That’s because the Caliber is a car that manages to blow away the time-worn maxim that small, inexpensive cars are nothing more than basic transportation for folks on a tight budget. Compared to the Dodge Neon it replaces, the new 2007 Caliber represents an entirely different breed of compact car based on fundamentally different assumptions. Instead of viewing the decision to drive a smaller vehicle as a “have-to” imposed by a buyer’s more modest means, Dodge product planners have assumed – and we think rightly so – that there are an awful lot of folks out there who actually prefer to drive compact vehicles because of their livelier driving dynamics, greater fuel economy, better maneuverability, or all three.
Chief among these small car-buying prospects is the much sought after “active lifestyle” consumer who might otherwise be drawn to sport-utility vehicles for their ability to haul a wide variety of outdoor paraphernalia. The 2007 Dodge Caliber meets those buyers’ needs head-on with an immensely practical five-door hatchback design that combines the size and stylish good looks of compact wagons with virtually all the functionality of a small SUV.
In the final measure we came away from our experience with the 2007 Dodge Caliber thinking of it as the equivalent of a BB gun that packs the punch of a .44 Magnum. If those first impressions are correct, the Caliber should have what it takes to make a big bang in the small car world.