In the 2012 Caliber, you have a choice between two adequate but noisy four-cylinder engines. Base versions work it out with a 158-hp 2.0-liter four; a 172-hp, 2.4-liter four can be found on pricier versions; on either, you have a choice between a five-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
If you can go with the manual, do it, as with the CVT these engines feel considerably more sluggish while also coarser in character. Both engines rev too slowly with the CVT to ever feel particularly responsive--and gas mileage is particularly low compared to all other small cars.
With tighter steering the Caliber still doesn't have the reflexes of a Golf, but does have decent ride quality. Steering isn't bad, but the Caliber tends to ride somewhat stiffly and bound over bumps, interfering with your ability to zoom through corners quickly on anything but perfect pavement.