2010 Dodge Avenger R/T Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on March 30, 2010

....and quite distinctive from profile. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on March 30, 2010

It pulls design cues from the brand-image setting Ram pickup. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on March 30, 2010

The Avenger offers a nicely designed, well laid-out interior, but the finishing touches aren't equal to the segment leaders. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on March 30, 2010

Seats are well contoured and comfortable, while the leather is nice and heated cushions a nice touch. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on March 30, 2010

Infotainment system is brilliant and high up in the centre stack for easy viewing, HVAC is user-friendly and 6-speed tranny smooth and responsive. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on March 30, 2010

Rear seat room is very accommodating. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

Published on March 30, 2010

The Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger get a lot of flack from critics for not measuring up to segment expectations, and to be fair to the naysayers the former Sebring, at least, was a very attractive car that sold extremely well, so for many the new one has been a letdown.  The new Avenger, however, takes the styling reins from Chrysler and hands them over to Dodge thanks to Charger design cues, and the overall look is good, especially in upgraded R/T trim like my tester. 

Let's get real for a minute.  Despite criticism from auto journalists and other industry types the Dodge Avenger sells quite well, and one of the reasons it gets the nod by so many midsize consumers is the appealing styling I just mentioned.  The other is price, and with an MSRP of $20,245 for the base SE, making it the lowest priced midsize sedan on the market, it packs a pretty good punch.  Then factor in discounts that can be in the thousands and you'll quickly add up value that's near impossible to come by with any rival. 

Standard features include air conditioning with filtration, power windows, central power locks with remote access, power mirrors, a tilt and telescoping steering column, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers, a driver's seat height adjuster and manual lumbar support, a front passenger seat that folds flat for carrying longer cargo that can span from the dash to the very rear of the trunk via 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, Stain Repel stain and odor-resistant seat fabric, the Chill Zone beverage storage bin, a Media Centre 130 audio system with four speakers and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 head unit plus an audio jack for external devices, plus much, much more. Body-colour door handles make the standard car look more upscale, although the black mirror housings detract from that a bit. 

The standard safety equipment list is pretty long too, featuring four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, dual front airbags, side thorax airbags for front occupants and side-curtain airbags for all four window passengers, plus active head restraints for those up front, and tire pressure monitoring.  While a front stabilizer bar is standard, traction and stability control is optional, as are 17" alloy wheels with larger 215/60R17 all-season tires to improve handling and therefore accident avoidance; the standard 16" wheel is steel with a wheel covering riding on 215/65R16 all-season rubber. 

Another extra is the Hands-Free Convenience Group that adds Uconnect wireless connectivity and Sirius satellite radio.  The SXT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, an 8-way power driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and a six-CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers, while the R/T's rear spoiler is optional, as are six Boston acoustic speakers and the Leather Interior Group. 

Base Avenger SE models and the SXT get a 16-valve, DOHC 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing (VVT) that's good for 173hp and 166 lb-ft of torque mated to a 4-speed automatic.  Last year there was a 2.7-litre V6 offered in SXT trim, but it has been dropped for 2010 in favour of a simpler two-engine range.  To get a six-cylinder you'll need to ante up to R/T trim for its 24-valve, DOHC 3.5-litre V6 with 235hp and 232 lb-ft of torque. 

The 3.5 is a good, strong engine that delivers jump from the stoplight and plenty of zip up to highway speeds, while shifts are quick and well controlled thanks to its more advanced 6-speed automatic, enhanced with AutoStick manual mode.  In all trim levels the Avenger's ride is exemplary.  Really, it's smooth and capable over rough inner-city road surfaces and, I'm guessing, the uneven pavement, frost heaves and potholes our rural roads are subject to.  This comes with a tradeoff, however, as handling is only adequate at the lower levels and merely ok in R/T trim, and that's with this model's standard 18" chrome alloy rims and 215/55R18 all-season performance tires.  To be fair, my R/T held its grip quite well when pushed through curves at a rapid rate, but transitional response was lacking and lean was very apparent.  Most drivers, however, will appreciate the aforementioned comfortable ride, so I don't see this as a major issue overall. 

My R/T tester will set you back $24,545, but for that price it's a relative steel with features over and above the powertrain upgrade that include heated leather seats, a premium woven headliner, body-colour heated mirrors, a rear spoiler, sport-tuned suspension, firm-feel steering, and front and rear stabilizer bars, plus the powertrain upgrade and larger wheel and tire package, of course. 

While performance in the R/T is good the Avenger is also quite practical in any trim level, with roomy front and rear seating and a decent sized trunk at 377 litres (13.3 cubic feet).  You can even tow up to 900 kilos (2,000 lbs) with the optional engine, 227 kilograms (500 lbs) more than most front-drivers can; the base engine's tow rating is 450 kg (1000 lbs). 

More important to most will be a fuel economy rating of 9.7L/100km in the city and 6.6 on the highway for the four-cylinder, which is extremely good for a midsize car.  Step up to the much more powerful V6 and you'll get stung in the city with a rating of 12.9L/100km, although its highway rating is only slightly thirstier at 7.7L/100km.  And take heart that the Avenger only needs regular fuel at the pump, saving a significant amount over cars that need premium.  Warranty coverage is average at 3 years or 60,000 km comprehensive and 5 years or 100,000 km powertrain. 

All in all I found my Avenger R/T more enjoyable than I expected, and easily worth its extremely reasonable price.  Even without discount this car would be a good deal, but add in the savings you can work out at the dealer level along with any incentive programs being offered by Chrysler and a new Avenger might become difficult to resist.  The fact that it's a good-looking car certainly weighs heavily in its favour too.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Dodge, 2010, Avenger, $20,000 - $29,999, Midsize,

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