2008 Dodge Caliber Interior
Auto writers find that the interior of the 2008 Dodge Caliber includes several well thought-out innovations -- including a chilled beverage holder over the glove box and a removable flashlight in the cargo area -- but is poorly constructed and filled with cheap materials, resulting in the lowest interior score in its class. "Those goodies are major points in the Caliber's favor," explains the, "but the two cars I tested had some uneven fits between interior trim pieces."
Others also speak to the fact that the interior is poorly executed. "Dodge doesn't even pretend that this is an upscale vehicle, and hard plastic is rampant throughout the interior," reports Edmunds. "The Caliber's furnishings are several steps below the norm." U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman points out, "There are a few nice surprises in the Caliber, though. The center armrest slides forward and back to accommodate drivers of different sizes. There's the funky beverage holder atop the glove box." Other thoughtful innovations include reclining rear seats on SXT and R/T models and lighted cupholders.
The Caliber's seats win praise from reviewers. "Higher-than-average ground clearance means the seat cushions have a raised hip point, which facilitates easy entry and exit," notes Motor Trend. Automobile.com finds that "the front seats offered high levels of support," while Cars.com points out that "there's no high-chair feeling as in the Vibe and Matrix, in which the clutch pedal is pressed down as much as forward." Drivers might be frustrated by the lack of a telescoping steering wheel.
Automobile.com writes that "the rear seats are pretty comfortable too, with firm but forgiving cushions and a decent level of lower back support. There is plenty of room for my legs and feet, ample for the hips and shoulders." U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman finds that "the back seat handles kids nicely (better than it handles adults), with twin cupholders and seats that recline for naps. As a hatchback, the Caliber is particularly practical for handling kids and related gear. The 60/40 folding rear seats, for instance, let you haul some bulky items with room left for a child." On SXT and R/T models, the rear seats can be reclined.
Though the base SE model is treated as the basic trim, two-thirds of the Calibers that Dodge plans to manufacture will be more upscale SXT models. "The SE is a base model in every sense of the word," says Edmunds. It includes a simple four-speaker AM/FM/CD player, and manual windows, locks and mirrors. Its rear seats do not recline and its front passenger seat does not fold. SXT models add air conditioning, power doors, locks and mirrors, folding and reclining rear seats, driver's seat height adjustment, reclining 60/40 split rear seats, folding passenger's seat, keyless entry, auxiliary power outlet and removable flashlight. Both the R/T and Sport Package for the SXT add seat inserts that match the color of the car's body, and a body-colored shifter bezel. Many options, such as leather seating, navigation and stereo upgrades, are available only on SXT, R/T, and SRT4 models.
Stereo and Entertainment
The 2008 Caliber includes a very basic stereo with an MP3 input jack as standard equipment, but "can be upgraded to an outrageously non-entry-level audiophile stereo," says Automobile.com. The base stereo itself can be replaced with an in-dash six-disc CD changer, though note that this option deletes the auxiliary MP3 jack.
A premium sound group includes a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics system with subwoofer, and Chrysler's unique MusicGate speakers. These swing down from the open hatch, broadcasting the stereo's sound outside the car. "Even if you never flip down the MusicGate that pops out of the rear liftgate, you'll still get a decent system," says Edmunds. "But we really like the flip-down speaker feature -- it's both novel and useful. Even if you step a few yards from the car, the music still sounds good and has more than enough volume to liven up any tailgate party or beach BBQ."
The cargo areas of the 2008 Caliber are generally well-regarded. The rear cargo area provides 18.5 cubic feet of space, which increases to 48 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded. In terms of capacity, that is fairly average for small hatchbacks. However, "The standard split-folding rear seats are among the easiest to lay flat in the segment, with just a tug of a mesh-fabric loop," observes Automobile.com, "and the front passenger seat flips forward too, as long as you don't have a base SE model."
The floor of the cargo area is covered with a plastic panel that can be removed for easy cleaning. "Why, then, are the back surfaces of the rear seats upholstered in a mouse-fur-like carpet that'll soil easily?" wonders Motor Trend. Edmunds mentions another thoughtful feature: "A snap-out LED flashlight that latches into a charger built into the rear hatch interior lamp housing was universally praised."
The Caliber's glove box is a cargo area of its own. Cars.com explains, "though it's not lockable, the glove compartment has a few tricks: There are separate upper and lower sections, each with its own door. The bottom section has both a storage bin and a shelf that -- in all but the SE trim level -- can serve as the optional Chill Zone beverage cooler." The cooler works even when the heat is on in the passenger cabin.