Click for Full Story: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/driving/story.html?id=dfd3c7a5-84fb-4250-88a5-8ae8615774c8We regularly read car reviews from professional auto journalists, but what do Sun readers think of the cars they test? Michael Browne and his partner, Marianne Gilbert, are both environmental scientists and marine biologists who scuba dive, snowboard, ski and camp -- just the kind of young people DaimlerChrysler hopes will like its new Dodge Caliber hatchback. To test it, Browne and Gilbert took the Caliber on a camping trip to Tofino.
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Aggressive styling, tons of features, great starting price, cool selection of colours and lots of interior space immediately attracted us to the 2007 Dodge Caliber.
We had seen the Caliber at the Vancouver International Auto Show back in April and had been curious about it ever since.
So, when the opportunity arose for us to test drive a Caliber for a week, needless to say we were not going to let that opportunity pass us by.
We received the car on a Wednesday and were treated to the SXT version; even though it was not the top of the line R/T, it offered more features and options than we expected, including 17" tires, the Chill Zone beverage cooler in the glove box and the MusicGate fold-down speakers on the tailgate.
Our model came equipped with the 2.0 L 158-hp engine, a CVT2 (continuously variable transmission) and just about every power option available. Although we had a somewhat shortened week with the Caliber, which was disappointing (the previous test-driver was late returning it), we decided to base our opinions solely on the performance, features and functionality of the car.
In a market that already has established models in the Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Matrix, Mazda 3, Ford focus and others, how was the Dodge Caliber going to stand out?
Styling definitely was what immediately attracted our attention, but as for the functionality and performance we were ready to see how it fared.
We decided that the hum-drum stop-and-go driving of the GVRD was just not going to cut it for this test drive.
We wanted to give the Caliber a worthy ride, one that would either show off or show up the handling and performance, so we took our inferno red 2007 Caliber to Vancouver Island, where it could show us the way to Tofino.
We picked one of the best roads to see how the Caliber would really perform in everyday situations.
As well, we hauled along a fair amount of gear for camping, hiking and surfing as these are activities that we would be using a car like this to do.
With the lull of the droning ferry engines behind us we hit the coastal roads and highways of the Island. We soon found that Vancouver Island's hilly and twisty roads were no match for the handling and suspension of the Caliber as we barely felt the bumps and the big 17" wheels gripped and pulled us around those bends with nary a squeal.
Quick acceleration, passing or climbing up any substantial hill became a bit more of an issue in time management and judgement. The 2.0 L 158 hp engine felt surprisingly underpowered as we watched many passing situations go by because we knew we just couldn't make it in time
Looks like a good review overall, I'm dissapointed that DCX still can't get the little known problems right (the Chill Zone and Sliding Armrest). Too bad they also had 2 CEL's on their journey, might set people off who are still skeptical of Chrysler's quality. Seems like the two people reviewing it though enjoyed it. I liked how they had the "Expert's Opinion" after the column.