NEW FOR 2008:

- Popular Equipment Group packages for SE and SXT
– SRT4 model added
– YES Essentials stain-resistant fabric inserts standard on SXT
– Security Group of security alarm and electronic stability control available on SXT and R/T
– Auto/Stick manual mode included on SXT Sport with optional CVT
– Optional seat-mounted side airbags
– New exterior colours: Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl and Surf Blue Pearl

An all-new model in 2007, the Caliber moves into 2008 virtually unchanged, but with enhancements to its standard or optional features. The big news is the addition of the turbocharged SRT4 model.

Sharing its platform with the Jeep Compass, the Caliber comes with four four-cylinder engines: a 1.8-litre, which comes only with a five-speed manual; a 2.0-litre, strictly with a CVT; a 2.4-litre, with five-speed or CVT; and in the SRT4, a 2.4-litre with turbocharger and intercooler.

Five models are available: the SE, SXT and SXT Sport use the 1.8-litre and can be optioned to the 2.0-litre; the R/T models come only with the 2.4-litre, but while the front-wheel drive R/T bases with the manual and can be optioned to the CVT, the R/T in all-wheel drive comes strictly with the CVT. The SRT4 uses the turbocharged engine with an exclusive six-speed manual transmission.

Features on the SE include 15-inch steel wheels, curtain airbags, front floor console, floor mats, manual locks, manual mirrors, manual windows, cloth seats, 60/40 split flat-folding rear seat, engine immobilizer, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary jack, tilt column, tire pressure monitoring light, variable intermittent wipers and rear washer/wiper.

The SXT adds 17-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, body side mouldings, tachometer, removable and rechargeable flashlight, power locks with keyless entry, power mirrors, 115-volt power outlet, YES Essentials fabric, fold-flat front passenger seat, manual driver’s seat height adjustment, reclining rear 60/40 split flat-folding seat, touring suspension, power windows and "Chill Zone" cooled beverage bin.

The SXT Sport adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, fog lamps, cloth seats with colour-keyed inserts, body-colour grille and colour-keyed instrument panel.

The R/T models build on the SXT and add 18-inch aluminum wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, SIRIUS satellite radio, premium MusicGate stereo with swing-down liftgate speakers, cruise control, sport suspension, performance-tuned suspension, and leather-wrapped wheel with integrated audio controls.

The SRT4 builds on the SXT with 19-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel Bosch disc brakes with red-painted calipers, electronic stability control, ground effects, bright exhaust tip, garage door opener, premium bolstered vinyl and cloth sport seats, chin spoiler, and SRT lowered sport suspension.

Offering the practicality and roominess of a station wagon with a compact footprint, the Caliber is a well-done little hatchback, especially in the 2.0-litre configuration; the 1.8-litre is underpowered, and it’s really only necessary to move up to the 2.4-litre if you want the rest of the R/T package, especially since the four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and ESP can be added to the SXT models. Of course, if you want to go all out, opt for the turbocharged SRT4 model, the successor to the Neon-based SRT road rocket.