I bought this car for my wife to have and to use on long trips and it is very comfortable and convenient. Dodge really packed the space into this seemingly cramped car. Back seat leg room is more than you'd expect due to the curve of the front chairs and the trunk looks small, but we have never needed more space even with a car load full of people and their luggage. There are tons of compartments, most notable the tri-fold glove compartment with 3 sections, one of which is cooled by the air conditioner. This is a great place for storing drinks and snacks. Also, for a factory set, the stereo is awesome. It's louder than my stereo with 8" subs and a 500 watt amp.
This car was definitely not my first choice, but at the time I was still in college and dad pretty much decided for me. But I'm so glad we went with the Caliber! Yes, it lacks many of the bells and whistles of a more expensive car/brand. It doesn't have heated seats, or a fancy interior. But my major repairs have been few and far between (and by major i mean nothing totalling over $300). This car is 7 years old and is still going like a champ! It's been so good to me and in turn i've been good to it. I'm constantly surprised by how well it's held up over all this time considering it doesn't have the best reputation. The Pros, in my opinion: Cruise control is an awesome plus. It also hasn't required many major repairs. I don't consider it a very noisy car, and the sound system is pretty good too. My favorite thing about this car is the storage. All the back seats fold forward and i've been amazed at what i've been able to fit in this car! It's only proven to me that I want to continue buying hatchbacks if i can. The couple "complaints" i have are: Lackluster acceleration, feels light enough to fly off the road if i'm going too fast (road holding?), doesn't do all that well in snow (totally fine in rain, though) and like i said, no bells and whistles. The one major repair I had other than the breaks is that the cord(?) connecting my shifter to the transmission broke, so my car wouldn't recognize what gear i was in. That was a $300 repair, and that was this year (so after 7 years). Overall I'm extremely happy with this purchase, especially for the money we paid. I might sell it this year but that's only because i'd like to get at least a little money for it! But if money weren't an issue, i'd continue to drive it until it died.
I purchased this car for my daughter back in 2010. It had about 30K miles on it. She drives 1.5 hours on the highway round trip everyday to school, so I needed good MPG, excellent safety and real reliability. The price was awesome ($10K) and this car has delivered. It has over 90K miles on it and all I've done is change the oil, replace belts/tires/wipers and do brake jobs on a normal maintenance cycle. It has taken her through nasty weather without difficulty and protected her nicely through 2 occasions in which she has been hit by other drivers. For the price, it's been a gem. Update: with over 160K miles I sold it for book value. I am very satisfied with this car and would recommend it to others.
Yes, it has lackluster acceleration, but overall, I LOVE my car!! Perfect size for driving daily to and from work alone, but also, easily fits 4-5 people without too much complaint. Great hauling capability with the fold down seats (although the angle of the back hatch has gotten in my way a time or two). Gas mileage is spectacular, even as it gets older, still holds well! Have had minimal maintenance (other than normal oil changes, new tires, etc.), two months ago was the first time I had to have something fixed, power steering pump lines had a hole and entire pump wasn't working correctly, but $400 later (the most I have spent on any repair or maintenance), brand new pump, and it is driving as good as new!! Acceleration could be better, and it is not a fan of going up in to the Rockies here in Colorado, but overall, I would say this is a great car, has been great for me, and I love it!!
Nothing fancy, but great functionality. Reliable. Good acceleration (2.0). Loves to drive/ride at 75mph on highway -- it glides n sails. Has 93k miles on it. Bought it for $10.5k in December of 2009. Paid for -- resale value $5000 cash (dang good after 7years!). I changed the alternator ($1000- but that was probably because I drove it in salt-water puddles on the beach in Florida) 3 years ago. New tires ($450). Two batteries ($200). Windshield wipers ($25). That's it. Runs like a charm. I'm looking around for a new car, but no rush. Lucky me. Hope I didn't jinx myself.
The Caliber's combo of boost and peaky tire grip means launching it effectively is a bog-or-boil affair. Even identical-rpm launches could produce either result depending on how quickly wide-open throttle is used. Also, the 2-3 shift was sometimes difficult. Front tires nibble like a hedgehog and the whole car zigzags down the strip. The Neon-based SRT-4 was better. Also, pedaling: It didn't work while the tires were spinning -- probably thanks to slow throttle reponse and heavy wheel-tire combo.
The SRT-4's pedal softens somewhat during hard driving, but doesn't ever fade dangerously. Braking distances were relatively consistent over four stops from 60 mph.
Constant meddling from non-defeat ESP produces highly repeatable but lackluster results on the skid pad. Just as the car begins to do all the right things in the slalom, the ESP begins grabbing brakes. Quick transitions and good rotation are not allowed. Steering is rather good, communicative and light. You've got to run it against the ESP to get a quick run -- "less is more" approach doesn't work here.