The Dodge Caliber, the car that was “anything but cute,” will be ending production on November 23, 2011, according to documentation recently sent to dealers. Those who want Redline 2 paint or power express sunroofs can get them starting in October, shortly before the end.
The Caliber was launched in 2006 as a 2007 model, accompanied by official putdowns of the Dodge Neon, which had been so popular in 1994 that many dealers had waiting lists. Early Neons had numerous quality issues, due largely to cost-cutting, though these had been dealt with by 1998; however, it was late to get a four-speed automatic, and endured questionable gearing and styling choices starting in 2000.
While Caliber was to ride the SUV gravy train, many were turned off by its engines, which needed to be revved high for power, and by the tuning of its early CVT (later revised). The interior was later slammed, as well; the interior was restyled in 2010.
Gas mileage and acceleration for the Caliber were both considerably lower than that of stick-shift Neons, though it was competitive with the more popular Neon automatics, and the Caliber was larger than the Neon had been. Numerous features were available or standard, including side airbags, nine-speaker MusicGate sound system with speakers incorporated into the liftgate (for tailgating), a removable flashlight, glowing cupholders, and a beverage cooler. The Caliber was the first Chrysler vehicle to use the World Engines, to have dual variable valve timing, and to have electromagnetically controlled all wheel drive (with variable torque output).
Sales of the Caliber and the similar Jeep Compass have never reached expectations, though the Jeep Patriot, based on the same architecture and platform, has achieved some critical and sales success.
A new Dodge compact is expected to appear during calendar-year 2012. This car will have a choice of turbocharged Fiat 1.4, the existing 2.0 four, and the 2.4 liter four — possibly in Tiger Shark form. The CVT will likely be dropped for a choice between a stick-shift, conventional automatic, and Fiat automated-manual transmission. (Thanks, MooseEater, for the tip.)
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