Thursday, September 3, 2009

2010 Dodge Caliber interior upgrades

For 2010, Chrysler is improving the Caliber’s worst feature, its interior. After we originally tested our first Caliber, one of our engineers likened it to sitting in an Igloo cooler.

2010 Dodge Caliber Interior

The revised cabin has a new blue backlit instrument cluster, a center stack with a full-color music screen and brushed aluminum surround, and a new, less-angular console with lighted cupholders. While it is difficult to judge the extent of improvements by pictures, the much-improved interior in our tested 2009 Dodge Ram gives us hope.

Last year, Chrysler modestly upgraded the interior of the Caliber’s near-twin, the Jeep Patriot. They also made other improvements that collectively boosted the test score of our 2009 Patriot by 10 points. Even with that considerable increase in score, it falls short of our criteria for recommendation.

As with the Patriot, a new interior won’t solve many of the Caliber’s fundamental problems, such as a noisy engine, annoying continuously variable transmission, and poor visibility. But Chrysler will build Calibers anyway (it just announced it would double production), and some consumers will buy them. At least those customers will ride in a more inviting cabin.

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