The 2012 Dodge Caliber SUV Crossover was expected to enter the market with the same finesse as its popular predecessor, the Dodge Neon. Unfortunately, it hasn't quite yet lived up to those expectations, and it certainly has not been given the benefit of the significant re-engineering enjoyed by other Dodge vehicles. As a result, despite its low price and solid fuel-efficiency, it struggles to compete with other solid choices in this class, such as the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and Ford Focus.
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The 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine produces 148 horsepower, paired up with a five-speed manual transmission, but the 2.0-liter engine bumps you up to 158 horsepower with a continuously variable automatic transmission.. If you opt for the CVT, you can expect to lose gas mileage, as it drops from 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway to only 23 and 27 respectively. The other issue with the CVT transmission is noise; the cabin is significantly louder than what you would expect from a crossover. There is also an R/T available that is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, returning 172 horsepower. The power under the hood would normally be enough to ensure rapid acceleration, as well as easy merging and passing on the highway. However, the Dodge Caliber SUV Crossover is heavier than the competition at 3,012 pounds, making it somewhat sluggish. Brakes are a high point on this model, offering reliable slowing and stopping on command.
The standard safety features on this SUV include active front head restraints, electronic stability control (not offered on the SE trim), sentry key engine immobilizer, post-collision safety system, dusk sensing headlamps, engine immobilizer, child seat anchors, rear door safety locks, whiplash protection system in the front head restraints and several airbags, such as advanced multi-stage front airbags and supplemental side-curtain airbags. Front seat side supplemental airbags are not offered on the SE, but they are an option on the higher grade versions of the Dodge Caliber SUV Crossover. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested the car and gave it a "good" (highest score) for a frontal -offset crash test, however the side-impact crash test scored only a "marginal" (second-to-worst possible ranking). The roof strength was average at "acceptable".
Dodge made a wise decision doing away with the Caliber after this model year. It certainly not a bad vehicle, and the styling is attractive, but it just doesn't bring anything special to the crossover segment.