2012 Dodge Caliber Review

Reviewers weren’t very impressed with the 2012 Dodge Caliber, citing a lackluster engine, a noisy powertrain and poor fuel economy.

Pros & Cons

  • Simple dashboard controls
  • Noisy, underpowered engine
  • Dull handling
  • Poor safety score for the class

New for 2012

  • Simplified model lineup (SE, SXT and SXT Plus)
  • Updated available CVT
  • Final model year of production




Critics' Rating: 5.8
Performance: 6.0
Interior: 6.7
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.5
Safety: 7.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Dodge Caliber Overview

Most test drivers said the 2012 Dodge Caliber’s four-cylinder engine is loud and could use more power, adding that acceleration is slow and there’s barely enough power for highway passing or merging. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available. Test drivers said the CVT exacerbates the engine’s drone and saps its power. With a manual transmission, the Caliber gets up to an EPA-estimated 24/32 mpg city/highway, which is poor for a small car. Test drivers said the Caliber isn’t very agile, and that there’s more body lean in turns than they would have liked. Additionally, some added that the ride can feel harsh at times.

Some reviewers said the 2012 Caliber’s mostly plastic cabin is appropriate for the class, while others thought that the Caliber should have higher-quality materials. Most agreed that head- and legroom are adequate in both the front and back, though some noted that the back seat’s high seating position feels unnatural in a small car. Test drivers agreed that the climate and audio controls are easy to reach and simple to use, and they noted that the Caliber has some unique features, including a standard cooling glove box. Also standard are a four-speaker audio system with a CD player, an auxiliary input, a Uconnect hands-free calling system, Bluetooth, a USB port, remote keyless entry and power door locks and windows. Available features include a Boston Acoustics premium sound system with a touch-screen display, navigation and heated front seats.

Other Cars to Consider

The Subaru Impreza was completely redesigned for 2012 and it comes standard with all-wheel drive. Reviewers said the Impreza delivers composed handling and a comfortable ride, as well as a roomy cabin with high-quality materials.

Test drivers liked the 2012 Hyundai Elantra’s good fuel economy ratings, comfy cabin and upscale amenities like available heated leather seats. The Elantra also has a roomy trunk, and reviewers appreciated its comfortable ride.

Compare the Caliber, Impreza and Elantra »


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