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Caliber Refresh Caliber and Re-introduce

Discussion in 'Compacts: Renegade, Patriot, Compass, Caliber' started by chuckt, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. chuckt

    chuckt Well-Known Member

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    I keep looking at the Caliber (and I do see many of them in Chicago's western burbs) and thinking that it has the right body. Except for Mazda, I do not really see a mfr selling a small hatch style vehicle. Something without all the bells and whistles so as to keep the price low. It really has the correct ground clearance and look of efficiency. My only personal negative was using the CVT versus an automatic.
    Maybe I am old fashioned but I do't need the various electronic doodads but want a reliable, seat comfortably vehicle.
    I do not see a vehicle (except the mini) that is an actual favorite; a vehicle that stays with the family for a long time like a pair of old shoes (My 89 Caravan was one; just a nice reliable van. And the old Datsun B210's wer another; they literally died of old age before many a family would turn them in; Dodge Omnis also seemed to be like labrador retrievers-fun and loyal).
    Yes, I hear people howling that the car was built with budget being first and quality last (tht can be disputed) and the plastic interior was cheap. But, if so, these could be upgraded easily by the mfr but the main theme (the body's main design and drive train) is there.
     
  2. Sir Moses Wellington

    Sir Moses Wellington Well-Known Member

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    It would be too costly to do when plans are already in the pipeline to make new cars off newer, lighter, more ridged and safer platforms. As well as this, it has been out of production for awhile now. It's image is too far gone, right when it came out it was awful, slight improvement only made it acceptable. When you have something on the caliber of a Dart which could possibly be sold as a hatch in the US, with apparently a hatch possibly in the works, it's not going to have that name, or look anytihng like the old Caliber. I am sure of that.
     
  3. chuckt

    chuckt Well-Known Member

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    I am a little selfish but I would only consider a hatch. Since I fly fish, I like the ease of donning the waders and loading the equipment in my GC but it is really built to do bigger jobs around the house. Maybe I should google the Caliber's problems since I may be naive about its reliability. I just like the size and shape of it. I thought Honda's Element backed into any popularity with the older crowd but its aerodynamics lead it to be squirrely on the highways (per owners that I know) and a little harsh in the seating comfort. But the Element came in and filled a niche (although expensive) no other mfr was in.
    "Lighter, safer and more rigid platfrom" I did not think that the Caliber would be suffering in this area. The SWB Caravan could be right in that market.
    Marketing-wise, Chrysler probably looked at all the angles.
     
  4. Sir Moses Wellington

    Sir Moses Wellington Well-Known Member

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    Lighter might be out of place, but safety and effeciency standards go up every year for the most part, and it's hard to keep up. They already have some stuff coming up. Other than the SE Darts, and the Fiat 500, I wouldn't expect anymore no-frills vehicles. The vehicle that fills this neiche effectively is the Fiat 500L, which is to be available in the Summer. I think anyone who bought a Caliber would be at home in that than anything else, and honestly I think it's far nicer all around than the Caliber ever tried to be.
     
  5. ImperialCrown

    ImperialCrown Moderator
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    I am approached by people asking about and interested in what I think about my Caliber. It's too bad that these people weren't around when Chrysler was trying to sell them. Caliber production ended in 11/2011.
    The Patriot was the only only PM/MK that did fairly well and that might have been because it fit the identity of a Jeep better. The Compass is doing better. The Caliber had high hopes at its introduction as it was a crossover that was an up and coming class of economical utility vehicle. But it fell short of its goal. The PM/MK/JS were somewhat Mitsubishi-based. They all pretty-much look the same underneath on a lift. The world-engine is shared by Chrysler/Mitsubishi/Hyundai.
    Yes the 2007-08 had suspension and interior wear/feel issues. The CVT feel didn't agree with a lot of people. It was decontented to save money. The 2009-on was a desireable car, but it was too late by then. There are used car bargains out there.
    I think that Fiat will lead the future of Chrysler's small cars. The 500L will be close to what the Caliber should have been.
    Remember that the Caliber was conceived and introduced during dark days at Chrysler. Daimler had pretty much taken away the promise of cooperation and support. Cerberus had frozen any research and development spending. No funding for improvements that might have saved the car were forthcoming. The name is gone I fear.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Caliber

