2008 Avenger New Car Test Drive
The Dodge Avenger replaces all models of the old Dodge Stratus cab-forward front-drive sedan with an all-new chassis, body, suspension and powertrain lineup. It comes with a host of new standard equipment items never before seen in this segment and a wide range of options. It will compete at the heart of the American market with the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion and Pontiac G6, among others.
The Avenger shares all of its major mechanical systems and components with the Chrysler Sebring, although it is by no means just a clone. The Avenger chassis shared with the Sebring was designed from the beginning for a convertible as well as a sedan, and that means that it is extraordinarily stiff and strong compared to the old Stratus sedans, 1.7 times stiffer in twisting and 1.6 times stronger in bending. It's also designed to meet all of the coming crash regulations aimed at pedestrian safety and get multiple five-start crash ratings, too.
The sibling entry, the Chrysler Sebring, although it starts at about the same price, is a rounder, more traditional design for a different customer. The Dodge Avenger will reach out to those buyers looking for something different in a huge part of the market that offers a lot of sameness: front-wheel drive, four-cylinder or V6 engines, around 100 cubic feet of interior space, navigation, satellite radio and lots of interior storage spaces. Almost 2 million cars are sold each year in this, the largest single passenger-car market segment, and very few of them have the combination of style, features and options that the new Avenger will be offering.
Those features include a drink cooler in the dashboard, an optional beverage cooling/heating system in the center console, an optional rear-seat entertainment system in a sedan body (most are found in minivans and SUVs), and a 20-gigabyte hard-drive option for navigation, audio and photo storage.
The proposition here is a simple one: a scaled-down Charger four-door coupe for those family sedan buyers who would really like to have a car that looks like a big Charger, but operate their lives on a four-cylinder or V6 budget and sensibility, not a 5.7-liter Hemi budget.
The SE and SXT come with the 2.4-liter VVT inline four-cylinder engine. The SXT's performance can be boosted considerably with the optional 2.7-liter V6 engine that will also run on E85 ethanol fuel. Both engines come with a four-speed automatic transmissions. The R/T comes with the 3.5-liter V6 engine and a new six-speed overdrive automatic transaxle. The Avenger is front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive will also be available.
The Dodge Avenger comes in three models the base SE model, the middle SXT version, and the high-performance R/T.
Later in the model year, Avenger will become the first Dodge-brand front-drive car to offer an optional all-wheel-drive system. The AWD, which uses a simple power-takeoff from the six-speed automatic, will be fully computerized and capable of delivering up to 95 percent of drive torque to either front or rear wheels. It will be offered only on R/T versions with the 3.5-liter V6 engine.
You can tell them apart by their grilles. The SE versions have body-colored grilles, while SXT and R/T models have black-and-chrome grilles. But if you want your SE or SXT to look like an R/T, you can order a package that includes 18-inch wheels and tires, and the R/T rear spoiler.