The last of Chrysler Group LLC’s unsuccessful Dodge Caliber finally saw production end this week. The Caliber, a replacement for the Dodge Neon in 2006, has been receiving bad reviews. The Caliber SXT ranked at the far end of the small hatchbacks and wagons list of Consumer Reports’ 2011 annual car issue.
Chrysler sold just around 34,000 Calibers from January to November, down 21% from the same period in 2010. "It's the last of the American bottom-feeder compacts," said analyst Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics LLP. Hall remarked that the Caliber, along with the Chevrolet Cobalt and previous generations of the Ford Focus, was approved because carmakers thought buyers wouldn't know any better.
The Caliber’s windup was decided when Fiat SpA took over Chrysler in 2009 as Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne made it a priority to replace the model.
Caliber will be replaced by the Dodge Dart, based on a platform developed by Alfa Romeo, a Fiat marque. Chrysler will unveil the Dodge Dart in January 2012.
A hatchback that competes in the C-segment, the new Dodge Caliber fuses the functionality, strength, and stance of an SUV and the sporty profile of a coupe. It could be powered by a Euro V-compliant Common-rail Diesel (CRD) engine that could deliver up to 120 kW (163 hp DIN) and 320 Nm (236 lb.-ft.).
This means that, compared to its predecessor, this new CRD powerplant provides 16 percent more power, three percent more torque and 25 percent more towing prowess (1,500 kg). Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, this new diesel engine features aluminum head and pistons and forged steel connecting rods, as well as fourth-generation direct-injection system – making it lighter, more durable and a better performer.
Compared to the previous CRD engine, the new diesel powerplant boasts of 25-percent less vibration and harshness, thanks to the use of dual balance shafts and sound-deadening materials – leading to a more refined and comfortable ride for both the driver and passengers. On the other hand, the new Dodge Caliber could be powered by any of the two World Engine engines (2.0 liter and 2.4 liter) fitted with an intake manifold design with flow control valves as well as a dual Variable-valve Timing (VVT) system, resulting to more power, greater efficiency and a smoother operation.
Compared to the 1.8-liter engine it replaces, the 2.0-liter World Engine develops four percent more power at 115 kW (156 hp DIN) and 13 percent more torque at 190 Nm (140 lb.-ft.). On the other hand, the 2.4-liter World Engine develops up to 125 kW (170 hp DIN) of max output and 220 Nm (162 lb.-ft.) of peak torque. Dodge is set to officially unveil the new Caliber five-door hatchback at the 2009 International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, showing off an interior that has been further refined and made more stylish thanks to premium materials and excellent craftsmanship.
Inside, the new Dodge Caliber comes provided with a newly designed instrument panel that now includes a center storage bin, larger climate controls and extra cubby space. In addition, the interior of the new Dodge Caliber features bright satin silver accents as well as chromed accents on the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) vents, door handles, cluster rings and shift bezel.
Padded soft-touch materials are also found on the door-trim panels and center console with armrest split-lid. Furthermore, the new Dodge Caliber is provided with Uconnect Navigation with voice commands, Chill Zone cooled-beverage storage bin, rechargeable LED flashlight and iPod Control. The Caliber could also be specified with an available MusicGate Power Sound Group that includes two articulating speakers in the liftgate.