By on March 30, 2007

avengersaction11.jpgRiding in a golf cart to the nether regions of a dealership lot, an aging salesman explained his selling strategy. “Chryslers appeal to either male or female buyers,” he declared through nicotine-stained teeth. “Take the Compass. That’s for the ladies. The Wrangler? Boys’ toy.” As our EV reaches the 2008 Avenger, it's clear that the latest entry in The Dodge Boys' lineup is no purple Barbie Sport Convertible. But does The Avenger deliver the goods, or is “he” an impotent superhero look alike?

First, let’s be clear about from whence cometh this car: the Dodge Avenger is a reskinned Chrysler Sebring, just as the Dodge Charger is a reskinned Chrysler 300. It’s a cheap and cheerful way to give Dodge dealers something to sell that isn’t the late, unlamented Stratus, or the slow-selling Dakota, or Ye Olde Durango. Something that’ll keep the UAW’s factories humming– at least until someone else takes over.

dg008_003av.jpgCompared to the Sebring’s disjointed styling– afflicted as it is by a clash of Art Deco motif and Analytic Cubism — the Avenger is, um, handsome. Dodge’s crosshair grille looks far more rugged than the Sebring’s muzzle, and more elegant than the stubby, pug-faced Dodge Caliber. The Avenger’s chin spoiler and front bumper form a Charlie Sheen-like square jaw. Quad LDH optics offer the intensity and sensitivity of Leonardo DiCaprio’s eyes, while the angular windshield and clean roofline project the nobility of Johnny Depp’s brow.

While we’re beating the celebrity metaphor to a bloody pulp, the Avenger’s rear quarter panels broaden around the wheels like Fabio’s muscular shoulders and five-spoke “Ultra Bright” aluminum wheels flash like Matthew McConaughey’s pearly whites.

avengersdetails5.jpgTwo flaws mar this otherwise stunning example of automotive manhood: cheap looking triangular black inserts that fill the aft corners of the rear windows and a useless wing adorning the rear deck, an aesthetic faux pas that suits The Avenger like an ill fitted toupee on a fifty-something athlete.

Actually, I’m just being picky. The Avenger offers a distinctive design– especially compared to the boring (e.g. Honda Accord) and outright ugly (e.g. Toyota Camry) sedans that dominate the class.

dg008_026av.jpgA quick survey of the interior confirms the Avenger’s true identity: an automotive Himbo. It’s attractive on the outside, vacuous on the inside. The Avenger’s interior designers attempted tasteful sophistication, refraining from button overload and utilizing classic shapes. But, once again, the quality of The Chrysler’s Group’s rock hard plastics is both inexplicable and inexcusable. Even Kia uses finer materials.

The “chrome” piece that frames the gear selector is easily removed from its track. It’s a brittle piece of plastic with a chrome finish laminated to the top. This is the exact same kind of short-lived chromed plastic that GM used for the door locks in my mother’s 1969 Buick Skylark. I’d expect similar longevity from this and the rest of the dreadful Mopar parts blighting the Avenger.

dg008_009av.jpgOn the positive side, you get a Chillzone Beverage Cooler, heated and cooled cupholders and (for the hopelessly flatulent) “odor-resistant fabric upholstery.”  

My SXT tester sheltered a 2.7-liter 24-valve V6 mated to a four-speed automatic cogswapper. This so-called “powerplant” slots between the rental grade 2.4-liter 4-cylinder World Engine and the RT’s torque steer special: a 235hp 3.5-liter V6. Dodge (and my new chain smoking best friend) expects this drivetrain will be US customers’ mill of choice. The 2.7 produces 189hp and delivers 19/27 mpg (as per updated EPA standards). How great is that?

dg008_002av.jpgNot very. The V6 Avenger delivers neither driving excitement nor outstanding fuel economy. At pedestrian speeds, the Avenger's ride is market compliant. At anything above a parking lot pace, the Avenger lacks the chassis poise and steering feel to reward anything remotely resembling a spirited maneuver. As indicated above, the Avenger channels all its meager power through the front wheels. (Optional AWD sends some torque to the rear wheels when needed.)

Push this dreary driving street rod towards the extremes and the 17” wheels (an upgrade from the SE’s 16’s) and chassis loses its composure like a paranoid schizophrenic at a UFO convention. If you love tire-squealing understeer slides– and what ignorant enthusiast doesn’t– the Avenger is a dream come true. Unfortunately, the drum and disk binders are a bit of a nightmare. They’re initially resistant to the idea of serious stopping, and lack feel once they get with the program.

avengersaction2.jpgAt the 2007 Dallas Auto Show, Dodge’s PR shills stood by an Avenger painted in Inferno Red Crystal Pearl and extolled the model’s many virtues. They compared it to all its rivals– except the Camry and Accord. At the risk of seeming sexist, the Avenger’s inability to compete with the class leaders must leave Chrysler hoping (against hope) there are some male buyers who believe beauty is only skin deep. Pigs.

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88 Comments on “Dodge Avenger Review...”


  • avatar
    tcwarnke

    I think the original Avenger looks better than this.

  • avatar
    Tomb Z

    What is it with these car companies and their need to apply the “useless wing toupee” to so many of their vehicles?

    Ugly and useless. What a concept.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Well, DMC did one good thing — make the Malibu/G6 look like the (domestic) class leader. GM thanks you!

  • avatar
    AKM

    Shaker,

    I still like the Fusion a lot better (even if the European Mondeo is by faaaaar the most handsome)

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I was really hoping this would turn out to be a better rental car.

  • avatar

    The Sebring served one purpose: it lowered expectations so much that people now see the Avenger as handsome.

    Like any fad on its last legs, tall decklid spoilers are now largely restricted to otherwise boring sedans. I see them most often on Camrys.

    I’ll be entering the Avenger into my database this weekend. For now, the Sebring can serve as a stand in, as the prices of the two are bound to be nearly identical when identically equipped.

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Sebring.php

  • avatar
    shaker

    AKM: Good point.
    With all of the UAW-Centric topics of late, I’ve developed a mindset that the Fusion is “domestic” in brand only (Mexican-Built, lots of foreign components)

  • avatar
    nichjs

    Well, it looks a LOT better than the stratus, but I still can’t beleive they have kept the 4sp tranny. That thing *truly* sucked. What I don’t understand is how my old Omega (Caddy catera) averaged (urban/highway) 38mpg (us gallon) out of a 2.5V6 177hp auto, while this 4 pot blender can only manage 27!!

    I do recall being genuinely scared by the apparent disconnect between the steering wheel and the front wheels on the stratus, it was like fly by wire. When I first got to detroit I was actually going round on ramps at the recommended speed out of fear of sliding clean off the road. I shouldn’t have worried really, the potholes would have arrested me…

  • avatar
    BlueBrat

    +2 Points for the excellent caption puns.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    The outfits (foolishly) trying to buy Chrysler from the Germans need to read all the TTAC reports about these rolling abortions. That might make the process easier. Two out of three probably would run away as fast as they could. (There’s always one imbicile in every crowd).

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Good review, Will.

    When the reviews for the 500 came in, Ford had the gumption to address its faults (power mostly, and interior materials).

    I hope DCX does the same here. A light pressure turbo I4 focused on economy and smoothness, attached to a DSG would go a long way to correct its ills. You could package that powertrain plus an upgraded suspension/tire package as an SXT model, and it would be a decent deal at $18K. $20K for AWD.

    The cheap interior is an issue, but we are talking Dodge here, what do you expect, really?

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    “for the hopelessly flatulent”

    “loses its composure like a paranoid schizophrenic at a UFO convention”

    now i remember why i read this site every day.

  • avatar
    tones03

    Every review of these cars (Avenger and Sebring) say the same thing, interior is crap, powertrain is terrible (unless you get top of the line) outside is ok for Dodge and hideous for Chrysler. The heated/cooled cup holders and Mygig hard drive radio thing are cool. They all forsee it going to rental lots across America, this one used some better description and analogies. I hope the buyers for Chrysler learn how to design and build a vehicle, other wise your “investment” will go down the crapper.

