Caliber Signals the Return of Dodge


Dodge Caliber

18th August, 2006

Dodge will attempt, with its return to Australia, to again secure a place in the nation's automotive industry by releasing the Dodge Caliber. Priced from $23,990 (RRP), the new hatch will do battle in the booming small to mid-sized car market.

The Dodge Caliber, a five-door hatch that combines an odd-looking profile, is the first of a raft of all-new vehicles from Dodge which will arrive, locally, over the next two years.

Dodge, the world’s eighth largest brand in the automotive industry, is the Chrysler Group’s best selling global brand and will be sold alongside Jeep and Chrysler in Australia.

With the Dodge Caliber the Group hopes to emulate the success it has enjoyed with the Chrysler 300C, capitalising on a perceived appetite for bold, American designed vehicles that stand out from the crowd.

“We are very excited to unleash the first Dodge into the marketplace,” said Gerry Jenkins, managing director, Chrysler Group Australia.

“Dodge is very unique – it is bold and in your face, edgy, unapologetically American and street smart– it is for those with a real zest for life."

“Sporting these characteristics the Dodge Caliber is far from your typical car – powerful styling, high value and utility, this crossover is pure Dodge!"

“Caliber brings emotion to this segment. And with fuel efficient cars booming in Australia, Dodge Caliber is hitting the streets at the perfect time,” said Jenkins.

Available with a range of fuel efficient four cylinder engines, Caliber’s sheer surface treatment commands attention and sports the face of Dodge, a distinctive crosshair grille at the front end.

Offered in four models - ST, SX, SXT and R/T - Caliber boasts a comprehensive list of standard features including: dual front and side-curtain air bags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, keyless entry with Sentry Key® engine immobiliser, security alarm, central locking, air-conditioning, CD stereo, tilt steering wheel, driver one-touch power windows, power folding heated exterior mirrors and 60/40 split rear seats that fold flat.

Testifying to the Caliber’s clever design, the all-new vehicle has also received the highest rating for side and frontal-impact crash protection with a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Unique features available on the Caliber further differentiate the product from the offerings currently in the market place. These fun features include MusicGate Power®, a 458 watt nine-speaker Boston Acoustics premium sound system with subwoofer that includes two articulating speakers packaged in the liftgate, Chill Zone® (standard) - a cooled beverage storage bin that can hold up to four standard bottles or cans and a dual-purpose self-recharging removable flashlight (standard), mounted in the headliner of the vehicle.

“Our research tells us that customers are tired of the bland offerings,” said Jenkins. “The Caliber will appeal to owners looking for a car that stands out from the crowd, a car with attitude that gives them the flexibility to do more in terms of seating friends and storing gear”.

Two petrol engines are available from launch, a 1.8-litre (110 kW) and a 2.0-litre (115 kW) four cylinder engine. A more powerful 2.4-litre petrol engine (127 kW) and a state-of-the-art 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine (103 kW) will be available late in the year.

The entry Caliber ST model is offered with the 1.8-litre petrol or 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine and comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels along with the comprehensive list of standard features.

The Caliber SX, available with the 1.8-litre or 2.0-litre petrol engines or the 2.0-litre turbo diesel, builds upon the ST model adding more standard equipment including: 60/40 split rear seats that both fold flat and recline (up to 12 degrees), a fold-flat front passenger seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, manual driver’s seat height adjuster, cargo cover and six disc CD changer.

Moving up to the Dodge Caliber SXT, also available with the 1.8-litre or 2.0-litre petrol engines or the 2.0-litre turbo diesel, the model comprises additional standard features over the SX including leather seats, heated front seats, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, bright silver instrument bezels and switches, body-colour bodyside mouldings, chrome grille crosshairs, front fog lamps and 17-inch alloy wheels with five-spoke design.

The Caliber R/T model will arrive later in 2006 with the higher-powered, normally aspirated 2.4-litre petrol engine.

Dodge Caliber comes in a range of colours; Inferno Red, Sunburst Orange, Marine Blue, Steel Blue Metallic, Bright Silver Metallic, Black, Stone White, Light Khaki (late availability) and Solar Yellow (limited availability).

Customers can take delivery of the Dodge Caliber through an extensive network of Chrysler Group dealerships around the country.

Dodge Caliber

Dodge Caliber prices (RRP):

Caliber ST 1.8L Manual $23,990
Caliber SX 1.8L Manual $25,990
Caliber SX 2.0L CVT $28,490
Caliber SXT 1.8L Manual $27,490
Caliber SXT 2.0L CVT $29,990

Prices for the 2.4-litre petrol and 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engines will be announced when they are launched in late 2006.

