DETROIT -- Dodge's target audience for the 2007 Dodge Caliber will be second-time car buyers.
The Caliber will not go head-to-head with cheap, entry-level models. That marks a change from the Neon, which it replaces.
"Caliber is bigger than your typical small car," Steven Landry, Dodge vice president of marketing and product planning, told Automotive News. "It has a lot of standard features you typically wouldn't find on a small car.
"We are focusing on a demographic of people that it is not their first car. It is probably their second vehicle."
The Caliber, a five-door hatchback, will go on sale in the first quarter of 2006, Landry says.
Dodge is in the final stages of pricing the vehicle, Landry says.
The Caliber likely will be priced around $17,000. The 2005 Neon starts at $14,295, including shipping.
The Caliber will be the first vehicle equipped with the Chrysler group's new generation of 1.8-liter, 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines.
A continuously variable transmission will improve fuel economy over a conventional four-speed automatic, the company says. An AutoStick feature allows manual driving and the simulation of six gears.
The Caliber also will offer electronically controlled all-wheel drive. The system works on demand, driving only the front wheels until power to the rear wheels is needed.
The Caliber's primary domestic competitor is the Pontiac Vibe, and its import rival is the Mazda3, Landry says. College-educated 25-to-35-year olds with an annual household income of $40,000 are the primary target, he says.
Given the Caliber's demographic, the Internet will play a huge role in selling it, Landry says.
"We are going to use the Internet a lot on Caliber, maybe more than any launch we have done," he says.
Consumers who bought a Neon within the last four years and still own the vehicle will be targeted through direct mail.
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