Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dodge as American as Baseball

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dodge as American as Baseball

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Keenan

The Dodge Caliber aims to be the family car that stands out from the pack ( but won't break the bank to buy. It offers a unique presence on British roads, blatantly turning its back on the normal five-door hatchback design sported by major competitors like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

Instead Dodge ( maker of the legendary Viper and owner of the distinctive ram's-head badge ( offer a car that's as American as baseball, with a look more in keeping with a small SUV.

So the Caliber comes with swollen wheelarches, big alloys and bold headlamps that immediately catch the eye. The rear lamp clusters are the biggest Dodge does on any vehicle, including some massive US pick-ups.

It offers a high stance, but the off-road appearance is a red herring as the power from the two-litre diesel engine is only ferried to the front wheels.

It's not the quietest oil burner I've ever driven but, coupled with the standard six-speed manual gearbox, it does have a lot of get up and go and is a gutsy performer. Fuel consumption is a wallet-relaxing 46mpg.

The ride is pretty smooth and the steering is well balanced, but the tall body tends to roll a bit through bends.

The Caliber is not going to excite those who like their cars on the sporty side ( but it is more than responsive enough to meet the requirements of its target audience ( namely men in their thirties.

The car offers plenty of space for driver and passengers, but unfortunately the boot is a bit small for family needs with all the seats in place.

There are some good ideas on show though, including the double decker glovebox in the front ( air-conditioned to keep chilled drinks cold ( and an armrest that features storage space for an MP3 music player or mobile phone.

But the plastics are cheap-looking and there's little smoothness or refinement about the interior. …

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