Mike Stevens | Dec 27, 2011

Chrysler has sent its ageing Dodge Nitro and Caliber SUVs out to pasture, with the retirement of the latter paving the way for the new Dodge Dart, debuting next month at the Detroit Auto Show.

Both models entered the Dodge line-up under the auspices of former parent Daimler, arriving as simplified softroader alternatives to the more capable Jeep Liberty (Cherokee in Australia) and Patriot.

But while the Jeeps benefited from ongoing upgrades, the Dodge duo quickly began to show its age.

Dwindling sales at home have seen the Caliber falling to just 1202 US sales last month (down from 12,856 sales in May 2008), and the Nitro falling from 7532 US sales in March 2007 to 1661 in November.

Dodge is unlikely to miss either model. There may even be a sigh of relief as the two models disappear from the showroom, replaced by new cars that, in the case of the upcoming Giulietta-based Dart at least, should prove more appealing.

When Dodge Australia depletes its Nitro and Caliber stocks, the brand will be left with just the Journey SUV, recently upgraded with new styling, a higher-quality interior and Chrysler's new 3.6 litre V6 petrol engine.

While the brand's local arm has yet to offer any word on its future line-up, the retirement of the Caliber means we could expect to see the new Dart hit Australian showrooms.

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