Piston Slap: On a Sunny Day You Can See a Dodge Caliber in Focus

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

A TTAC reader who wishes to remain anonymous writes:

I have to buy a 2nd car to be used mostly in the city with short highway trips, my problem is that I have a budget of $7,500.00 since a car payment is not an option at this time.

Clear title, no accident, reasonable mileage and low maintenance cost are high priority, after 2 weeks of detailed search over the internet, I’m down to three cars that I never thought I would be thinking about: 2007 Ford Focus Sedan, 2007 Nissan Sentra and (believe it or not) a 2007/8 Dodge Caliber. The mileage I have seen on this budget varies from 18,000 up to 45,000 miles. By the way, some cars don’t have power windows, which was a shock for me and almost a deal breaker, however, some of these cars have the best mileage and lowest price.

Any thoughts on which would be the best bet?

Sajeev answers:

Unless someone else makes the payment, a Dodge Caliber meets nobody’s needs. That said, both the Sentra and Focus are but mere shells of their former selves, yet either is a better alternative to the Dodge. I’d look for the car with the most options, most appealing color and the lowest mileage to help sell this ride easily in the future.

Let’s pretend that the Sentra and Focus are equally optioned and both are dressed in a conventional color. Look at the product: the Sentra sports a more modern design, a nicer interior and has none of the negative perceptions of the frequently recalled, first-gen Ford Focus. The Focus is probably more fun to drive with its amazing steering, independent rear suspension and no CVT transaxle option.

I’d drive them both and see which one is a better econobox for low-budget hoonery, and I suspect the Focus fits the bill. But there’s no wrong answer. Except for the Dodge Caliber, that is.

[Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com]

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Bigbadbill Bigbadbill on Nov 04, 2009

    Simple... Buy an orphan GM car (Olds, Saturn, Pontiac) that's a few years old, with low milage and in good shape. And don't spend over 5 Grand....(4 Grand is even better). Drive it around until you tire of it (that's why most people sell cars) and then put it on Craig's list at a fair price. Some poor family or young kid will buy it and get another few years out of it.

  • Theodore Theodore on Nov 04, 2009

    That Mazda5 is a solid choice. Holds a lot of stuff, holds a fair number of people, still reasonably small and not completely boring to drive. Had one as a rental and liked it. I would have held out for a manual model, though... ;-)

  • C-b65792653 I'm starting to wonder about Elon....again!!I see a parallel with Henry Ford who was the wealthiest industrialist at one time. Henry went off on a tangent with the peace ship for WWI, Ford TriMotor, invasive social engineering, etc. Once the economy went bad, the focus fell back to cars. Elon became one of the wealthiest industrialist in the 21st century. Then he went off with the space venture, boring holes in the ground venture, "X" (formerly Twitter), etc, etc, etc. Once Tesla hit a plateau and he realized his EVs were a commodity, he too is focused on his primary money making machine. Yet, I feel Elon is over reacting. Down sizing is the nature of the beast in the auto industry; you can't get around that. But hacking the Super Charger division is like cutting off your own leg. IIRC, GM and Ford were scheduled to sign on to the exclusive Tesla charging format. That would have doubled or tripled his charging opportunity. I wonder what those at the Renaissance Center and the Glass House are thinking now. As alluded to, there's blood in the water and other charging companies will fill the void. I believe other nations have standardized EV charging (EU & China). Elon had the chance to have his charging system as the default in North America. Now, he's dropped the ball. He's lost considerable influence on what the standardized format will eventually be. Tremendous opportunity lost. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
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