2011 Dodge Caliber Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Dodge Caliber was new.


Performance: 6.2

If you’re looking for one of the best-performing hatchbacks or wagons on the market, cross the 2011 Dodge Caliber off your list. The automotive press calls this wagon underpowered, clumsy and pokey. But, if you just need a daily commuter, the Caliber may meet your needs.

  • "Clunky and awkward, the Caliber’s chassis simply doesn’t lend itself to driving fun, as the SRT engineers learned with the late, unlamented SRT4." -- Car and Driver
  • "Road imperfections are well absorbed on the highway, but Caliber is jittery over broken city pavement." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The Dodge Caliber has a standard 2.0-liter four cylinder engine that makes 158 horsepower. You can upgrade to a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. The 2.4-liter engine is more powerful, but the automotive press isn't impressed with its performance. They call it underpowered, unrefined, pokey and listless. Despite such negative reviews, automotive writers admit that the Caliber is fine for daily commutes.

According to the EPA, Calibers with the 2.0-liter engine will get 24/32 mpg city/highway with a manual transmission, while the automatic gets 23/27 mpg. These numbers drop with the 2.4-liter engine. Most drivers will average 23/29 mpg with a five-speed manual transmission and 22/27 mpg with the automatic.

  • "With the 2.0-liter engine, Caliber is pokey even by compact-car standards. Around-town acceleration is barely adequate, and there are next to zero reserves for highway passing and merging. The 2.4-liter engine is the better choice here. Though still not what you'd call quick (despite having 172 horsepower), it's at least sufficient enough for commuter duty." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Acceleration is listless with the base 2.0-liter engine and only slightly improves with the 2.4-liter. Either engine, however, is further hindered when saddled with the CVT." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Critiques of the Caliber’s handling and braking range from adequate to poor. Reviewers who think the Caliber’s performance is acceptable say handling is fine for daily commutes, but shoppers in need of more excitement should shop the competition. At the other end of the spectrum, reviewers say the Caliber drivers like a truck or mid-size SUV, which is not a good thing, especially for such a small vehicle. They also say the Caliber’s brakes aren’t precise, steering is unimpressive and there’s significant body roll.

  • "Caliber handles more like a midsize SUV than a compact car. The steering is dull, body lean in turns is only moderately controlled, and one test model suffered from grabby brakes. A large turning radius adds further frustration." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Caliber's ride quality is generally acceptable, though the sport-tuned suspension in the Heat and Rush models may be too rough for some. Handling, too, is adequate but drivers seeking excitement should look to other hatchbacks or crossovers." -- Edmunds
  • "Its ride and handling fall short of expectations ... plowing through corners as if Dodge had benchmarked a full-size truck." -- Motor Trend
  • "On the highway the Caliber is uncannily stable, even at higher than posted speeds." -- Automobile.com
  • "Its stability is undeniable when compared to a truck, but one feels the car's height when flinging it around corners, especially in the SXT trim level, which has more compliant, touring suspension tuning and a bit more body roll." -- Cars.com

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