We purchased the Dodge Caliber after test driving about 5 other cars, including the Saturn Vue, the Chevy HHR, the Dodge Caravan, the Kia Rio and the Ford Xterra.
We chose the Dodge Caliber because we wanted a car that was smaller for gas efficiency, yet still had enough room for the weekend Costco trip, and car seats for 2 children under 5. We have not been dissapointed in this car so far. We have owned it for about 6 months. We have not had a single maintenance issue.
Some of the nicer features of this car include the sporty design which doesn't scream "family car", the gas efficiency, the surprising roominess. The car also has a beverage cooling area, and docking station for IPOD's and cell phones. The car also came standarad with satelitte radio and controls located on the steering wheel, so you don't have to take your eyes off the road.
I am writing this from a woman and a mother's perspective, so I can't speak eloquently about the engine, torque, wheels and other mechanical issues. But our family has found this car to be a very nice addition to our household. I would recommend it to other small families like ours, who want a family car that doesn't cramp our style.