Should 2013 Dodge Compact Be Named Dart, Duster, Camber...Or Caliber?

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2013 Dodge compact sedan - cropped

2013 Dodge compact sedan - cropped

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With just six weeks to go before the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, where Chrysler will unveil its critically important 2013 Dodge compact sedan, we still know relatively little about it. 

We've seen a spy shot, and last week we learned that the new model won't be called the Dodge Hornet, a name we rather liked.

“Hornet will not be the name," according to Reid Biglund, who runs the Dodge brand, talking to The Detroit News,

Turns out there are several other candidates for the new model's name, though.

According to enthusiast site AllPar, they are:

  • Dodge Dart
  • Dodge Duster
  • Dodge Camber
  • and even ... Dodge Caliber

We have our own opinions on each of these possibilities. You knew that, right?

1960 Dodge Dart - top

1960 Dodge Dart - top

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DART: We're old enough to remember the last of the Dodge Darts, a sedan that launched in 1960 and lasted until it was replaced in 1976 by the Dodge Aspen (the sedan, not the short-lived Chrysler sport-utility vehicle).

But perhaps the younger buyers that Dodge will likely target for this compact won't have any of those references, so Dart would be a new name altogether. We suspect Chrysler is surveying potential buyers and studying that question now.

DUSTER: The Plymouth Duster was the fastback body style of the badge-engineered Plymouth Valiant model, the equivalent of the Dodge Dart, from 1970 to 1976. It was also a trim level of the replacement Plymouth Volare.

1970 Plymouth Duster - factory photo

1970 Plymouth Duster - factory photo

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We chuckled at the lightweight 1976 Feather Duster, which had the best fuel economy in its class, not to mention the other special editions: Gold Duster, SIlver Duster, Space Duster, and the Duster Twister.

But both names smack of household items. Does anyone still dust?

CAMBER: This one has the advantage of no historic roots, pro or con. And it's not a word that most auto buyers are familiar with, being one dimension of suspension geometry.

But if there's to be a Dodge Camber sedan, can we expect a Dodge Caster hatchback or even a Dodge Toe-In truck to follow in a year or two?

(That was a suspension engineering joke. Never mind.)

CALIBER: This is the current, deeply uncompetitive, and slow-selling model that the new compact sedan will replace in the Dodge lineup.

2011 Dodge Caliber

2011 Dodge Caliber

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The Caliber five-door hatchback was launched in 2006, and didn't get great reviews at its debut. The intervening years have been less kind still.

Is this really another model name Chrysler wants to carry forward? It killed off its even-more-maligned Sebring name, and we suggest the same fate for Caliber.

But we'd like to hear what you think. If you ran Chrysler, what would you call the new, slightly-smaller-than-its-competitors Dodge compact sedan?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (12)
  1. I'd go with the Dodge Ogre. If limited to the choices above - Duster. It just doesn't look Dart-ish. Caliber and Camber are just lame. I went with Ogre because of it's brutish ugliness but what's in a name?

  2. Should be something entirely new, but if they were to resurrect a past name, Neon could be in the running.

  3. Dodge Dime

  4. Should be Caliber. American auto companies have the foolish reputation for discarding brand names left and right. This trashes brand equities, which are very expensive and difficult to establish. The Corolla and Civic have changed drastically since they was first launched, yet the names remain.

  5. Not sure if the "Caliber" has the same brand equity that the Corolla and Civic have enjoyed. Have you driven a "Caliber"? I have.

  6. True. But that wasn’t my point. There is never any brand equity built up if American companies stick to their old habits of name-du-jour. Other companies (Honda, Toyota) have learned the value of long-standing brand names. Other than a few holdouts like Mustang, Camaro, F-series, the Americans keep confusing consumers, requiring millions in marketing investments to establish new names.

  7. I like Dart, but Hornet would have been my choice. Neon may not be a terrible idea either. I don't think Duster fits. Camber is meh, and Caliber would be a mistake.

  8. How about the Dodge Turismo? It was a Plymouth name a while back. It is also has more of an italian flavor.

  9. Dodge Hornet is the most riveting name of all the choices mentioned. It has great historical appeal (Re: the "Hudson Hornet") and sounds good too. If brand equity is of any value, then it should be called the Dodge Neon since the Neon has much more capital than the Caliber ever did. Sometimes you don't want the name to stand out too much, and like the Honda Civic, the name Dodge Camber would not be too overbearing yet has a pleasant sound to the ear, which honestly is one of the most important factors for deciding on a name. That's why I would never go with the name Dodge Dart. But if we go with historical names, what about Dodge Rebel or Dodge Eagle, the latter being particularly appealing to me.

  10. i don't care for any of their choices, i agree to hornet or something new and catchy.

  11. Why on earth would Chrysler want to go back and pick a name from some of it's most awful, junky and worst vehicles? Leave those names in the corporate graveyard....PLEASE! Given the fact Chrysler always was an also ran in the auto business and never was a major force (sales wise at least unless you exempt mini-vans....which it pioneered) Chrysler needs to pick a name that stands out and is distinct. Caliber has potiential but it's tied to a failed model nobody likes and has received terrible reviews (resulting in terrible sales). So, if I had to pick one for Chrysler to go with Caliber would be it but a better choice would be something NOT associated with anything in Chryslers past(recent or otherwise).

  12. Very few people I know pay little attention to the name of the car or truck. My neighbor doesn't even know which Lexus she has because it has a letter and three numbers. I like the "Camber", not Hornet, not Dart. My son likes Dart and told me that as soon as this car hits the showrooms he is going to buy one. He is 15 so that won't happen!

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