By KBB.com Editors
When it comes to compact cars, Dodge doesn't exactly rule the roost. In fact, Dodge offers only one model, the 2012 Dodge Caliber, with dimensions that cross into mid-size sedan territory, and interior materials and an overall resale value that are arguably lackluster. It's a shame the cost cutters had their way with this one, because on paper the 2012 Caliber hatchback looks like a winner. It provides good use of interior space, has a versatile hatchback design and delivers good fuel economy. There are also a number of attractive features, such as the Chill Zone cooling storage compartment, removable rechargeable flashlight and articulating fold-down rear speaker bar that's perfect for blasting your favorite tunes at a tailgate party. But, the 2012 Dodge Caliber's execution is nowhere near as refined or buttoned down as that of the Mazda Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf or Subaru Impreza wagon.
If you need the fuel economy of small compact car, but the room and versatility of larger wagon, the 2012 Dodge Caliber hatchback has you covered.
If you're looking for a compact wagon with 35-plus MPG and a modern, upscale interior, you might find the 2012 Mazda3 or VW Golf TDI a better fit. If all-wheel drive is a must, the 2012 Subaru Impreza wagon makes a good choice.
For 2012, the Dodge Caliber compact hatchback is offered in three trims: SE, SXT and SXT Plus. More standard equipment is added to the base SE trim, while electronic stability control is made standard on all models.
Driving Impressions While it's clear that the 2012 Dodge Caliber is more practical than performance-oriented, Dodge has still managed to create a car that is fun to drive. In the SXT Plus,...we found the ride and handling above board, although the tepid performance of the 2.0-liter engine made us long for more power. Still, with the 5-speed manual and Sport suspension, the 2012 Dodge Caliber can be considered a worthy opponent to the VW Golf or Nissan Cube, although its performance is a far cry from the impressive Mazda3 hatchback, which features a much more fluid manual transmission, more horsepower and better fuel economy (Skyactiv model).
As part of the 368-watt Boston Acoustics premium audio system, the 2012 Dodge Caliber's rearmost speakers flip down from the open liftgate to project outward for tailgate parties, picnics and other outdoor activities.
CVT2 Auto Stick
While the idea of engineering artificial gearing into the 2012 Dodge Caliber's "gearless" Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) might seem counterproductive, the ability to control the transmission with ultra-responsive manual shifts is very useful.
While we find the 2012 Dodge Caliber hatchback to be rather roomy and versatile, we have a hard time warming up to the dated interior design and hard surfaces that make up the Caliber's cabin. A major overhaul last year brought a bit more refinement, but the Caliber's interior is definitely past its prime. If you're not turned off by its look, there is much to like inside the 2012 Dodge Caliber, from the available fold-flat rear and front-passenger seats, to the standard Chill Zone cooling glove box and available articulating rear speaker bar. Front and rear-seat comfort is fairly respectable, with good rear-seat legroom for taller passengers. Unfortunately, leather seats have been removed from the equipment list, leaving only a choice of cloth or premium sport cloth with color inserts.Exterior
Despite its aging design, the 2012 Dodge Caliber hatchback remains visually appealing, with a tall greenhouse, large fender flares, big headlamp housings and the signature Dodge crosshair grille. Quite a bit a larger than most compact hatchbacks in this class, the 2012 Dodge Caliber hatchback appears almost SUV-like in its stance, yet the big wheel-and-tire combo of the SXT trims hints at a more aggressive driving experience than found with a similarly-priced Nissan Cube or Scion xB.
Along with a 2.0-liter engine and 5-speed manual transmission, a Caliber SE features front and rear side-curtain airbags, inflatable knee blocker, heated side mirrors, 1-year subscription service to Sirius Satellite Radio, cruise control, electronic stability control, keyless entry, 115-volt outlet, air conditioning, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) and power windows, mirrors and door locks. The SXT trim adds 17-inch alloy wheels, CVT automatic transmission, touring suspension, 60/40-split reclining rear seats, tachometer, fog lamps, fold-flat front-passenger seat and a removable rechargeable flashlight. The SXT Plus adds 18-inch wheels, sport suspension and touch-screen audio with a 40GB hard drive.
Most of the 2012 Dodge Caliber hatch's equipment is bundled into packages and includes Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, 368-watt Boston Acoustic sound system with flip-down articulating liftgate speakers, power sunroof, heated front seats and steering-wheel audio controls. The Security Package adds remote start, security alarm, front side-impact airbags, daytime running lights, engine oil cooler and trailer-tow wiring harness.
The 2012 Dodge Caliber hatchback offers only one engine choice: A 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder engine good for 158 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on the SE, while the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is standard on the SXT and available on the SXT Plus. The SE can be ordered only with the manual transmission.
158 horsepower @6,400 rpm
141 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 24/32 (manual), 23/27 (automatic)
By Kar on Friday, January 23, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 91,567overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive yet comfortable."
Cons: "Becareful taking off on wet surface frontwheel."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Dodge Caliber 2008 SE sport, I love the way it drive my next step; I'm looking to put a kit on it how fun that will be. Lastly,they don't make this model no more love the body style an it unique appearance."
By B. Lynn on Monday, December 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,900overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price; reliable."
Cons: "lack of electronics found in pricier cars."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Wanted a cross over vehicle and the Caliber was just the ticket! Just myself and my husband use this vehicle. plenty of cargo space for groceries and shopping trips and the seats come down in back when more space needed. No, it doesn't have all the electronic gizmos and gadgets, but we weren't in the market for all that. We enjoy the radio and good conversation while traveling together. The climate control is great, easy to warm in winter and cool in summer."
10 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By 2011 Dodge Cailber on Thursday, November 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price. Sharp looking car (silver)."
Cons: "Driver's seat unsupportive. Lacks engine power."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Decent gas mileage, compact yet has cargo area for hauling things. I'm not crazy about the engine dynamics and the way it accelerates. At times it feels as if it doesn't have enough get up and go. It's been a great little car and served my needs well. Stylish looking. I down sized from a Durango and miss the supportive seats of the SUV. The passenger and back seats are comfortable and roomy for the average size person. My 6'4" son has a hard time riding in it comfortably."
13 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Chance on Friday, November 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "practical city runabout, reliable, economical,"
Cons: "noise, poor rear seat comfort,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Really liked owning this car since june of 06. Handy size with fold down real seat for camping and other gear. Nice styling, always proud of the looks even as it ages. nice paint quality held up well over years. handles great and cvt is smooth and reliable. good mpg. at about 26. combined. bad Gas cap caused some of the biggest diagnostic bills for engine light. back seat very uncomfortable... flat seat and straight up back rest..even though you can adjust the back rest tilt. poor wind tunnel design ... cannot open back windows driving 30mph without intense oscillating air pressure wave ...enough to hurt your ears. worst feature of a nice little car is the unbearable road noise on the hyway...almost so loud you opt not to have the radio on at hyway speeds..... except on the smoothest of new pavement."
2 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By pekka on Friday, October 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 71,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive and the price was good"
Cons: "ride is not the smoothest and a little noisy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The car is easy to handle and park. It has been very dependable and gets good gas mileage. It has had some brake issues but they were taken care of. All in all we like the vehicle. It is not the quietest car and the ride is not overly smooth but we have enjoyed the car"
6 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By molly on Sunday, October 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good second car"
Cons: "Road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Maneuvers easily - good gas mileage-- Back seat goes down to give very good carrying space. Even length-wise. Back window wipers. Automatic transmission as well as other kind - stick shift."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful