Usually, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That's not the case with the Dodge Caliber. Take a look at the equipment list of our fully optioned test car, and you'll find almost all of the modern features that today's buyers expect: a sunroof, leather seats, a remote starting system, satellite radio, a 30-gig hard drive to store thousands of songs, an iPod connection, and a nav system. You also get a 158-hp four-cylinder engine mated to an optional continuously variable transmission (a 5-speed manual is standard).
With all of the above, however, the Caliber is not very satisfying to drive. Straight-line acceleration is no more than adequate, and any sort of aggressive driving will not be rewarded. As Rusty observed, it feels like you're driving a much bigger vehicle than the "small station wagon" the government classifies it as. It's high center of gravity, high beltline, and generally clunky styling make it seems more like an SUV than the company's only product that could conceivably carry the "small car" banner.
Having said that, its SUV-ness gives it a decent amount of cargo space behind the front seats to haul things, and the cars higher ride height gives the driver a decent field of vision in heavy traffic.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor