- Smooth and quiet ride
- Clean, well-built interior
- Great sounding media center with 40 GB hard drive
- Excellent value
- 2.4 L 4-cylinder engine needs more pep
- Disappointing fuel efficiency
- Steering is a bit numb and the handling rather soft
- Exterior design needs updating
It’s been a long time since Dodge made a sedan good for more than rental fleet duty. From the K-cars of the 80’s to the more recent Intrepid and Stratus models, driving a Dodge sedan has rarely inspired much excitement.
With a name like the Avenger, you’d expect Dodge’s current mid-size sedan to offer at least some level of performance and style. Unfortunately, when it was released in 2008 the Avenger displayed the same mediocre performance, cheap interior, and generally underwhelming design as its predecessors, and the most likely place you’ll find an Avenger is at your local Enterprise or Budget.
Fortunately, 2011 has seen the rebirth of Chrysler and things are looking up. With new leadership from its Italian bosses, as well as an impressive array of redesigned and refreshed cars and trucks, the smallest of the Big Three looks to be leaving mediocrity behind. Although the exterior remains largely the same, the Avenger receives a significant makeover for 2011, including new powertrain options and a completely new interior.
Are these changes enough to warrant purchasing this mid-size Dodge, especially with so many good sedans on the market? For many the rental car stigma will be too much to overcome, but the more we drove the Avenger, the more we realized this is a car you could easily live with and perhaps even enjoy.
Befitting Dodge’s unpretentious, all-American image, our test car came equipped in Mainstreet trim, which sells for a bit over $21k. At this price point, a 4-cylinder engine is the norm, and the Avenger doesn’t deviate, offering a 2.4-liter engine that makes 173 hp. Handling shifting duties is a new 6-speed automatic transmission.
For ordinary driving, such as commuting or running errands, this combination works perfectly fine. Power is adequate and shifting is reasonably smooth and quick. The engine does strain when pushed hard and maneuvers such as passing or merging require a bit of planning, as even with the pedal to the floor acceleration isn’t particularly urgent. For those seeking more power, Chrysler’s 3.5L Pentastar V6 is now also available, although it’ll cost you almost 2 grand more.