By Colin Bird on December 28, 2011
The oft-forgotten Dodge Caliber and Dodge Nitro are officially dead; both vehicles ceased production this month. The old, but still popular, Ford Ranger compact pickup has also ended production, according to PickupTrucks.com.
The 2012 Caliber officially kicked the bucket this past Friday. The Caliber, which was produced at Chrysler Belvidere Assembly in Illinois, will be replaced by the 2013 Dodge Dart. The new compact sedan will go into production at the plant in August or September. In preparation for the Dart, the plant got a $600 million upgrade.The Caliber has been a misfire for Chrysler since it was introduced for the 2007 model year. A replacement for the Dodge Neon sedan, the hatchback-only Caliber fought an uphill battle in a compact market dominated by popular sedans. The Caliber’s cheap-feeling interior, unrefined powertrain options, poor fuel efficiency and relatively expensive pricing only made things worse. A 2010 model year refresh, which included a new interior, did little to help the model with critics or in the sales department. Since November, Dodge has produced only 47,974 units, down 27% from last year, with overall U.S. sales down 21%. Caliber sales peaked in 2007, with 101,079 sold. For the 2012 model year, the Caliber lineup has been simplified to just three trims: SE, SXT and SXT Plus. The base model starts at $17,380, excluding $750 for destination.
The 2011 Nitro ends its life with fairly steady sales. Chrysler produced 24,547 Nitros since November, which translates to a 1.9% drop in production from 2010. Chrysler had planned to end production earlier but extended it until December so the automaker could fulfill orders related to a sudden burst in customer demand for the model. The 2011 Nitro likely won’t be replaced, though it’s still under consideration. The Nitro’s sibling, the Jeep Liberty, will be replaced with a yet-unnamed model in 2012.
The Ranger, which was produced from 1983-2011 with more than 7 million sold, is a far greater loss to the automotive landscape than the two Dodges. While the Ranger will be replaced with a new model in some parts of the world, the U.S. market will stick with the more fuel-efficient Ford F-150. The end of Ranger production also spells the end of the Twin Cities Assembly Plant. The closure of the 86-year-old plant will displace about 800 workers, according to PickupTrucks.com.