2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 Review

Much needed steering adjustments help out runt of SRT litter

2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 Review

FAST FACTS

1.

Performance display measures G-forces and quarter-mile times

2.

285 hp and six-speed manual

3.

Mopar performance packages

Short for Street and Racing Technology, SRT badges are worn by several high-performance Chrysler models, including the Viper, Charger, 300 and, of course, the all-new Challenger. Oh, and don’t forget the runt of the litter, the Caliber SRT4?

TURBO FOUR PUMPS OUT A WHOPPING 285 HP!

Based on architecture co-developed with Mitsubishi, the 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 is a seriously pumped-up version of the otherwise mundane car. Up 55 ponies from the previous Neon-based SRT4 (’03-05), the 16-valve DOHC global powerplant with VVT pumps up to 285 hp and 265 ft-lbs of torque (available above 5700 rpm) through a Getrag six-speed manual transmission.

It might not have racing stripes or a big Hemi engine, but this four-door front-wheel-drive hatchback gets it done with a peppy and efficient 2.4L turbocharged and intercooled inline-four. It also offers lots of interior cargo space and pretty decent fuel economy, which the EPA rates at 19/27 mpg (city/highway). I averaged a hair under 23 mpg combined during a week-long 280-mile test.

BIG BRAKES, PLUS HANDLING AND WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION MUCH IMPROVED

Having previously driven an R/T AWD model with second-gen CVT, this SRT4-specific six-speed is more performance-oriented and exceeded my expectations in terms of smoothness. SRT4 models also get the same gargantuan electronic-assisted anti-lock disc brakes that Charger police cars get, so stopping is not an issue.

The 2008 SRT4 got the steering adjustments the last one so desperately needed. Its rack and pinion kit is more sensitive and more accurate, especially at slow speeds. SRT’s choice to keep the steering lightweight and tactile, however, comes at the expense of a limited-slip differential, a device that helps transfer torque to both drive wheels simultaneously and helps out in performance driving situations. Instead, the SRT4 employs an electronic brake differential-type system that makes good use of those big ABS stoppers by applying pressure to counteract wheel slippage and torque steer in corners and hard starts. Driven sensibly in normal situations and you’ll barely notice it. Kick it up a notch and you will feel some slight tugs at the steering wheel. And, when you’re finally ready to enjoy all the tire smokin’ goodness that SRT models boast, the electronic nannies can be switched off by a button on the dash.

The old SRT4 had a 63 front / 37 rear weight distribution so the newer version offers better balance with a 59/41 split. The updated MacPherson suspension is also a big improvement over the previous model. Granted, the SRT4 is not as quick and nimble through a slalom course as, say, a Mazdaspeed3 or Mini Cooper S. That’s not to say it’s not fun to drive, it’s just a bit trickier and you need to be smooth.

HATCH MAKES IT A PRACTICAL PERFORMER

The SRT lineup does a great job being rewarding for drivers, but the Caliber SRT4 goes even further by offering a level of practicality at a price point that active buyers will appreciate.

Inside the tall hatch are numerous Caliber standards like multi-stage front, side curtain and window curtain airbags, air conditioning, power mirrors, windows and locks, solar control glass, AM/FM/6CD/MP3 stereo, glove box with cooling zone, 60/40 rear folding seats and more.

Options on the vehicle I drove included SRT option group II, which includes a 115V power outlet, tire pressure monitors, hands-free communication, a universal garage door opener and a soft tonneau cover for the cargo area.

Painted 19-inch alloys with 225/45R Goodyear all-seasons come standard. My tester wore the optional polished aluminum 19×7.5-inch SRT wheels and summer performance tires.

PLUS

Six-speed manual Massive 19-inch wheels with big brakes Fast but also functional

MINUS

No limited slip differential Not as nimble as the competition Still a cheap interior

PERFORMANCE DISPLAY FEATURE

Unique features of the SRT4 include a turbo boost gauge and upgraded speedo. Another noteworthy feature is the neat-o performance display that’s integrated into the instrument cluster and shows current acceleration, braking, G-forces, eighth- and quarter-mile times and more. The interior is a bit plasticky, but the plush leather-trimmed SRT seats are unbelievably comfortable.

Mopar also makes parts for the Caliber too. Items like a stiffer front strut tower brace, air intake, headers, exhaust and a striking body kit are some of the factory-engineered customization options that currently exist.

THE VERDICT

Did I mention the 2008 SRT4 is a bargain? The 2009 model truly stands out on crowded streets and in busy parking lots. Despite a few small flaws, I still really enjoy this car. It’s fast and functional – something other SRTs don’t or can’t offer – and less pricey than most of its direct import competitors. Its size and shape definitely give this five-door an edge. Yet, I can’t help wanting for an SRT4 in all-wheel drive.

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked