2010 Dodge Caliber Heat 2.0L from North America
A surprisingly decent economy car
So far, nothing.
I've liked the styling of this car ever since it came out, but never had the courage to buy one because of all the problems Chrysler went through.
I decided to test drive a 2011 a few months back, and was stunned at how decent a car it was. With Chrysler's vast improvements since the Fiat merger, I felt comfortable pulling the trigger on a 2010, and have zero regrets.
It's certainly not going to win any races, but it's a solid choice for somebody who wants something economical and practical, without the jellybean appearance every other economy car has. The car feels solid and substantial. I have the 5-speed manual, and acceleration is quite acceptable. Clutch feel is great... it's the smoothest clutch I've ever used. Shifter is decent... not the best nor worst I've come across. Turn signal stalk is a little cheap feeling though.
The HVAC/radio controls are blissfully straightforward and work well. The seats are comfortable, and the folding rear/front passenger seats make the car quite versatile.
My last car was an '09 Pontiac Vibe GT (aka: Toyota Matrix), which is quite similar to the Caliber. You'd think the Vibe would trump the Caliber in all respects (especially being a GT), but the Caliber actually fares quite well in comparison. The Vibe is faster, but the Caliber is quieter and rides a whole lot smoother. Some controls are nicer in the Vibe, others in the Caliber. Caliber's exterior styling is way better (IMHO). Caliber is also a better value on the used car market.
Some reviewers make a big deal about the outward visibility of the Caliber. Rearward visibility is a problem, but it's the same problem every 5-door hatchback has. Proper use of side-view mirrors negates the issue.
So overall, if the Caliber interests you, you should absolutely take one for test drive. There's nothing inherently wrong with this vehicle. I honestly think that most of the people who dump on the Caliber, are people who rented one for a day 5 years ago, and have never spent any appreciable time driving a 2010 or newer Caliber with the updates Dodge made to it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 14th April, 2012
10th Sep 2020, 14:18
It's now 8+ years since I wrote this review and I'm still driving the Caliber. Our northeast US winters have not been kind to the car... rust has started taking serious hold and I only expect another winter or so from the car before I'll probably need to replace it.
After 100K miles of mostly city driving, repairs/issues over the last 10 years have included:
- Replacement of the clutch and concentric slave cylinder (not unexpected).
- Electronic throttle body - intermittent failure led to weird throttle response.
- Front ball joints replaced (common issue).
- Rear trailing arm bushings and sway bar links replaced (common issue).
- Rust repairs to the rocker panels and rear quarter panel (did this myself).
- Corroded electrical relay (easily bypassed, did it myself).
- Power steering hard lines replaced (due to corrosion-based leak).
Other than that, it's just been regular maintenance... oil changes, coolant change, spark plugs, and brakes (just replaced the rear brakes as well as the original calipers last weekend).
Overall the car's not been Toyota-levels of reliability, but it's also not been nearly as bad as other cars I've owned. I don't regret buying the car one bit and I'll honestly miss it when it's gone.