Car Shopping Saga

by Natalie P.

January 13, 2007 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy | No Comments

Would the Caliber Cut it?

First, I looked at the Dodge Caliber (and the Jeep Compass – they are essentially the same car with slightly different interior features, and different grill-plates). Now technically, this is about the same size as my current Focus station wagon, but I really liked some of the interior options. Aside from the cheapo plastic look to the interior, the features were really cool – an auxiliary input jack for my ipod, an armrest in the front that has a flip-forward section to HOLD the ipod, and an honest-to-god 110v PLUG outlet (with hidden inverter) in the armrest – not just a cigarette-lighter adapter. In addition, the rear seats fold forward FLAT in a 60/40 combination and also RECLINE, there are TWO cupholders in the back, there is a removable cargo floor that is washable, a standard cargo-cover, the rear lift-gate light is a removable, rechargeable LED flashlight, and if you get A/C, then there is a 6-can COOLER fridge in the front glove compartment! If I wanted to upgrade to the Bose 6-speaker system, then I could get the flip-down boombox style speakers in the liftgate for those tailgate parties that I would NEVER attend. Yee haw.

Unfortunately, it appears that none of the Dodge designers actually DROVE a Standard Transmission version of the damn thing. Yes, I drive a stick. And it will remain that way. I like the gas economy, control, and extra $1000 it gives me to play with additional features. The Caliber has some kind of weird-assed housing UNDER the steering wheel that I kept banging my knee on. And that was with the seat at the lowest setting and the tilt steering wheel at the highest setting! Never-the-less, I took it out on the freeway to see what this 1.8L-engined puppy could do. It seemed like a small engine for a vehicle of that size (3052lbs!) and it WAS. I had the thing floored and couldn’t get it over 130km/h on the freeway between exits. It was a DOG. Unless I went to the R/T model (which had a base price over $20K), I couldn’t get the 2.0L engine in a standard transmission. WTF?

With supposedly 148hp, at 6500 RPM, and 125 lb-ft of torque @ 5200 rpm, just wasn’t enough to get me any kind of passing power when it counted. Combine that with the bruises to my knee, and it felt like trying on a pair of shoes and feeling them pinch the moment you tried to walk in them. I was HIGHLY disappointed.

Next I looked at the Toyota Matrix. (I didn’t look at the Pontiac Vibe, because these are essentially the same car under different covers and names). Again, it had fold-flat, 60-40 rear seats and a washable cargo area. I liked that. Hauling plants from the nursery is messy business and I don’t always have the Element when I get the impulse to buy more bedding plants. The dashboard and instrument panel was average, and with 126 hp @ 6000 rpm and 122 lb.ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm, it felt more powerful and handled better than the Caliber with the same size 1.8L engine – perhaps the almost 400lbs less in curb weight caused the difference. I like the exterior look and styling of the Matrix too, but it lacked all kinds of features I wanted (like an auxiliary input jack for my iPod). Adding things like ABS pushed me into the XR package and over the $20K mark again. Not to mention the 6% lease finance rate! Ouch.

Oh, and no bum-warmer seats, and no traction control available as an option on ANY model of the Matrix. I live in Canada. Winters here are COLD. This bitch is NOT willing to give up her ass-warmer seats.

Read More... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Email This Post Email This Post


Leave a Comment

If you would like to make a comment, please fill out the form below.

Name

Email

Website

Comments

 


Your Ad Here


Allposters.com

Buy fun Heartless BitchStuff and help keep HBI running!

We now Accept

Acceptance Mark