Dodge SRT4: Honey, I shrunk the muscle car

The latest from Chrysler's performance shop makes up in price and power what it lacks in the finer points.

Power play
Dodge Caliber SRT4
Power play
Base price: $26,500
Fuel mileage: 19 mpg city, 27 highway according to new EPA testing method
Power: 2.4 liter, turbo 4-cylinder, 285 horsepower, 6-speed manual transmission
With 285 horsepower coming out of a mere 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine and dropping straight down to the front wheels, the SRT4 actually lives up to a name like "Caliber" and to its fun, life-sized Hot Wheels design.

That's much more than can be said for the car it's based on. The standard Caliber is a performance dud that could at least have been a nice economy car were it not for its low-rent interior.

The SRT4's gutsy performance allows the Caliber's charmingly thuggish personality to shine through and the interior quality to be overlooked.

The new SRT4 doesn't really warrant a solid recommendation, but as long as you know what you're getting into, it might just be your cup of tequila.

Its straightforward selling point is raw horsepower at a price that's thousands less than you'd pay for a Subaru or Mitsubishi with similar output. But, unless something's gone terribly wrong, the latest similarly overpowered models from those companies, being introduced for the U.S. this week, will prove more fun to drive than the SRT4.





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