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 Daniel on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Underated and efficient"
Cons: "Plastic parts wear out."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I purchased my 2009 caliber with 69k miles in Feb. 2013. I've put on it already 30K miles and I've no issues at all. Of course I service it every 3K miles and it has payed off. Good gas mileage ~28 mpg. I use it to commute to work and I enjoy it very much. There is good space also in the back sit for my daughter's car sit. Overall I've been impressed with the caliber's performance, comfort and efficiency."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By mrs w on Monday, July 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 122,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "headrest very uncomfortable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"i have owned this car since new. I have my routine oil changes and check ups. it may not be the fanciest car I have owned, but the most reliable! I am thinking of trading but still LOVE it. good looking, great on the highway, fast and steady."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By RICHARD on Friday, July 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "GAS MILAGE ONLY"
Cons: "EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST BAD!!!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"GOT CAR AT 38K MILES. DO NOT PURCHASE THIS CAR UNLESS ITS BRAND NEW THEN SELL IMMEDIATELY ONCE IT HITS 50K!!! ELECTRONICS: 1 FRONT HEADLIGHT HOUSING AND BOTH REAR LIGHT HOUSINGS STARTING LEAKING AT 43K AND WILL TAKE ATLEAST $1,000+ TO FIX ALL 3, WINDSHIELD WASHER FLUID PUMP WENT OUT AT 45K, ALARM SYSTEM AND HORN AT 45K(OF COURSE THESE CARS DO NOT HAVE A 15 CENT FUSE; IF HORN FAILS, DEALERSHIP IS REQUIRED TO CHANGE THE COMPUTER)DEALERSHIP SAID IF ITS COMPUTER THEN IT IS ANOTHER $1200 AND WANTS $150 JUST TO FIND THE PROBLEM, NOT FIX IT. ABS AND CRUISE CONTROL AT 6OK. NOW THE SPEED ODOMETER IS STICKING WHEN IT RAINS. FRONT PASSENGER TIRE HAD 6OZ OF WEIGHT DUE TO DEALERSHIP HIDING A FLAW IN THE TIRE. IT IS ILLEGAL TO HAVE MORE THAN 4OZ ON A COMMERCIAL VEHICLE TIRE. ONLY ISSUED ME AN APOPOGY FOR THIS. THERE IS MORE BUT THIS SHOULD KEEP YOU AWAY FROM THESE VEHICLES."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By dodge99 on Monday, June 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "lots of room, good in winter, good on gas,"
Cons: "no running lights"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought my 2012 dodge caliber in late July of 2013, originally meant to replace my 2001 Durango. The car has had no problems at all since purchased, very reliable. i love the design of the seats, there really comfortable on your back. the rear seats fold down and so does the front passenger, easily fits myself and two others along with our skis and gear. The factory audio system is excellent!! very crisp sounding speakers, and absolutely killer bass. the 2.0 liter in my caliber does great on gas. easily 25mpg city and 32mpg highway. The beverage cooler in the glove box is also very handy, in the summer it does as a great chill zone to keep some drinks, and in the winter it can do as extra storage. its also fantastic in the winter, with the very "peppy" 2.0 liter. i love the car!! its great! and i cannot believe the sound system, its amazing!!"
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By nick on Tuesday, June 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 141,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This little buggy has taken me through all of whatever weather ND oilfields have had to offer. Very reliable and a great little 4WD."
8 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Jay on Friday, June 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Cons: "gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"this car drives and handles very well. I will say the struts are noisy when the car is cold in the morning. Gas mileage is poor..I average only 22mpg combined and about 26 on the highway... I expected closer to 30mpg"
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful