2009 Avenger New Car Test Drive
The Dodge Avenger shares all of its major mechanical systems and components with the Chrysler Sebring, although it is by no means just a clone. The front-drive 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. It's also designed to meet all of the 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. This is the largest single passenger-car market segment, and very few of the competitors have the combination of style, features and options that the Avenger offers. Those features include a drink cooler in the dashboard, an optional beverage cooling/heating system in the center console, and an optional rear-seat entertainment system in a sedan body (most are found in minivans and SUVs).
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.
There are two trim levels, the SXT and performance-oriented R/T. The standard engine for each is a 2.4-liter flex-fuel four-cylinder with variable valve timing; it is rated at 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque, it can operate on gasoline or E85, which is the blend of 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gasoline, and it is matched with a four-speed automatic transmission. Optional on the R/T is a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 235 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque; it uses a six-speed automatic.
There are few changes for 2009. Some trim and interior items have received enhancements, 18-inch chrome-clad wheels are available on the R/T, there's a new color, and there have been changes to the options.
The two trim levels for the Dodge Avenger, the SXT and R/T, are differentiated by appearance and features. Standard on both models are power mirrors, keyless entry, 60/40-split rear seat, rear defroster, cruise control, tilt-telescoping steering wheel, tire-pressure monitor, and air conditioning.
You can tell them apart by their grilles. The SXT has a body-colored grille, while the R/T has black-and-chrome, and the R/T has a rear decklid spoiler and fog lamps. The R/T also has standard anti-lock brakes, power heated mirrors, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, an upscale sound system with six speakers instead of four, 17-inch tires and alloy wheels instead of the 16-inch tires and steel wheels of the SXT, and a higher level of interior trim. The R/T is also available with a wider range of options.
There are few options for the SXT, but several for the R/T, including Electronic Stability Program ($425), a sunroof ($795), uconnect ($360), and uconnect gps, which includes navigation and entertainment capabilities ($1,285). There are also a couple of options groups available with the R/T. The Navigation and Sound Group includes uconnect gps, navigation, six Boston Acoustics speakers, and other features ($1,695), and the Premium Convenience Group includes automatic climate control, auto headlamps, heated and cooled cupholder, one-touch front power windows, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, remote start, and a garage-door opener ($1,185).