  • avatar

    Completely pointless car. Worse, an indication of just how bankrupt this company is for product ideas.

  • avatar
    troonbop

    Drum and disc? That’s kind of lame, even by my hunble, working class standards.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Thankfully these spoilers are almost nonexistent in Europe these days. Then again, so are medium sized sedans. The only sedans that significantly outsell their wagon equivalents here are the business reps’ 5series/A6s/Es. Private buyers all go for the wagons or hatches.
    I think that will be the case in the USA too in the near future.

    It’s amzing that Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep STILL use these interior plastics in every car they produce. How can they not see it isn’t working this way. That supplier must have some serious leverage over someone whithin Chrysler…

    …not impressed by the new C-class interior either, no matter what all the mags seem to tell everybody.

  • avatar
    92camrywagon

    “the Avenger is, um, handsome”

    Can we have a moratorium on “um”? You guys say “um” more than Spinelli says “interesting.”

  • avatar
    FreeMan

    Quality in the interior is important – I don’t want pieces ratteling and falling off. At least, not for hte first 10k miles :). But really, the only place where feel is important is in the parts that I actually feel – steering whees & column stalks, seats, door pulls, window switches, etc. I can’t tell you the last time I got in my car and rubbed, or even cleaned, the gear shift selector (yeah, it’s a slushbox. sorry.) surround plastic or touched the dash.

    As a matter of fact, I didn’t even check the feel of it when I bought the car. I noted that it was there, it didn’t rattle, and it wasn’t broken (used car purchase), and that’s the last I thought of it. Sure the Avenger may have some cheap, chromed plastic on the surround, and that chrome finish may wear off, but what do you keep down there that’s going to rub against it? Are you getting that much front seat nookie that this is an issue?

    Now, if they use that same material on the door pulls, which I use several times a day, that’s different…

    Otherwise, excellent review! And I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one in the world who finds the design of the new Camry puktastic. There’s something about the curve of the trunk that makes every one of the name badges look like it’s been put on crooked.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    At the Atlanta Auto Show, the Dodge and Chrysler exhibits were empty of shoppers, except for people ogling the Challenger Concept.

    They didn’t even have the new minivan on display.

    These guys are toast.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    you’re more forgiving of the styling than I am. I have to say the look of the charger has grown on me… when it first came out I thought they looked like gigantic penis-mobiles for the less than well endowed. stuffing those design cues on this smaller piece of junk is pretty, well, pathetic is the only word that comes to mind. surely you didn’t expect it to actually drive well. 19/27mpg 189hp??? that’s unbelievable.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Apparently car reveiwers must rub their genitals against the dashboards of cars they review because they harp on “hard plastics” all the time.
    The Avenger looks good and I’m sure it will drive and work well. I’d buy one over the Fusion because it looks so much better and the audio options are superior.

  • avatar
    Cowbell

    As a sign of how we’re all going to have to get used to the new epa standards, 19/27 for 187hp isn’t that bad.

    A 4 cylinder Camry gets 21/30 for 158hp under the new standards.

    The Aveneger actually actually gets more out of it’s fuel when you factor in the increase in horse power.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Davey49: Please, don’t go giving away our trade secrets!

    Seriously, drive both the Fusion and the Avenger before coming to any rash conclusions. The fun-to-drive quotient of the Avenger is about as bad as it gets.

  • avatar
    Thomas Minzenmay

    I really like the exterior of the Avenger and even the interior looks acceptable on the pictures. Unfortunately, I’ve been driving Chrysler other products before, so I know that the interior materials are not among the most pleasing…I’d say that this in fact is even worse than the suboptimal driving dynamics. Most people want to feel “at home” but couldn’t tell if their car is detached from the road or not.
    I just don’t understand how a automaker can still build interiors like that…

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Just wondering: How much more would it cost the domestic (2.5) makers to produce very high quality interiors for all their vehicles? Perhaps not to Audi standards, at least not in the less expensive models, but certainly to best-in-class (say Jetta). Then even the harshest critics would have to concede them interior quality. And isn’t that what the average owner continually takes pleasure in? It seems so simple: Just copy the best maker’s efforts. You don’t even need to be creative. It’s inexplicable to me why a carmaker would ever make a cheesy and ugly interior.

  • avatar
    Spartacus

    I’ve driven the R/T version with the 230 hp 3.5 liter angine and 6 speed tranny. I liked it. While I am not a big fan of the faux spoiler, the appearance (in ‘sunburst orange pearlcoat’) was enough to turn a lot of heads and garner several questions at stop lights.

    I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of torque steer. 230 hp to the front end made me think that I’d be wrestling with the wheel with every green light after flicking off the ESP. It’s there, but it’s much less than I would’ve guessed. The headroom in the front and rear were great for a six foot tall guy, and rear seating was comfortable.
    For a mid-sized sedan, it wasn’t a (nice interior) Camry, but then again, it wasn’t a (boring as tapioca) Camry.

  • avatar
    davey49

    The domestic brands could have great feeling interiors if they were allowed to hire temps that make $8-10 per hour with no benefits. I’ll live with the crappy interior if the people building the car can afford to feed their families.
    If you get ABS on the V6 models, the Avenger has 4 wheel disc brakes.
    ESC is available on the SXT and RT
    Fun to drive is generally overrated IMO. I’d prefer quiet and smooth. Any opinions on the noise level? This is a point where the Saturn Aura has almost everyone beat.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Why do I still see “Dodge Intrepid” when I look at the back ends of the Charger and Avenger? I mean, the Intrepid was a nice enough sedan from that angle, but those taillight cues have gotta go, esp on the Charger.

    Even with rebates piled on the hood, I can’t imagine wanting this over an Accord, Fusion, Milan , Altima, G6, etc.

  • avatar
    stimpy

    I rented cars for a few weeks while waiting for my new car to come in and I had the misfortune of driving a last generation Dodge Neon for a week. All I can say is, that car made Soviet automotive engineering look spectacular by comparison. What a thoroughly primitive vehicle! The interior was like someone took a giant hunk of pale grey styrene and whittled it down with a butter knife. Ugh! I felt like I was on welfare every time I got into that car. The running gear felt like it was assembled from scavenged agricultural equipment. The brakes actually appealed to me because they made the thing stop what it was doing for awhile.

    After driving that car for a week, I would no more consider a Dodge, any Dodge, than I would a Lada or Trabant or Yugo. It was that bad. It really gave me pause, in considering the state of American manufacturing. Having driven mostly Japanese cars for the last 20 years, it was quite a sobering experience.

  • avatar
    CreepyScoutmaster

    Sweet name, though. Reminds me of Red Dawn, possibly the greatest movie ever made… “Avenge me, boys. AVENGE MEEEE!!”

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    This car is pure crap. Shockingly bad. No hyperbole intended… DCX’s interiors tactile quality are on par with an 80s Omni. This company is churning out so many lemons lately, that I would really like to more clearly understand what the hell is going on. Do they understand the competition? Do they know what business they’re in? Have they seen the benchmarks? The other two domestic manufacturers, especially GM, are finally building cars that are fully competitive, inside and out, and without having to make excuses. To manufacture cars that are of lower quality than a Kia is just not acceptable for domestic manufacturers these days.

    What is needed now, is not another review of a crummy Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep vehicle. What we need is a critical analysis of what is happening with this company. Minus the tongue and cheek humor. Well, maybe a little.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    “Take the Compass. That’s for the ladies.” That = LOL given the argument we had previously about this thing :)

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Dodge invites criticism of its low fun-to-drive factor because the dissonance between its looks and performance is so great. The grille is specifically designed to project aggression and power. The hulkingly flared rear quarter panel is characteristic of RWD muscle cars. These styling cues (and others) make the visual promise that this is a strong-engined sports car sedan. It’s not. They lied. The machine is a poseur.

    Yes, it is reasonably quite. But again, this contradicts the visual statement that says, “turn up the throttle and I will delight your ears with a horsepower symphony” but delivers a Kazoo rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Litte Star.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    As the Sebring was perhaps the worst modern vehicle I’ve ever driven, I can’t believe how kind Mr. Montgomery was to it’s inbred Dodge cousin.

    And Mr. Davey 49 — There is no excuse for mediocrity. Honda Accords, built right here in America, are nearly perfect. Go drive the 244hp version with the six-speed.

    DCX could have, should done better.

  • avatar
    86er

    “Sajeev Mehta: Why do I still see “Dodge Intrepid” when I look at the back ends of the Charger and Avenger? I mean, the Intrepid was a nice enough sedan from that angle, but those taillight cues have gotta go, esp on the Charger.

    Even with rebates piled on the hood, I can’t imagine wanting this over an Accord, Fusion, Milan , Altima, G6, etc.”

    I’ve wondered the same thing. Always seemed to me like they were cleaning out the parts-bin when they put those taillights on.

    I wonder what ’66 style taillights would look like on the Charger…

    You know, besides better.

  • avatar
    blautens

    I read a blurb (straight from DCX) that it expects the Avenger to steal sales from other like sized domestics.

    Yeesh – nothing like setting your goals high, huh? Again, I’d like nothing more than to have interviews with people responsible for this car (not PR flacks) and have someone ask the tough questions and to have them justify their efforts at mediocrity.

    As opposed to watching yet another episode of Autoline Detroit (oh, John McElroy, when will you grow a pair?).

  • avatar
    carguy

    If the Sebring/Avenger is Chrysler’s weapon of choice to compete with the new Malibu/Aura, Fusion, Accord and Camry then I value the company at $0. It seems that while GM and Ford are showing signs of life, the light are still off at Chrysler.

    And for those who think that a terrible interior is the result of paying workers a living wage – please consider that workers at Toyota, Honda were paid more than UAW workers last year and they seemed to manage to produce products that people actually wanted to buy. Maybe its just bad product design?

  • avatar
    NickR

    ‘you get a Chillzone Beverage Cooler, heated and cooled cupholders and (for the hopelessly flatulent) “odor-resistant fabric upholstery.’ Between that and the cheesetastic rear wing my wallet practically lept from my jacket.

    Seriously, though the cars performance utterly betraying it’s aggressive appearance is Williams’ most salient point. If you your car is classy and undertated, or elegant, you can almost get away with an uninspired ride. If you make your ride look like a middleweight fighter, it had better be able to back it up.

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    “davey49:
    March 30th, 2007 at 10:24 am

    The domestic brands could have great feeling interiors if they were allowed to hire temps that make $8-10 per hour with no benefits. I’ll live with the crappy interior if the people building the car can afford to feed their families.”

    According to the recent news stories on the MG plant opening up in China, labor costs are about 8-9% of the total cost of a car. So I don’t think you need to choose between soft-touch plastics and soup kitchens.

  • avatar
    rossjk

    Drum brakes? Are you kidding? A 14k Kia Spectra has 4 wheel disc brakes as standard equipment. DCX should save the money and stop building yet another wasted project. Is anyone steering the ship there? Seems like they couldn’t care less what garbage they sell.

    Calling this thing mediocre insults mediocrity.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Well at leat they are bringing harmony to the TTAC crowd, Avenger = Peacemaker? :)

  • avatar
    TeeKay

    I gave up on the idea of buying a domestic for its interior quality and gas milage. But I still expect 1 thing from a cheap Big 2.5 product = copious amount of good old grunt, even if on the wrong drive wheels.

    189hp for a 2.7; 230hp for a 3.5? That’s unacceptable. I believe even a Huyndai can squeeze more power out of such displacements.

    And Chillzone? Heated cupholders? Are we talking about a car or a concession stand? Does Dodge expect their owners to drive or to have a picnic in the car?

    While the (UAW) job-robbing imports foist on the unsuspecting buying public such mundane “safety” things as curtain airbags, cruise control that will stop for you, headlights that will turn with the car, back-up cameras, lane-departure warnings, auto-parking, disc brakes, etc., Dodge knows better. What every red-blooded American needs from a car is not handling or power, but the ability to store 6 cold ones for a hot summer day and a warm coffee for the chilly night. Who needs to drive when you already have such a huge rear-deck wing. It already looks fast standing still!

