Starting at a modest price of $17,380 and topping out at $18,765, the Dodge Caliber is one crossover SUV that will save you loads of money at the dealership, as well as at the pump. The base model, the Dodge Caliber SE, does have a somewhat unappealing front end and, some would say, overall shape. However, this design was created as a means of helping the aerodynamics of the vehicle, and thus increasing overall fuel economy. It also comes with 15” aluminum-alloy wheels. The side mirrors are power adjustable and are heated, to ward off precipitation or fog. For convenience Dodge has included keyless entry technology. The cabin will also light up when the driver enters, making things much easier at night. The SXT Plus ($18,730) and SXT ($18,765) have door handles that are the same color as the body of the car and a cover for the car. The SXT has 17” aluminum-alloy wheels, while the SXT Plus boasts 18” wheels.
Inside the cabin the driver and front passenger will find a power-adjustable seat, as well as power windows. Leather seats are not standard on any model. All models come with a 1-year free trial of Sirius XM satellite radio. While most car manufacturers offer free satellite radio, with purchase of a vehicle, they usually only offer it for 3 or 6 months. Dodge has taken this generosity a step further, by offering a year of Sirius XM radio. The backseat on all three models is a 60/40 folding seat. This allows for a maximum cargo capacity of 48 cubic feet, when not carrying a full load of passengers. This is one of the most common gripes from the test drivers; the lack of adequate cargo space. Filtered air will relieve the allergies of those of us who are particularly sensitive to them.
Under the hood of the SE, SXT Plus and SXT is a 2.0-liter Dual Overhead Camshaft inline 4 engine, with 158 ponies and the ability to obtain 32 MPG on the highway. All models also come with Electronic Stability Control from StabiliTrak, as well as hill start and brake assist. Dodge has also offered all three models in either 2WD or 4WD. Those of us who like things a little, well, dirtier will be happy with the latter option. The SE and SXT Plus come with a 5-speed manual transmission, while the SXT comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
In front and rear test crashes, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2012 Caliber a rating of Good, in each respective category. Unfortunately, in rollover tests (roof strength), it barely received a rating of Acceptable. Side impact tests were even worse than the roof strength, receiving a mark of Marginal. Do you really want to own a car that will only “marginally” protect you in the event of a T-bone collision? We didn’t think so.
While safety should be a top concern in buying any vehicle, it’s not the only thing to look at. These safety ratings aren’t saying that you will get injured if you get in an accident. They’re merely statistics that any car buyer should be aware of. So if you’re interested in buying a Dodge Caliber the best thing to do is visit your local Dodge dealership and ask a salesman if you can take a test drive today.