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Dodge gets on the turbo-diesel bandwagon with its Caliber hatchback/SUV crossover

26 Oct 2007

TAKE one Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI diesel heart, build a distinctively blocky small-car/SUV crossover-style hatchback body around it – making sure there is enough cabin space for four American basketballers – and then devise a platform of adequate dynamic and safety capabilities… and there you have the new Dodge Caliber CRD, a punchy and economical urban runabout with attitude. Of course, with plenty of ups and downs, this car’s story is far more complicated than that, but we did come away liking the CRD diesel considerably more than any other model in the Caliber’s armament.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 September 2008 to 1 August 2010

Previous model

Chrysler PL Neon

Released: September 1999
Ended: July 2002
Family Tree: Caliber

THE Caliber replaces the unloved Neon in the Chrysler Group’s small-car range. The front-wheel drive Neon was launched here in early 1996 as a premium sedan competitor to the likes of the Mazda 323 Protégé, but failed to gain a foothold despite a generous equipment listing and distinctive styling. The second-generation model highlighted here offered considerable refinements over its flimsy predecessor, but Australians simply weren’t interested. Both models – SE and LE – were powered by a 98kW/177Nm 2.0-litre twin-cam four-cylinder engine, paired to either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic gearbox. A four-speed unit replaced the latter in mid 2001. With the Neon seemingly glued to the showroom floor, Chrysler pulled the plug on it here in 2002.

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