    But this is not the reason why the Big 2.5 can’t sell cars. The main reason – and every politician in Michigan knows it – is the Japanese’s amnipulation of the Yen. [See the latest editorial.]

  • avatar
    danms6

    My transportation during college was a red ’98 Avenger ES. I sat in the new ‘Avenger’ at the auto show and was disgusted. You can safely say that this is a huge step down in every possible way, minus power and a Chillzone.

    The previous generation Avenger had sleek styling and had a relatively smooth drivetrain with a decent interior for the price. This rolling abortion displays a poseur image of brute force and apparently drives like hell. All while having the worst interior I’ve ever sat in and 2 less disc brakes than its 12 year old predecessor.

  • avatar
    davey49

    I think I’d work on the engine/transmission issues before the interior. A 4 speed auto is low rent these days. A modern 4 cylinder and a 5 or 6 speed auto would be better. The turbo 4 is a good idea. It worked for Chrysler back in the 80s. maybe they could buy some from VW.
    Jonny L- I like the Accord but I would go with the 4 because it costs less/gets better fuel economy.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Another thing you’ve got to ask about this is
    Has Chrysler ever made a truly great car?
    I’m trying to think and can’t really come up with anything.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I am hopeful that DCX ‘s strategy with the Avenger/Sebring is to produce the lowest cost midsize sedan and target the fleet market. As Ford and GM pull away from fleet sales, this is probably the most effective way to keep the factory humming.

  • avatar
    NickR

    As a fan of classic Mopars who counts many A body fans amongst my friends, it seems Chrysler turned around 180 degrees. Remember Dart Swinger 340s? A little mundane on the outside, even with stripes and bright colours, but with a 340, a 4 speed, and 3.55 or 3.91 gears they were a hoot to drive. The Avenger (Impostor?) looks the part, but is as exciting as, well, a six cylinder Dart.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I guess what ticks me off so much about the Avenger/Sebring is the lack of effort. Criticize the Aura and ’08 Malibu all you want, but at least GM is putting forth an honest effort to compete with Camry/Accord. The Fusion and ’08 Taurus may not be perfect, but they represent the best Ford can do, and I don’t think anyone should apologize for buying one.

    The Sebring/Avenger on the other hand come off as Detroit business as usual, a day late and a dollar short. As if beverage coolers, heated cupholders and a 20 gig hard drive would blind customers to the fact that Chrysler simply didn’t execute well.

    I don’t wish bankrupcy or unemployment on anyone, but at some point, you have to wonder whether a lot of people at Chrylser haven’t earned it.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Maybe it’s time to, um, address the writing style plague that, um, seems to be affecting all these, um, reviews.

    Not sure where I saw it, but someone else said it best about DCX – why is a good one (300) always followed by such crap? (Sebring, etc)

    In car beverage coolers? Just who was asking for these? Could that money have been better spent on better plastics for the benefit of those so obsessed?

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    “Criticize the Aura and ‘08 Malibu all you want…”

    The only consistent criticism I’ve heard about the Aura is that some door trim is of poor quality and that the fake wood is a bit heavy-handed. But really, these are niggling little things and the Aura is a pretty sweet package that easily competes against the likes of the Camry. Compare this to the to the newly launched Sebring/Avenger, and we’re talking two different leagues completely.

  • avatar
    Ray Jaholic

    davey49:

    Chrysler has indeed won a few awards with the 300.

    http://www.chrysler.com/300/awards.html

    Your dashboard/genital comment made me chuckle.. it reminded me of the ‘mercury mistress’ SNL skit (google it)

    I for one don’t need to be coddled with ultra-plush interiors and spongy, malleable plastics. I’ve read lots of reviews here hammering on ‘rubbermaid’ plastics etc., which makes me think that perhaps the reviewer was weaned too early. My WRX had a harsh interior. The preceding Forester, Integra, Cavalier and Omni all had basic interiors. My Charger R/T has a pragmatic interior. Don’t care. It’s a family hauler that goes 0-60 in 5.7 and still makes me giggle a year later.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    On Um

    I must defend my masterful use of ‘Um” in this piece. In its context, Um provides a thoughtful pause that communicates to the reader that the next word was chosen carefully; that it might surprise the reader or be somehow ironic; giving the dull word, ‘handsome’ a significance that it would not have if it were stranded naked without the protective blanket of ‘Um’ to precede it.

