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2012 Dodge Caliber

Overview
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2012 Dodge Caliber Review

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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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2012

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 the Caliber

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).
However, we are fairly confident that most consumers will probably choose the available Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), that offers an Auto Stick "manual-mode" that allows the driver to select any one of six "ratios" and thus hold onto that gearing step if necessary or desired.

MusicGate Speakers
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.

2012 Dodge Caliber Details
Interior

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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.


2.0-liter inline-4
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)

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2012 Dodge Caliber Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
7.2
Out of 10

Based on 700 Ratings for the 2007 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    7.7/10
    Quality
    7.4/10
  • Reliability
    8.0/10
    Performance
    7.5/10
  • Comfort
    7.7/10
    Styling
    8.0/10

great,reliable, adaptable, economical. loud on hy

By on Friday, November 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
3/10

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."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Has been dependable

By on Friday, October 31, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 71,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
6/10

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"

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Just like my Journey - which I love --loved it

By on Sunday, October 26, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,100

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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."

6 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Reliable

By on Friday, October 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 107,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "fairly decent gas mileage"

Cons: "can't think of any"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"I've had this car for a few years now and I've taken it through a lot of highway miles, road trips, and my four year old. It's super reliable, comfortable, and a good ride. The two tone seating looks really nice and interior still feels and looks like a brand new car."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Best 2011 Dodge possible

By on Friday, October 17, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,400

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
1/10
Comfort
Not Rated

Pros: "great gas milage in city 22.5 MPG"

Cons: "none"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Dodge driven carefully by 2 senior. Mostly in Hemet. Oil and filter change every 6 months about every 1400 miles per 6 months. Always parked in our garage. Tires rotated at 8,000 miles. Polished every year. Spare tire never used."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Most Dependable Vehicle Ever! Great Value!

By on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Price, Reliability, Value"

Cons: "Compact....may feel cramped if you are over 220 lb"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car has been nothing but reliable since day one! It starts every time and runs great at 80,000 miles. I've done a minimal amount of maintenance to it and it continues to purr like a kitten. The SXT 2.0 liter engine has plenty of acceleration when I need it and still gets 25mpg. This car has plenty of room inside for people or gear. I was skeptical about buying a Dodge, but am sold now. Overall, it's a great value for the dollar compared to other vehicles in its class."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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