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_500L
     
  6. chuckt

    chuckt Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, and the Dodge Caravan was conceived in Chrysler's dark days. And Chrysler created a new market and the term "soccer Mom" is linked to it. Dark days has nothing to do with engineering talent and the managment team that will point itin the right direction. Iacoca had Hal Sperlich waiting for him at Chysler.
    It was given a black eye by the sales people too. I went into a Naperville (IL) dealership and almost had to beg the guy to show me those on the lot.
    CVT was a turnoff and still is. Saturn's CVT's are going bad and so are Nissan's (my engineer friend's Nissan just made it past the warranty period). What's the price of a 6 speed (I would settle for a reliable 4 speed) auto vs the CVT? It's only about cost.
    Well, we will see about Fiat but I am not a fan of the 500 now.
    Too bad, I really like the Caliber.
     
  7. Sir Moses Wellington

    Sir Moses Wellington Well-Known Member

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    The period with Diamler was worse, Diamler ran the program and made it as cheap and potentially profitable as it could, not really caring too much for if it was competitive enough to actually sell in volume/what actually sells a car. Back when the minivans and K-cars were designed, they were designed to really be good, but small and fuel effecient cars. They just weren't made that well. However, the Caliber was designed to be cheap from the onset (relatively at least), you can't fix that unless you change up how it is made for a large part of the vehicle. THey did a good job making it competative, but they were too little too late, the name was far gone. It's a shame, it was a good little car for what it was anyway. But it certainly could have been a lot better.
     
  8. ImperialCrown

    ImperialCrown Moderator
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    Engineering's hands were tied by what management dictated. The result was sad. The early '80's minivan days were optimistic in comparison.
    Iacocca made us feel good about 'Made in America' again. The red,white and blue capital 'K' in the rear window made a big difference.
    The Caliber has nice ideas like a removable dome light in the rear that can be used as an LED flashlight. The 3-tier glovebox with a cooler I have never used. The 120v AC outlet in the center console really works. I added dash tweeters.
    With 7 airbags and a robust body structure, the car does well in crash tests. It could be turboed and ordered with AWD.
    It had some rough edges with hard plastic, poor rearward visibility and a noisy ride, but it handles well and can do 38 mpg on the highway and carries a lot more than it looks like from the outside. Like a baby Durango.
    Despite its unserviceability (take the new one out of the box, put the old one back in the box), the CVT may be the most reliable transaxle that Chrysler uses.
     
  9. chuckt

    chuckt Well-Known Member

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    Then it is truly sad. Sad that the talented engineers (I know that they are talented by looking at the minivans and the other products) were not only shackled but psychologically beaten. Being a mechanical engineer with 43 years of designing equipment, I looked at the Caliber and saw the size, the interior layout, the ground clearance relative to other vehicles in its class and said to myself "this thing has the correct ABC's all one needs is to update the interior, put in an automatic, and cure any reliability problems. I saw this as a relaible vehicle that the teenage girl would get for going to college or the "bug" that everybody would hop into and pick up whatever around town yet reliably be used ove the highways. Which is what the Caravan did--a breath of fresh air.
    Read the story of the 73-74 Pontiac Trans Am with the 455 HD. Now you can't touch one without a load of dough. As I read it, GM gave the edict tonix support for racing so they had a group of engineers tied to their special vehicle department--real hot dogs! Well, management had to use them so they gave these guys the marching orders to do the Trans Am. Well, they forgot to tell them to shred their racing clothes and don their corporate clothes. Under rated in horsepower and performance, the car now commands big bucks at any auction. Engineers don't worry about stinkin money when they are designing (if you don't tell them).
    Today's GM tried to shove an Aussie Holden and badge it as a GTO and sell it to old guys like me......no way.
    Sperlich wanted to build the minivan so bad for old man Ford that Ford told Iacocoa (then at Ford) to fire him. Sperlich got hired by Chrysler and the rest is history. Shows one that management doesn't necessarily know where they have their heads.
    Chrysler has the makings of a vehicle of which I only see Mazda doing. They could do it.....again.
     
  10. UN4GTBL

    UN4GTBL Allpar Legacy

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    I had somebody at work ask me yesterday what I thought of my Caliber. She was unaware that they were out of production.

    I told her to look at 2010-2012 Calibers, as they have better interiors, and hopefully better suspension.

