2014 Avenger New Car Test Drive
The Dodge Avenger is an honest, straightforward sedan at a good price. In certain respects it's less sophisticated than some competitors, but it's powerful, comfortable and reasonably economical to operate. It's also quiet and pleasant to drive.
Avenger was launched as a 2008 model. A thorough update for the 2011 model year made the Avenger much more competitive in key areas. Avenger R/T joined the lineup for 2012. Avenger carries over to 2013 unchanged.
Dodge calls the Avenger America's most affordable mid-size sedan, and based on current retail prices, we can't disagree. Yet the Avenger isn't just selling price. Both the base four-cylinder engine and the upgrade V6 deliver excellent power and competitive mileage ratings. We might call it a mid-size package with compact value.
The 2008 Avenger appeared looking like a scaled-down version of the hot-selling, full-size Dodge Charger. Since then, the Charger has moved on to a new look, while the Avenger has remained mostly unchanged. It's still clean, tightly creased and not bad looking, but without the more dramatic proportions of the bigger car it doesn't stand out. Its basic visual impact is retrograde.
The cabin contributes to a relaxing, pleasant driving experience. The quality of the interior materials isn't the best in the class, but the Avenger is comfortable and the controls are intuitive and easy to use.
Avenger SE retails for hundreds of dollars less than the next competitive mid-size sedan, and it comes well equipped. Its 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder is strong and smooth, with acceleration performance that's better than adequate. With the 4-speed automatic transmission, the Avenger SE is EPA-rated at 21/30 mpg City/Highway. Avenger SXT models come with more equipment and a 6-speed automatic with the four-cylinder, increasing the EPA Highway rating to 31 mpg, for mileage ratings of 20/31 mpg.
Optional is a 283-hp, 3.6-liter V6 and a 6-speed automatic. The price is thousands less than other mid-size V6s, yet it's the most powerful V6 in its class. The Avenger V6 also out-powers every mid-size turbocharged four, while undercutting every one of them on price, too. EPA ratings are 19/29 mpg.
Avenger R/T comes with the V6, a sports suspension and racy stripes and interior treatment. Loaded with navigation and the Boston Acoustics audio upgrade, an Avenger R/T barely cracks $27,000.
The Avenger chassis is shared with the Chrysler 200, which was designed to be a convertible as well as a sedan, so the chassis is stiff and strong. You'll feel the tightness in both the cabin and handling. Dodge aced the suspension, and both ride quality and cornering response are excellent, benefits of that rigid chassis. The fine balance of comfort and handling contribute significantly to Avenger's appeal.
This mid-size has earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick award. Avenger comes standard with six airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes.
The front-drive Dodge Avenger sedan is available in three trim levels, with four- and six-cylinder engines and two different automatic transmissions.
Avenger SE ($18,995) is powered by a 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower I4, matched to a 4-speed automatic. Avenger SE comes standard with manual air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and remote locks, four-speaker audio with CD, cruise control, rear-window defroster and 17-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. SE options include SiriusXM satellite radio ($195) with one year subscription, Dodge's Uconnect ($495) voice command system with Bluetooth connectivity, and an engine-block heater ($95).
Also available is a 3.6-liter, 283-hp V6 engine ($2,700), which comes with a 6-speed automatic, aluminum wheels and a rear spoiler.
Avenger SXT ($21,695) comes with the four-cylinder and 6-speed automatic and upgrades to an eight-way power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, six-speaker audio with SiriusXM, automatic temperature control, body-color heated exterior mirrors and 17-inch aluminum wheels. V6 is optional ($1,795). SXT options include media center with 6.5-inch touch screen, 40GB hard-disc drive, navigation and Sirius services ($995); power sunroof ($995); Cold Weather Group with heated front seats and remote start ($295); chromed wheels ($395). A new Blacktop Package ($595) combines a body-color grille with a black headlamp bezels, a trunk spoiler, and 18-inch black-painted aluminum wheels.
Avenger R/T ($25,495) is the sport model, with the V6, firmer suspension, leather-bolstered sport seats and unique graphics inside and out. It also comes with foglights, the cold weather package, the media center, Boston Acoustics audio, and other goodies. Options are limited to the sunroof and navigation ($695).
Safety features on all models include multi-stage front air bags, front passenger side-impact airbags, full cabin head-protection curtains, electronic stability control (ESC), four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), active front head restraints and tire-pressure warning. The Avenger has been rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for the past four consecutive years.
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