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2012 Dodge Caliber

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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
7.3
Out of 10

Based on 728 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
    7.8/10
    Styling
    8.0/10

Pretty grateful for this car

By on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 197,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great price. Low engine maintenance needs."

Cons: "Lower front control arms changed multiple times."

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

"I bought this car with 46 miles on it in 2007. I've been the only owner and have been very stingy about who I let use it beside myself. It was base model with standard engine. I can't complain. It's not a fussy car, and the upkeep has been pretty easy. Only reason I wouldn't buy another is because where I live the terrain wears out my lower front control arms fast. I've had to replace them almost every year these last few years. I'm not against others buying this, but I would advise to be aware of this issue if you live in an area that would be hard on your axles. I still drive the car and plan to give it to my son this coming year when he gets his license. It a good car to grow with."

versatile, reliable, cheap thrills

By on Friday, August 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "versatile, cheap to maintain, reliable"

Cons: "CVT transmission, low quality interior"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I've had my sxt caliber with 2.0L and CVT for 120k miles and counting. This car has been reliable, cheap to run/maintain and is very versatile. I regularly get 30+ mpg. With rear seats down, I can fit plywood, a desk and even a full size wood pallet nearly flat on the floor (not all at once). It's very easy to keep clean and has required only minor unscheduled maintenance. Ball joints and tie rods needed replacing after 60k miles and a wheel speed sensor replaced at 100k. The interior is cheap, yet comfortable and functional and easy to keep clean. While the CVT is a smooth transmission, it does put a damper on performance. A 5 speed stick may be more fun with the 2.0L. I absolutely love this car. Sure, it's cheap but it just keeps going, like a tough little donkey."

Fun car to drive. Very versatile. Good MPG

By on Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000

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

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

"This is a fun car to drive. Very versatile. I loved the hatch back feature and the fact that the back seats lay forward for those big Costco runs. Seating is comfortable. Great gas mileage."

Pretty Good for the costs

By on Thursday, July 16, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 162,000

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
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "good car for the price"

Cons: "hard to clean console"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I bought this vehicle in 2006, I've had minimal issues. For what the car is, it drives well, excels well, the a/c is great and I love the folding seats as I bring my 2 dogs everywhere I go. Although when I bought it I lived in Va, the heated seats have been used here in SC too. I really can't find anything to complain about. It's been a good car for the money. I would buy another."

7 people out of 13 found this review helpful

GOOD GET-AROUND CAR

By on Monday, July 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"hAVE HAD NO REPAIRS DONE FOR SIX YEARS, BUT I DO HAVE LOW MILEAGE. IS DEPENDABLE FOR ME..LOUD ROAD NOISE WHICH ICAN HANDLE.."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

I love this car!

By on Monday, June 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 108,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "good gas milage, reliable, lots of room for size"

Cons: "low power, poor finish on interior door handles."

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

"The only reasons I didn't rate the car higher is my husband complains it is a "dead-head" - not sure what he expected with a 1.9 lt. engine, and the interior door handles are very poor quality. The "chrome" covering began to peel and was exceedingly sharp. Cut me more than once. Otherwise, I love this car. It is perfect for my small family. I love that I can get an extra large dog crate in the back and still have room for my son. The 60/40 seat split is one of my favorite features."

9 people out of 17 found this review helpful

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