Ortions (all models)

Premium Paint $ 300
Applies to all colours except for Black and Stone White

SXT only:
Power Sunroof $1,980
Sport & Sound Value Pack (1) No cost option
18 x 7.0" Aluminium Chrome Wheels (2) $ 490
9 Speaker Premium Sound Group (3) $1,075
(1) Consists of 18" x 7.0" aluminium wheels, 9 speaker Premium Sound Group, Sport Appearance Interior Group consists of cloth seats with colour keyed insert, instrument panel colour keyed, colour keyed PRNDL bezel, black out tape.
Sport & Sound Value Pack replaces the Leather Interior Group. Leather Interior Group consists of leather upholstery , heated front seats, manual driver lumber adjust, steering wheel audio controls, leather wrapped steering wheel.
(2) Can only be ordered with Sport & Sound Value Pack, thus is an optional upgrade to the alloy wheel within this pack.
(3) No cost when part of Sport & Sound Value Pack
Consists of 6 Boston Acoustics speakers, two articulating liftgate speakers, leather wrapped steering wheel, steering wheel audio controls.

Dodge Caliber

“Pure Dodge” design

“With its bold styling and clever packaging, Caliber is pure Dodge,” said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President – Design.

There is no mistaking Dodge Caliber. The all-new car has Dodge’s imprint stamped into its DNA from the grille to the tailpipe. The signature crosshair grille gives Caliber the distinct face of Dodge and defines its front view.

Strong, sculpted guard forms, broad shoulders and a distinctive bonnet give the Dodge Caliber its proud, powerful stance. Large, precisely styled headlamps and available fog lamps complement the Dodge grille and provide an integrated look that completes Caliber’s sporty appearance.

A black graphic design accent, which runs the length of the roof, melds into an integrated rear roof spoiler. Unique glass-to-body proportions give the Dodge Caliber a tough, protective presence and the forward sweep of the tailgate further emphasises Caliber’s sporty profile.

The rear view of the Dodge Caliber is as distinctive and powerful as the front. The black roof spoiler with integrated centre high-mounted stop lamp and large modular, crystal-like taillamps that fill Caliber’s rear corners, provide distinct focal points of the car’s rear view design. Dodge’s Caliber’s rear liftgate provides easy access to the vehicle’s spacious interior.

Fun features and flexibility

Customer demand for a vehicle with a lot of interior flexibility and utility had a big influence on Dodge Caliber’s interior, which provides comfortable seating for the driver and up to four passengers, plus room for gear.

“Dodge Caliber’s spacious interior is also very versatile,” said Matt Liddane, Chief Engineer – Dodge Caliber. “We combined style and comfort with innovative features and clever packaging to create a vehicle that gives new meaning to functionality in this segment of the market.”

Dodge Caliber is full of clever interior features, including:
- MusicGate Power™. An optional 458-watt nine-speaker Boston Acoustics premium sound system with subwoofer and two articulating speakers packaged in the liftgate. When the liftgate is open, the speakers can swing down to face rearward and play music to augment outdoor activities
- A dual-purpose self-recharging removable flashlight is mounted in the headliner above the cargo area and can snap out of the bezel to serve as a flashlight
- Chill Zone™: A cooled beverage storage bin can hold up to four standard bottles or cans
- A floor console sliding armrest moves forward 76 mm to accommodate shorter drivers. The armrest lid includes a unique flip pocket for storing a mobile phone or an MP3 player
- Illuminated front cup holder rings glow blue-green to match other centre stack lighting
- Front passenger seat folds forward to provide a table-like surface for versatility (SX, SXT and R/T models)
- 60/40 split rear seats both fold flat (ST) and recline (SX, SXT and R/T models)
- A vinyl load floor in the rear cargo area is both washable and removable

World-class engineering

The Dodge Caliber features innovative new engines and transaxles to deliver world-class performance, fuel economy and refinement, no matter where the road leads.

“Circling the globe for best practices enabled our engineers to develop an entirely new front-wheel-drive,” said Larry Lyons, Vice President – Front-wheel-drive Product Team. “We targeted things consumers want most and developed a vehicle with an all-new global powertrain that addresses these priorities by providing excellent fuel economy, reliability, performance and value.”

Dodge Caliber’s powertrain and drive systems offer many Chrysler Group firsts. Caliber is the first Chrysler Group vehicle to offer the full range of four-cylinder engines with variable valve timing and a second-generation Continuously Variable Transaxle (CVT).

For the three petrol engine offerings (1.8-litre, 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre) for the Dodge Caliber, Chrysler Group engineers met aggressive performance and fuel economy targets through advanced cylinder head port and intake manifold design. Technologies in the Chrysler Group four-cylinder engines include dual Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and an intake manifold design with flow control valves. Combined, these features produce more power, better fuel economy and smoother, quieter operation than engines without them.

