Flash Drive: 2009 Dodge Caliber SRT4
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2012.
By Staff of MSN Autos
The Dodge Caliber certainly stands out in a crowd. This edgy-looking crossover is compact, yet tall like an SUV to provide good driver visibility. Somewhat sheeplike in standard form, the Caliber should turn into a wolf with the SRT treatment, which includes the addition of a turbocharged 2.4-liter engine, 19-inch rims and a race-inspired interior. While this idea might look good on paper, unfortunately it did not translate on the road. The engine is said to develop 285 horsepower through the front wheels, but certainly didn't feel like it. And when the car was pushed, the limitations were quickly exposed. This engine should be hooked up to the AWD Caliber to take full advantage of the power. Nevertheless, this car is useful because it can fit two adults or three kids comfortably in the back seat and gets decent gas mileage. By forgoing the SRT4 engine, this car makes a lot of sense as an affordable people mover. -Joe Chulick
The Dodge Caliber SRT4 is horrible. It's ugly, has an uncomfortable and upright interior, and doesn't feel like it has nearly the power it's rated for. The G-meter mounted near the A-pillar is a joke in a car that is so top-heavy and that has 19-inch wheels more for show than for performance. Even more style over substance can be found in the front seats, where somehow Dodge has managed to create "sport seats" with side bolsters so hard and large that they bang your elbows much more than they manage to hold you in place. Virtually everything about this car appears to have been created by someone on his very first day as a grown-up, and then left untested at every stage of development. Ugh! I wish Dodge would bring back the awesome Neon ACR instead. - Paul Hagger
For those looking for lots of horsepower for their dollar, the Caliber SRT4 may be just the ticket. It's got 285 horsepower — that's 140 more horses than a base model - and with a slick 6-speed manual transmission the least-expensive SRT model is plenty quick. And just so everyone around you knows it's something special, the SRT4 gets stylish sport seats, low profile tires, big 19-inch alloys, side skirting and air intakes in the hood. Our tester's Sunburst Orange color didn't hurt, either. The SRT may be a great performance value, but in the "you get what you pay for" department, the doors sound tinny and interior trim feels cheap: Resting my arm on the hard plastic armrest was actually painful. The ride is extremely stiff — my wife and daughter were complaining about the "bumpy ride" after just a few blocks — and with all those horses going through the front wheels, it can be tough to get the power to the ground smoothly. But with a base price around $25K and fuel economy in the mid 20s, the Caliber SRT4 will satisfy any boy (or girl) racer. -Perry Stern