    Invocation of ‘Um’ further tells the reader, I, the author, am not a word snob, wrapped in a world of witty polysyllabic prose. I can get down with the people. It means that I am accessible and hip.

    Or maybe it just means that I am full of crap and should never use the word again. I’ll go with that.

  • avatar
    mrcknievel

    Dodge is apparently quite content with making tough looking cars to star in tough looking commercials.

    First the Nitro blowing things up..now this thing being praised for it’s engine note…

    good grief.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Now you’re just trying to get me in trouble at work… “for the hopelessly flatulent” indeed. Bravo, dear sir. It is truly embarrassing to see how badly they screwed this car up. My LGT has hella more power, 2 fewer cylinders, and slightly lower gas mileage. It’s why I swear to myself that domestic automakers just don’t know how to build decent engines. They think slapping more cylinders into it is the answer for their shortcomings.

  • avatar
    stimpy

    I have to weigh in on the interior plastics issue. I, for one, spend most of my time INSIDE my car. A lousy interior with a Playskool look and feel is just plain lazy product design, planning, engineering, materials sourcing – you name it. That’s like saying you don’t mind that the interior of your house is a dump – just look at the exterior paint color and snappy shutters! And the furnace works great! Come one! Aesthetics are important! They show that the people who build your car give a damn! That they want your time spent in their automobile to be pleasing to your senses. How do you “plastics don’t matter” guys not get this? Not to mention that beyond the obvious quality shortcomings in the materials, that DCX interiors look like the were assembled from three big slabs of pre-fabbed crap that were pounded into place by big guys with mallets?

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    It’s close to impossible to top the 1968 Dodge Charger for purity of line; however, the mechanicals are what they are: primitive. Given that, maybe Chrysler should just shelve this car, as soon as possible, and bring back the same set of lines as the old Charger in question, albeit, shortened for this platform.

    If Daimler doesn’t sell Chrysler off by then, they could borrow some of the suspension pieces from Mercedes – maybe the C-series.

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    What is the purpose of this car?

    For ’07 Dodge put the 2.7 in the SE Charger and knocked the price down from $24G to $22G. Don’t they realize the Charger is playing the well worn Dodge role of a big car at a medium car price?

    They ALREADY compete with the Camry – with the Charger. Here in the Chicago area Chargers of every stripe – SE SXT and R/T are legion – you see them anywhere you look.

    Why on earth would anyone who can spend $19G not spend another $3G to get the real thing? The Charger actually does look sleek from some angles, while this thing looks like a blob – the Camry looks like a Jaguar compared to this.

    If they just wanted to cover a lower price point, they could have introduced a “Polara” version of the Charger, perhaps with cheaper grille and taillights – maybe throw the free CD player and console overboard and use a split bench so they can call it a 6 passenger car.

    The Avenger is a symptom of the disease of platform proliferation.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    I loved the reference to nicotine stains and new chain smoking best friend…those cracked me up. :)

  • avatar
    davey49

    Oh well, I’ve looked at the interiors of just about every car on the market now and none have been offensive enough to prevent me from buying. I guess I just don’t really care. I remember when they put radios down near the shifter or window switches back on the center console so anything is better now.
    Consider us lucky that the Chrysler midsizers are the poor choice because it means that cars are so good now you could toss car names in a hat and pick one at random, buy that one and be fairly happy.

  • avatar
    davey49

    King Elvis- some of us want FWD. and the Avenger is 10″ shorter than the Charger

  • avatar
    mrcknievel

    Honestly..the outgoing c-class used a 1.8 liter 4 that put out the same horse power (189) and better gas mileage..it’s like Benz is putting the anti-freeze in the hubcap and waiting for the Dodge doggie to drink..