Dodge Caliber’s CVT has been calibrated for pleasing engine response, precise ratio control and Auto Stick feature that allows for manual control with the simulation of six stepped gears. CVT contributes to a fuel economy improvement of 6-8 per cent compared with a traditional automatic transaxle.

A 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine will also be available in Australia late 2006. It is a direct-injection power unit with high-pressure fuel injection, a variable geometry turbocharger and four valves per cylinder.

Dodge product offensive in Australia

The Dodge Nitro mid-sized SUV will be the second Dodge to arrive in Australia. It's due in mid 2007.

“With aggresive styling and available features like 20-inch alloys and performance suspension, the Dodge Nitro delivers that little something mid-size four-wheel drive buyers are still searching for – attitude,” said Jenkins.

“But Dodge isn’t just about Caliber and Nitro, it’s much more than that. We have an aggressive product plan over the next few years and the brand will continue to grow."

“While we can’t confirm any other products at this stage, we can tell you that a new vehicle will arrive approximately every six months for the next two years – all with the same bold, powerful styling and all built for customers who want to express themselves differently,” said Jenkins.

With the arrival of Dodge in 2006 the Chrysler Group expects total sales for its three brands to increase by 20 per cent to new heights of 9,000 units.

This is a significant increase considering the company already lifted sales by 13 per cent in 2005 to a record 7,500 units.

In 2007, with better availability of Dodge products, the company plans to further increase sales to over 10,000 units.

Built for global appeal

Dodge Caliber will be available in nearly 100 countries globally, which led designers and engineers to consider global market demands when developing this all-new vehicle.

In addition to its global powertrain, Dodge Caliber meets safety, feature and convenience standards in markets around the world. Caliber’s manual and automatic transaxle shifters are packaged in the centre stack instead of the floor console, which is more common in global markets. The Caliber’s transaxles also have been designed to provide excellent shift quality and shift effort.

Dodge Caliber production

Production of the Dodge Caliber began in early 2006 at the newly refurbished Belvidere, Illinois, assembly plant in USA. The new four-cylinder petrol engines for this vehicle are built in the state-of-the-art Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) assembly plant in Dundee, Michigan (USA).

About the Dodge brand

The Dodge brand is built on a heritage spanning 90 years, making it the second oldest brand in the DaimlerChrysler stable.

Dodge sold more than 1.4 million vehicles worldwide in 2005. With a U.S. market share of seven per cent, Dodge is the fifth-largest nameplate in the United States, the eighth-largest nameplate in the automotive industry worldwide and is expanding to volume markets outside of North America with the international launch of the Dodge Caliber.

Dodge Heritage

In 1900, two mechanically minded brothers, John and Horace Dodge, sold their bicycle-building business and moved into making car parts.

By 1914 their first car, the Dodge Brothers Touring Car, or ‘Old Betsy’, rolled off their production line. By 1916 Dodge was the fourth bestselling brand in the US, however, in 1920, both brothers died from a flu that they caught at a motor show. Walter P. Chrysler bought the company in 1928. And Dodge has continued its production of groundbreaking automobiles, such as the Viper SRT-10, ever since.

Dodge in Australia

1915: The first official imports of Dodge to Australia began in Adelaide. They were brought in by Cheney Motor Car Company limited and sold from a showroom in King William Street. Soon thereafter local assembly began by principal builder of Chrysler and Dodge vehicles in Australia, TJ Richards and Sons. Some bodies were imported as components to Australia, others were made here.

1937: The various independent Australian distributors of Dodge and Chrysler vehicles got together and bought a controlling interest in TJ Richards. The company was as a result renamed Richards Industries.

1941: During World War 2, the Dodge/Chrysler assembly lines were used to build parts for the Australian war effort.

1947: The Company’s name was changed to Chrysler Dodge DeSoto Distributors Ltd.

1951: Chrysler Dodge De Soto Distributors made an agreement with the Chrysler Corporation of Detroit to develop a major programme to manufacture complete motor vehicles in Australia. Chrysler Australia Limited was formed as a result.

1960-1972: The Dodge Phoenix was assembled by Chrysler Australia.

1976: The last Dodge Ute was assembled by Chrysler Australia.

2006: The Dodge Caliber leads the return of the brand to Australia.

About the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA)

The family of four-cylinder engines produced by GEMA in Dundee, Michigan (USA), deliver a combination of quality, fuel efficiency, refinement and performance. GEMA is owned equally by DaimlerChrysler, Hyundai Motor Company and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. By optimising the three joint venture partners’ strengths, global economies of scale and the latest practices in flexible teams and machines, GEMA aims to set a new benchmark in engine plant productivity.

Dodge Caliber

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