Dodge Caliber SXT 2010 Review

October 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In our highly competitive world sometimes you have to be that little bit different just to get noticed. Carmakers worked this out a while back and have recently given the automotive world some unique and progressive designs. This holds especially true in the hatchback segment where radical styling has almost become the norm. So how exactly does a new car cultivate a unique appeal in these diverse times? To get the answers, Car and SUV spent a week with the updated 2010 Dodge Caliber because it still looks like no other vehicle on NZ roads.

What makes the Caliber aesthetically different is a mixture of traditional Dodge DNA and a body shape that’s a mash-up of hatchback, crossover and sports coupe. Its styling talks loudly and offers a truly American take on the conventional hatchback. The Caliber announces its arrival with its signature Dodge crosshair grille. In profile it shows off pumped up wheel arches, a coupe like roofline and a front foot, pouncing stance. The squared-off rear features jeweled tail lamps a narrow back windscreen and a protruding chunky bumper.  Exterior changes to the updated Caliber are minimal but do include some subtle chrome trim and a new 17-inch alloy wheel design which helps give the 2010 model an even sharper edge.

Step inside the Caliber and the unique styling continues with a fully refreshed interior design. The instrument panel, centre console storage bin and door panel trims have all been redesigned using higher quality materials. The result is a cabin that is more modern and user-friendly. There are some nice touches like chromed surrounds for the instruments and air vents and smart LED lighting which illuminates the cupholders. The hot rod red plastic inserts in the centre control stack may not appeal to all tastes but it provides another unique feature and matches up with the stain-resistant red/black cloth used on the seats. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good to grip and has audio controls at your fingertips. Continue reading “Dodge Caliber SXT 2010 Review” »

Dodge Journey SXT 2010 Review

September 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Is your home full of family members and pets but your bank account isn’t packed full of cash? If you answered yes, then read on because the Dodge Journey SXT may be the family hauler for you. The 2010 model year has brought some small updates for the American SUV and being priced just below the $40k mark it’s ready to continue forcing itself into the consciousness of thrifty kiwi buyers. Car and SUV played mum for a week in the Journey to find out if it had the durability and versatility demanded by New Zealand families.

From the outside the Journey’s styling and proportions are striking but difficult to define. It looks like a cross between an SUV and a people mover with a chunky face surrounded by pumped up sheetmetal. There’s a definite road-focus to the styling and its relatively low ride height and colour-coded body kit make no promises of any off-road credentials. Out front there’s the chrome Dodge signature grille with the Ram’s head logo stamped in, quad halogen headlights and fog lamps mounted in the square-jaw front bumper.  In profile the Journey shows off a large glasshouse, and pushed-out wheel arches that house 17-inch alloy wheels in base-model SXT form. The rear design is a touch softer boasting jeweled four-piece taillights and a lightweight single panel lift-gate with integrated roof spoiler. While the overall design isn’t as polarizing as the Nitro or Chrysler 300C the Journey is a handsome machine and looks more expensive than its price tag suggests.

Continue reading “Dodge Journey SXT 2010 Review” »

Dodge Avenger SXT 2007 Review

October 26th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Dodge Avenger SXT 2007 s

Avenger is a pretty cool name. It sounds like the moniker that would be given to a muscled black guy in a long trench coat and shades who acts as a vigilante on the mean streets of LA, seeking retribution¦looking moody¦kicking ass.

But that’s not the Dodge Avenger. It more just negotiates in a friendly way with bad guys, ruffles their hair a little bit and sends them on their way. It is a comfortable family-sized four-door sedan/saloon with hints of coupe in the styling, and some enormous shoulders above the rear wheels that have to carry this brawny image.

Equipped with two-tone leather seats, the inside of the Avenger’s interior looks stylish. Its interior appointments are excellent for a car in this class and price range. A heating/cooling cup holder, driver and passenger seat heaters that would melt an iceberg, plenty of storage, a trip computer, easy-to-read instrumentation and a fully telescopic adjustable steering wheel makes for a relaxed drive.

This ‘relaxation unfortunately extends through to the engine. It doesn’t ‘avenge’ in the power department, with a 2.4-litre mill that does not unleash fury on the tarmac like a car called the Avenger should. Converting the power to the road is a four-speed automatic that also features a sequential shift with Dodge’s unusual left/right action for changing up and down.

If you are content to cruise comfortably, the Avenger is perfect — handling is not too firm, and it’s not like a quivering, cowardly weakling either. Disk brakes all around hide behind 18-inch alloys shod in 215/55 rubber that haul the Avenger to a stop smartly. You could easily go to 19- or 20-inch wheels which would fill the Avenger’s arches out better. Unusually angled styling on the front bumper would be better matched to larger wheels as it makes the Avenger look like it’s travelling on suspension that needs lowering a couple of inches.

Multi-stage airbags — front, side and curtain — coupled with ESP, ABS and a collapsible steering column protect occupants in the event of an accident.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Avenger is the optional MyGIG multimedia infotainment system which includes a DVD player and 20Gb hard drive. Mated to a six-speaker Boston Acoustics system, the 276W amp is more than adequate to cause tinnitus. You can upload songs from your portable music player or computer via a USB. MyGIG will play MP3/WMA-format files, and there’s an auxiliary in for your iPod. The MyGIG panel is a large (just under 7-inches diagonal) 16:9 touch-sensitive screen that encompasses all the audio functions, from changing the radio station to uploading a photo to display with your music. While the car is stationary it’s possible to watch DVDs on the screen. So, I cracked open The Who’s ‘The Kids Are Alright’ widescreen edition double DVD. Chapter 37 on disk one is a studio session of ‘Who Are You.’ And that sums up the Dodge Avenger. After all this talk of how friendly and plush the Avenger is for the money, should it be called the Dodge Appeaser? Yes: it’s a comfy car that is easy to make friends with, but for kicking ass, the engine doesn’t quite cut it. Who are you? I really wanna know.

Price: from $38,990 ($33,990 for SE version)

What we like

  • MyGIG stereo (optional) is cool
  • Large boot
  • Passenger comfort

What we don’t like

  • Wrong engine for this car — nowhere near enough power, and not the right sound
  • Stereo over bassy
  • Small rear window means you’ll most likely want the optional Parksense reversing sensors
  • Optimistic fuel consumption figures (8.9l/100km)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham