Dodge Caliber:

Blowing Off the Lot – the Hot Sellers

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Since we have identified the vehicles that have the longest days supply, we have been asked to show which vehicles have the shortest days supply. Which vehicles are so hot they just blow off the dealer’s lot? As with the slower moving vehicles where we arbitrarily cut off the days supply at 150 days, here we are using 50 days as the cut off point. The details are shown “below the fold”


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Let's Talk Cars: Dodge Caliber Test Drive, the Nissan Quest and the Mitsubishi "I"

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Welcome to Let’s Talk Cars

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This week on Let’s Talk Cars, it’s all about the test drive. Which is how we’ve been spending our summer vacations. We’ve compiled a slew of new car reviews and walk arounds and test drives, and we’ve got the first three for you this week – the new Dodge Caliber, the controversial Nissan Quest and the not-ready-for-the-American-marketplace Mitsubishi “i”.

First, VehicleVoice correspondent David Barrett takes a bright orange Caliber for a spin, and finds some surprising goodies on the inside.

Next, host Cameron Barrett introduces you to our new review segment, Rev It Up – with 90-seconds on the Nissan Quest, perhaps the most controversial a minivan can get. We review the 2006 Quest just prior to its replacement by the 2007 model with a less controversial interior design.

And finally, the Let’s Talk Cars’ crew got a peek at a car that isn’t even for sale here in the U.S., and will never be. They say big things come in small packages, and if that’s true, the Mitsubishi “i” is defintely the next big thing!

Show Rundown
00:52 The new Dodge Caliber: David Barrett, VehicleVoice contributor
12:01 Nissan Quest: Cameron Barrett, Let’s Talk Cars’ Host
13:57 Mitsubishi “i”: Cameron Barrett, Let’s Talk Cars’ Host


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Jeep Patriot Complements Jeep's Range

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Small Trail-Rated SUV Joins Jeep Lineup in Fall
New York’s Jacob Javits convention center is the backdrop for Jeep’s introduction of a second all-new, additive vehicle for the 2007 model year, as the Patriot is unveiled at the 2006 New York auto show. Come fall 2006, Jeep showrooms will be home to six vehicles, two more than in 2005 and the most in the brand’s history. The Patriot and Compass are additive vehicles for this year and are the first Jeep products derived from a car platform. Compass, introduced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in January, goes on sale this summer. Though the show is still a couple of days away, AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents have been watching the development of the Patriot, and here are our first impressions.

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As Jeep was developing its first car-based SUV, the company evaluated two proposals with different personalities and decided to go for both. The Patriot’s job is to meet the demands of entry-level Jeep enthusiasts and intenders and give them a less-expensive way to put the legendary brand in their driveway, while the Compass is supposed to bring in more conquest buyers at an early point in their purchasing lives. Pricing for Patriot will be lower than Wrangler and likely similar to Compass, we expect. The Compass launches with a price range from just under $16,000 to just under $22,000, including destination. The top Patriot adds more off-road ability than the Compass, so this model may top out at a higher price point than Compass. Patriot is going for owners from their early 20s to early 40s. Jeep sees Patriot buyers as “confident, independent, rugged individuals who like the outdoors.” Presumably, Compass buyers are just as confident and independent, though perhaps less rugged or interested in the outdoors.
In the expansion of the Jeep brand, one can see the atomization of the market itself; buyers can find just the right SUV to meet their needs. Need a rugged off-roader? Take Wrangler. Need more space than Patriot or Compass and nicer on-road manners than Wrangler? Take Liberty. Need a mid-size, premium SUV? Take Grand Cherokee. Need seats for three more? Take Commander. You can even get a performance-oriented SUV in the Grand Cherokee SRT-8. Now, if you want a cheap Jeep, you can choose between urban style with the ability to handle inclement weather with ease or a traditional package with off-road ability. We’ll find out later this year if the strategy works better at the lower end of the market than it is at the upper end, as Jeep seems to be currently building more Commanders than they can easily sell.


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Goodbye Neon, Hello Dodge Caliber

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Dodge Takes a Chance With a Hatchback. The Caliber is Dodge‘s new compact car entry, going on sale as we write these words. Taking the place of the Neon in Dodge showrooms, the Caliber is offered as a five-door hatchback. Dodge is right on in adopting this new bodystyle; while not a trendsetter in choosing to offer only a five-door hatchback, Dodge is ahead of the curve. Hatchbacks and wagons aren’t poised to overtake sedans in volume, but there is growing demand for vehicles with flexible interiors and these usually take a hatchback silhouette.

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As a hatchback, the Caliber will not see volumes like the Neon (best year, 1996, nearly 140,000 Neons found homes; in 2005 about 113,300 were sold). But success today can be more accurately measured in per-unit profit than in pure volume, and Dodge may find a solid payoff for its risk.
AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents were among the media who got a chance to explore the Caliber up close and take a first spin around the block. Here’s our report.


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Dodge Caliber Adopts Global Development Strategy

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The all new Dodge Caliber is a good example of global cooperation in automotive product development. Caliber overcomes daunting challenges of cross-continent and cross-cultural communications.
Major Participants – Chrysler Group – Mitsubishi – Hyundai – JATCO
The basic platform is from Mitsubishi. Called the GS Platform, the basic parameters were established years ago while DaimlerChrysler was still an equity holder in Mitsubishi Motors. After DCX divested itself of its MMC shares, the contractural relationship with Mitsubishi on the GS platform continued. Over time, Chrysler Group will get numerous GS spin-offs including the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus. Mitsubishi-based platforms will occupy two Chrysler Group plants – Belvidere, Illinois and Sterling Heights, Michigan.
While the basic platform is a Mitsubishi, everything from the floorplan up – meaning the sheetmetal and interior trim is unique to Chrysler.
Wondering if the relationship was cordial or strained after the break-up, Chrysler managers were very complimentary about working with Mitsubishi’s Japanese product development groups.
But that is not the end of the story. That only gets us the basic platform but not the powertrain. This is where the Global Engine Alliance comes in.


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