After a two-year absence, the SRT4 name returns, this time attached to the Dodge Caliber hatchback instead of the departed Dodge Neon sedan. A powerful four-cylinder engine and a host of speed-oriented features elevate the 2008 Dodge Caliber from mere transportation into a practical performance car with an approachable price.
A number of interior enhancements clearly delineate the 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 from the more pedestrian Caliber trims. Most notable are highly-bolstered front seats that keep occupants in place during spirited driving and feature SRT logos and contrasting red stitching. Adding to the SRT4's custom appearance are a carbon-fiber-pattern shift boot, aluminum pedal pads and a turbo boost gauge. Despite its many performance touches, the 2008 Dodge Caliber remains a practical wagon with good interior space, room for five and fold-down rear seats for hauling lots of cargo.
From nose to tail, the 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 looks like it just stepped out of a "Fast and the Furious" movie. Its imposing face is a hodgepodge of aggressive vents, scoops and black mesh grilles. Sitting behind the Caliber's crosshair grille is a conspicuously light-colored intercooler that cools the air being pumped into the engine and announces to the world that the SRT4 is serious about performance. Other sporty details include a larger rooftop spoiler, four-inch exhaust tip, low front and rear fascias and bold wheel arches filled with big 19-inch wheels.
The promise of exhilarating performance made by the SRT4's exterior isn't empty, as indicated by a 0-60 acceleration time in the low six-second range. Ample power at all speeds makes the 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 a joy to drive whether on the street or on the track. While its acceleration is commendable, perhaps more impressive is the way the Caliber SRT4 handles. The suspension is surprisingly supple for a performance-tuned car, absorbing road imperfections more willingly than one might expect. When the Caliber SRT4 is pushed hard, however, there is plenty of grip, body lean is controlled and steering inputs are met with an immediate reaction from the chassis.
The price of the 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 starts at slightly less than $23,000, which is within a few dollars of the base price for its nearest competitor, the MAZDASPEED3. The SRT4 also competes with the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, although both vehicles feature all-wheel drive and are several thousand dollars more expensive than the front-drive Caliber. To compare the actual transaction prices that consumers are paying, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price. The Caliber SRT4 is expected to have average resale values, holding less of its original value over time than most of its competitors.
Among the 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4's standard features are air conditioning, a six-speed manual transmission, 115-volt power outlet, 19-inch wheels, six-disc CD changer, power windows, power mirrors and keyless entry. Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, front airbags, two-row side curtain airbags and an inflatable knee blocker that helps position the driver so the airbags can work more effectively. Also standard is an electronically-tuned Brake Lock Differential that uses the front brakes to redirect power from a tire that is slipping to the tire with more grip.
Under the Hood
The 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 features a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces a stout 285 horsepower. Many high power front-wheel drive cars suffer from a phenomenon called "torque steer," where the steering wheel pulls to one side or the other under hard acceleration. The front-wheel-drive SRT4 is no exception, requiring a firm grasp of the steering wheel to keep it pointed in the proper direction when the gas pedal is pressed firmly. Power is sent from the engine to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, the only transmission offered for the Caliber SRT4.
2.4-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
285 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
265 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/26
Chrysler's Street Racing and Technology (SRT) tuning division is charged with adding a performance edge to a variety of Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler products. Like Mercedes-Benz's AMG or BMW's M division, an SRT makeover touches on all aspects of the vehicle, including exterior styling, interior treatments, powertrain, brakes and suspension tuning. The 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 benefits from this all-inclusive approach with a top-to-bottom overhaul that turns the typically tame Caliber into a tire-spinning, apex-clipping performance machine. All the while, the SRT4 maintains enough comfort and usability to function as a reasonable daily driver.