, economy hatch, wagon-lette or what? The SRT-4 doesn't really do much to answer this question, and actually just confounds it more. The Caliber's closest direct competitors would probably be the Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix, although neither of those models can be ordered with anything near the power of the SRT-4. This vehicle is supposed to be, it does stand out in a crowd, especially wearing the Inferno Red color of the test unit. Like other Dodge-branded SRT models, it gets the obligatory hood scoop, along with a pair of rear facing vents in the hood.

The front clip bristles with openings, allowing plenty of airflow through the mesh grille-work to the inter-cooler and radiator. Unlike some sporty vehicles, all the openings in the SRT-4 are fully functional. Evidently the power-train in this little beast generates some major heat that has to be dissipated. Continuing the theme of aggression are the sharp looking 19-inch five-spoke wheels and 225/45R19 tires that fill out the chrome rims from CARiD wells nicely. Thanks to their thin spokes, the bright red painted brake calipers front and rear are clearly visible at all times. Overall the changes to the SRT complement the butch styling of the Caliber quite nicely. The whole issue of the quality of the interior materials on current Chrysler products has been beaten to death here and elsewhere.

Dodge Caliber Body KitSince laying waste to a horse that has already decayed just isn't much fun, we'll just say that the color combination of the darker metallic plastic trim on the console does look better than the brighter trim we've seen on other Calibers. The interior works fine from a functional standpoint with controls readily accessible and a radio where it belongs at the top of the center stack. At first glance there appear to be no redundant controls for the radio on the steering wheel, an impression that turns out to be incorrect. After driving a couple of blocks, I shifted my hands on the wheel and realized that there were two rockers on the back-side of the "nine" and "three" spokes, one for the volume and the other for the tuner. Although they aren't visible, these buttons are as accessible as a pair of paddle shifters.

Compared to the similarly sized Scion xB, the Caliber has narrower pillars and better overall visibility in spite of its low profile greenhouse. Like other modern compact hatchbacks, the seating position is upright with your butt well off the floor. The SRT seats have lateral bolsters aggressive enough to match both the car's styling and powertrain. Given the amount of rubber this car has on the road, these seats will keep you securely planted in front of the steering wheel so you don't have to search for anything against which to brace yourself. The only other significant interior change to the SRT-4 is a boost gauge mounted at the far left end of the dash. The SRT-4 keeps all the standard Dodge Caliber Accessories of the Caliber, including the chill-zone above the glove box that can keep up to four bottles or cans cool on a hot day.

Dodge Caliber RimsThe real key to any of Chrysler's SRT models is the powertrain, and the Caliber SRT-4 is no exception. The 2.4L engine produced by the engine partnership between Chrysler, Hyundai and Mitsubishi has been heavily massaged increasing its power output by almost two-thirds from 172 HP to 285. All that power gets routed to the front wheels only via a six-speed Getrag trans-axle. The problem is the "front wheel" part. While the R/T model has all-wheel-drive available, the SRT just drags its rears like a wounded puppy. We'll be publishing an interview with SRT development supervisor Erich Heuschele soon that contains an explanation of the reasoning behind this. In essence, it comes down to engineering to a price point.

The SRT engineers had a limited budget and a target price and they made the best sporting compact they could within those constraints. Given those limitations, Chrysler actually came up with a decent little car that elicits a smile while traversing twisty roads. There are certainly places, however, where the SRT-4 doesn't shine. Launching the car smoothly can be problematic if you don't want a jack rabbit start every time. The limited low end, off-boost torque combined with the sticky tires on dry pavement means the engine wants to bog if you don't give it enough gas. Applying the right pedal with enough enthusiasm to avoid bogging can land you in the lane to your left thanks to torque steer. The other performance problem traceable to front-wheel drive becomes apparent when you try to accelerate out of a tight corner, especially if the road is wet.