This is the Caliber’s swan song. Sometime early next year, the aging Caliber will make way for an all-new, Fiat-based compact car. Chrysler representatives have not confirmed the timing of the new car’s on-sale date, but we do know that it will be during the 2012 calendar year as a 2013 model. The forthcoming model will be based on a platform that will underpin future cars from both Fiat and Chrysler. For now, however, the United States will have to make do with the hoary old Dodge Caliber. The Caliber’s only engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with variable valve timing that produces 158 hp and is mated to a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission. Last year’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder has been dropped from the lineup. The SE comes fairly well equipped, with such features as A/C, power windows and door locks, power heated mirrors, a chilled cupholder, and remote keyless entry. Upgrade to the SXT and you get four-wheel antilock disc brakes (the SE has drums in back), seventeen-inch aluminum wheels, a fold-flat front-passenger seat, and a 60/40-split fold-flat reclining rear seat. Go a step further to the SXT Plus, and you get a sport-tuned suspension, eighteen-inch polished-aluminum wheels, performance tires, and a sport appearance package. The Caliber is not our first choice in this category, as its high center of gravity and generally clunky styling make it seem more like an SUV than a smallish car. However, since it’s going away, there should be lots of room for negotiation.
Trim Levels: SE, SXT, SXT Plus
Body style: Hatchback, 5-passenger
Engine: 2.0L I-4, 158 hp, 141 lb-ft
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, continuously variable
Passenger volume: 95.4 cu ft
Cargo space: (rear seats up/down) 18.5/48.0 cu ft
Calibrations have been made to the continuously variable transmission to improve launch acceleration, make deceleration smoother, improve pedal responsiveness, and reduce engine noise. Electronic stability control is now standard on all Caliber models. A simplified model lineup for 2012 consists of SE, SXT, and SXT Plus models. The 172-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder has been dropped from the Caliber lineup.
Standard safety features include front, side, and side curtain air bags; stability and traction control; a tire-pressure monitoring system; ABS; and hill-start assist.
All: 23-24 mpg city/27-32 mpg highway
- Decent amount of cargo space
- Good field of vision
- Clunky styling
- Low-grade interior
- About to be replaced
Last chance to buy one.
- Ford Focus
- Honda Civic
- Hyundai Elantra
- Toyota Corolla