NEW FOR 2009:

– R/T FWD, R/T AWD and SXT Sport "E" models discontinued
– New SXT Sport Plus option package
– SXT adds standard anti-lock brakes, soft tonneau cover, and body-colour mouldings and door handles
– New optional Convenience Group on SE adds cruise control, Sirius satellite radio and body-colour mouldings
– Cruise control becomes stand-alone option on SXT
– Sirius Satellite Radio Group adds UConnect hands-free connectivity, and leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls
– 17-inch Aluminum Wheel Group adds fog lamps
– MyGIG entertainment system (without navigation) optional on SXT
– Popular Equipment Group and Trailer Tow Group packages discontinued
– SRT4 adds performance information screen to cluster display; new optional Security Group and Leather Interior Package
– Exterior colours: Deep Water Blue and Light Sandstone added; Steel Blue and Light Khaki discontinued

For 2009, the Dodge Caliber undergoes several changes, the most notable being a reduction in the number of available models and the discontinuation of an all-wheel drive model. The new Sport SXT Plus package, at $1,725, combines several features from the discontinued models, including 18-inch chrome-clad wheels with performance tires, body-colour grille and fascias, Sirius satellite radio, sport suspension, fog lamps, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, performance steering, chrome body-side molding and cruise control.

The Caliber is available with a choice of three engines: a 1.8-litre four-cylinder with five-speed manual in the SE and SXT; an optional 2.0-litre four-cylinder with CVT in both models; and in the SRT4, a 2.4-litre four-cylinder with turbocharger and intercooler, mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission.

Features on the SE include 15-inch steel wheels, floor mats, electroluminescent gauges, cloth bucket seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, CD stereo with auxiliary input, liftgate-mounted spoiler, tilt column, tire pressure monitoring light, variable intermittent wipers, and rear washer/wiper.

The SXT adds 17-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, Chill Zone beverage storage bin, assist handles, illuminated entry, tachometer, cargo lamp with removable LED flashlight, power locks with keyless entry, power mirrors, 115-volt power outlet, Stain Repel seat fabric, manual driver’s height adjustment, fold-flat front passenger seat, reclining rear seats, touring suspension, tonneau cover, and power windows.

The SRT4 adds 19-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel Bosch disc brakes with red-painted calipers, electronic stability and traction control, premium MusicGate stereo with swing-down liftgate speakers, cruise control, SRT lowered performance-tuned suspension, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, garage door opener, chin spoiler, and premium bolstered vinyl and cloth sport seats.

Practical and with the roominess of a station wagon with a compact footprint, the Caliber downsizes its offerings and now moves strictly to front-wheel drive. The 1.8-litre is underpowered, and most buyers will prefer to opt for the 2.0-litre; unusually, you don’t have to automatically move up to the next trim level to get it, and some buyers will appreciate its punchier performance with a base level of features, especially those who want the Caliber strictly for utilitarian purposes. For those who want some fun, though, the turbocharged SRT4 is a rocket with a reasonable price.

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