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.
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