    I'd buy a Dart if it was offered in a hatch/liftback configuration AND had a "fast" version
     
  11. chuckt

    chuckt Well-Known Member

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    It's pouring in Chicago's western burbs and we have already had near 5" since yesterday. Many of the roads, in Naperville, are impassable and there is a Toyota and old Mazda sports car sitting in the water at the bottom of our hill. Did I mention that the Caliber, with 18" tires, has more ground clearance?
    Took a look at the Fiat 500L and really not impressed. But that is me and need to see it in person-kick the tires, look under the hood.
     
  12. UN4GTBL

    UN4GTBL Allpar Legacy

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    Agreed, 500L isn't a Caliber replacement.
     
  13. rkmdogs

    rkmdogs Member

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    Try putting a dog crate and 3 people in a Fiat! -- can't be done !!! The Italians shot themselves in the foot when they dropped the Caliber in favor of the 500.--- Now if they would offer the Dart in a hatchback model, that would be another cup of tea!!!!

    The 500L ? --- that is a new way to spell UGLY !
     
  14. chuckt

    chuckt Well-Known Member

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    Since my initial post, I noticed that Jeep has dropped the CVT from their products (it's not in the Compass or the Patriot as available on their web site). And it becomes more evident that thereis a hole in the lineup since the SWB Caravan was discontinued. The Caliber, a medium and sturdy hatch, would fill the gap. Currently, I have only the G Caravan or a walk across the aisle to the Jeeps.
    It's been a louset winter in the Chicago area (as is everywhere else) with more snow than usual. A Caliber-like vehicle with the upgraded trans and, okay, better interior would fit the bill.
     
  15. ImperialCrown

    ImperialCrown Moderator
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    It has been said that the Journey has filled the spot for the SWB Caravan. A current Grand Caravan can't be shortened and it may not be in the plans for the next generation.
    The Journey can be had in 4 or 6 cylinder, FWD or AWD and many trim levels. It is a very versatile utility vehicle.
    The Caliber is smaller and was questionably marketed. This hurt it's identity and it was mostly forgotten by the public and sales dept. on the dealer lots.
    It was sad as the crossover category vehicles were supposed to be hot at the time.
    The Caliber has all the utility of the PT Cruiser in a modern style. The small windows were a step down from the large glass area and visibility in the PT and Neon sedans.
    It has the bulging fenders and other styling elements of a baby HB Durango, if you found those styling themes attractive.
     
  16. chuckt

    chuckt Well-Known Member

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    You may be correct, Imperial. But when I talked to the dealership's salesman about the Journey, he stated that he will sell a Grand Caravan 7 times before he sells the Journey. I think much has to do with pricing since a family is spending quite a sum, what's a little more for the G Caravan. As on my 89, the SWB and LWB were exactly the same from the 2nd row seats and forward. And my wife likes the sloping hood on the Caravan so she can see better. I see many a Caliber in the western suburbs. A nice size to get around town yet has a large and efficient cargo area.
     
  17. chuckt

    chuckt Well-Known Member

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    GM is introducing a small, Korean manufactured, SUV called Trax. Looking at the photos, I know that Chrysler can do better and that the Caliber would be more popular in a heart beat (or another name for it). With increasing vehicle costs and many an unecessary feature, a little Caliber-like, $15,000 SUV could be what would fill this niche.
     
  18. ImperialCrown

    ImperialCrown Moderator
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    I think that Fiat is working on that product class.
    Fiat and Dart sales have been slow.
    Cherokee sales are going strong.
    The 500L and 500X will hopefully garner some acceptance and some sales.
    Trucks are still the #1 in profit but if something bad happens to petroleum supplies or prices, that could all change quickly and the 4-cyl (opt V6?) AWD CSUV class become popular for FCA.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_500L
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_500X
    Neon was the PL body.
    Caliber was the PM body.
    A future PN would be nice.
     
  19. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    Sorry, my opinion of the Caliber has always been that it was fugly. I couldn't wait for it to go away. Consequently, I am no fan of the Fiat 500 (or the mini-Cooper, or any toaster vehicles).
     
    floridaman2013 likes this.
  20. chuckt

    chuckt Well-Known Member

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    If the Caliber is ugly then so are all the small hatches with sloping roofs. At least the Caliber was outfitted with larger wheels; I see so many of the small suv's running around with little ground clearance. If the interior had poor materials and seats, I would not disagree but that can be easily changed. I would take a Caliber (with a regular automatic; not a CVT) than a Fiat 500.
     

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