Since the Dodge Caliber made its debut as a replacement for the Neon sedan back in 2006, much has changed for Chrysler. Then owned by, I mean partnered up with, what is now Daimler AG, Chrysler has since gone through the hands of Cerberus Capital Management and bankruptcy to now be partly controlled by Fiat. Moving forward, one thing Chrysler has to do to avoid utter failure is to offer better execution of interior designs including styling, materials and comfort. On the heels of one of Chrysler's most impressive interiors, in the all-new Dodge Ram 1500, Detroit's smallest automaker is now turning its attention to one of the worst vehicle interiors on the market found in the Dodge Caliber. Going up against hatchbacks such as the Mazda MAZDA3, Pontiac Vibe and Nissan Versa, a new interior will definitely help out the 2010 Dodge Caliber.
Not that the Caliber was a bad-looking car outside, but inside it's easy to see why the car was generally relegated to rental car duty. Just looking at the pictures Chrysler released of the new interior, it's easy to see that the layout of the 2010 Caliber is much more upscale than the current offering from the coloring to the overall design. The biggest change inside the car is a revised instrument panel design that replaces flat, hard plastic surfaces with a rounder, more stylish layout including a cockpit-themed gauge cluster and center stack design. Even the switch from light, two-tone plastic on the instrument panel with a tacky faux-aluminum center stack to a darker, monotone hue do wonders for the car's appearance. Dodge now offers a Dark Slate/Medium Graystone interior hue in place of the Pastel Pebble Beige color. In most cars, white-faced instrument gauges give the car a sportier look, but in the Caliber it always made the interior look even cheaper, so Dodge changed the background of the three-pod gauges from white to black and also gave them an improved font.
In addition to a new design with new colors, Chrysler also claims that it will be upgrading all the materials found inside the entry-level hatchback giving it more soft-touch surfaces instead of grainy, hard plastic. Softer materials with extra padding are now used on the door panels and the front center console armrest that adds an extra storage compartment. As for the materials used on the instrument panel, we'll have to wait to see whether or not it is also uses soft-touch materials like the Ram. Even the layout of the instrument panel has changed dramatically eliminating the storage bin above the glove box which was done to give the overall shape a less boxy design. A smaller storage compartment is now mounted above the center stack, but the lower glove box still offers the Chill Zoneâ„¢ beverage holder. Finishing off the interior changes for the 2010 Dodge Caliber, all models will now come standard with active front passenger head restraints for added safety.
Available in four trim levels (SE, SXT, R/T and SRT4), all Caliber models continue to use engines derived from the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA), which is a joint venture between Chrysler, Hyundai and Mitsubishi that may be ending soon. Despite the engines and transmission choices staying the same, EPA fuel economy estimates will change from the base 2009 Caliber's 24 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway to 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway for the 2010 model year.
Exterior changes for 2010 are limited to a pair of new colors and new 18-inch polished wheels as part of the Sport Appearance package (available on the Caliber SXT). This package also gives the 2010 Caliber SXT the same performance-tuned suspension and steering response that is available on the Caliber R/T. As for exterior colors, the Surf Blue Metallic hue available on the 2009 is replaced by Optic Green Metallic (shown in pictures) for 2010.
While the domestic engine lineup will stay the same, international Dodge Caliber models will come with an all-new 2.2-liter common-rail diesel (CRD). The new engine, replacing a Volkswagen-sourced diesel in previous European Calibers, improves horsepower, torque, fuel economy and towing while reducing harmful CO2 emissions. With 163 horsepower, 236 lb-ft of torque and an estimated 40 miles per gallon, the 2010 Dodge Caliber CRD would be a welcomed addition to the lineup here in the U.S. Pricing for the 2010 Dodge Caliber hasn't been announced yet.