Home » Dodge’s ‘Chill Zone’ Beverage Compartment Was Actually Genius, Even If It Sometimes Functioned As An Explosion Chamber

Dodge’s ‘Chill Zone’ Beverage Compartment Was Actually Genius, Even If It Sometimes Functioned As An Explosion Chamber

Caliber Cooler Glovebox Ts
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Humans love a good gimmick. From the rotating gauge cluster in the McLaren 720S to the available shag-pile dashtop merkin in the third-generation Nissan Cube, delightful gimmicks add a little fun to cars, and Dodge’s Chill Zone added some delight to cars that so desperately needed it. Dodge isn’t the first automaker to put a beverage chiller in a car, but its specific implementation was gloriously simple and cost-effective. It brought a slice of luxury to the drab grey era of material cost management, and even if it only did an okay job of keeping cans cool, okay is a hell of a lot better than nothing.

Making its debut on the 2007 Dodge Caliber, the original Chill Zone was a contoured compartment inside the glovebox specifically designed to hold four 12-ounce cans or 20-ounce bottles. Further inside the dashboard, a duct picked up air from ahead of the heater core and delivered it to the Chill Zone, so with the air-con on and the level for Chill Zone ventilation flicked to the on position, four sodas of your choosing would stay reasonably cool, even on a long road trip.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Keep in mind, this isn’t a fridge. It’s just a cheap and uncomplicated way of using the air conditioning to keep your drinks cooler than they would be in the cupholders, a low-cost idea that works well enough to merit its implementation.

2008 Dodge Avenger R/t

Soon after appearing on the Caliber, the Chill Zone spread across a good chunk of the Dodge lineup, including the Avenger midsize sedan and the Journey crossover utility vehicle. Like in the Caliber, it still used the A/C to keep drinks from getting too hot, so it definitely wasn’t a fridge. Still, it worked well enough to keep owners who don’t live on the surface of the sun happy, with positive testimonials easily found across the forums.

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Dodge Caliber Chill Zone Testimonial 1

This guy on Caliber Forumz (yep, 2007 was a time) gets it. It’s just a neat little feature that works well enough and sparks joy. Likewise, the forum poster below gets it, in that the Chill Zone is better than the alternative.

Dodge Caliber Chill Zone Forum Post

Chill Zone Manual

Mind you, user operation played a huge role in the feature’s effectiveness, and users can be forgetful. Obviously, the Chill Zone won’t keep cold drinks cold-ish without the car running, and if you leave a can of pop in the compartment for several hot, sunny days, you might have a mess on your hands, as a few owners on the Dodge Journey Forum have found out.

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Dodge Journey Chill Zone Can Explosion

Thankfully, the liner of the Chill Zone is removable and washable, but the jump scare of a can bursting isn’t exactly something you want to experience at 70 mph. Isn’t thermal expansion fun?

Unfortunately, the Chill Zone wasn’t to last. Soon after the formation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, initiative was taken to make Chrysler interiors not feel completely awful. Starting in 2010 for the 2011 model year, the Chill Zone was out in favor of plastics that didn’t feel bargain basement. While everyone appreciated the improvements in interior materials, the disappearance of the Chill Zone was a shame. Sure, it wasn’t the greatest way of keeping drinks cool, but it was better than nothing, and better than nothing at a ridiculously low cost counts for something.

(Photo credits: Dodge, Caliber Forumz, Dodge Journey Forum)

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Sean Hannay
Sean Hannay
26 days ago

My dad owned an ‘88 BMW M6 that had a similar feature in the center console between the rear seats, except that the A/C on that car was a mere suggestion, so the cans were about as cold as if you held them out the window in your hand for a few miles.

Steve Harris
Steve Harris
10 days ago
Reply to  Sean Hannay

I had that same thing in an 08 330i. Worked great in that car, really miss the feature.

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