  • avatar
    MLS

    While I agree that the tactile quality of the Avenger’s interior plastics in lacking, I think the overall design looks pretty good. Some people are being way too harsh in this regard. I mean, does the Camry’s interior (photo) really look any better than the Avenger’s (photo)?

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    As entertaining/depressing as these Chrysler/Dodge reviews are, I’d like to propose that TTAC boycott any further reviews of Chrysler/Dodge products unless and until they build a product that is even remotely interesting to the driving enthusiast and worthy of our attention.

    If Chrysler/Dodge hasn’t gotten the message at this point that they can’t even manage to pull together a tablestakes effort, then they deserve to be ignored.

  • avatar
    rheath2

    I guess I my I did myself some good as far as this whole cheap interior deal. For the last few years, I’ve driven either a 98 Wrangler or a 00 Cherokee. I’m happy to say I have no clue what a bad interior is due to things like plastic-feel/softness.

    That being said, I’m hoping the next few evolutions of the Avenger will produce something a bit more…exciting? Perhaps a 4 cylinder base with 4 speed auto for the rentals/low ends, with the 5 speed manual as an option. Those 4 cylinders could be the 2.4 or 2.0, respectively. The SXT should get the choice of the 180 HP 2.4 turbo or the 230 HP 2.4 turbo out of the PT Cruiser Turbo/GT with 5/6 speed sticks or whatever auto Chrysler puts on it (4 speed auto for the GT Cruiser option?). The RT would retain it’s 3.5 V6 and 6 speed auto, with the option to bump up for the 4.0 V6 and 6 speed manual. Add AWD as an option for the SXT/RT and I think some of the power issues would be solved.

  • avatar

    Is it just me or does it appear that in this segment the real sleeper has to be the new Hyundai Sonata. Like man I am seeing them everywhere here in Central Ohio, and although obviously not yet in CamCord territory in terms of refinement and quality, each version gets incrementally better. And who can argue with the value quotient? For $18K or less you get pretty much all the goods in this segment (besides residual value – but that too is trending upwards).

    What Dodge needs IMHO is a vision of what they actually want to be, other than of course the car company for real men who know nothing about real automobiles.

    I have seen the Avenger up close (not driven it) and it looks OK. But it already looks “old” and stale. How is it that a car company can bring out an all new vehicle that, right out of the box looks dated? This chunky design motif, although a refreshing alternative to T and C’s bland-forward, looks fat and tired on the street, not nimble, agile, performance oriented. I like the ‘Boss” cues, but I agree that all show and no go always equals no dough!

  • avatar
    shaker

    The name “Avenger” is certainly wasted on this bloat-mobile, a far cry from its nimble, sporty predecessor. Perhaps Dodge should start naming its vehicles after wrestling stars, with tbe Charger bearing the name of “Hulk Hogan”. This one… Kurt Angle?

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    I humbly second (or fourth?) the request that “um” should, along with “hoon”, be deleted from the TTAC lingo.

    “Uh, er, and um, in particular, have been flagrantly overused by feature writers and columnists to signal an impending attempt at irony or humor; the maneuver is now well beyond cliché, somewhere in the neighborhood of desperation.”
    – Ben Yagoda, “The Good Word”, Slate.com Feb 16 2007.

    Great review, regardless of interjections!

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Damn! Only after posting did I notice that WCM had already addressed the “um” problem in a wittier fashion than I ever could. Pie on my, um, face!

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Anyone else see this car as the Grand Am reincarnate?

    The styling theme has shifted from ’90s “four-door-Testarossa” to ’00s “national-paranoia-channeled-into-compensatory-hypermasculinity.” But the Avenger is the product of the same crass mindset: trust your customers not to know quality when they see/feel it, and sell them tacky gimmicks. And if that doesn’t work, play the “wimpy Honda” card.

    Just when I thought Detroit was getting past this…

  • avatar

    There is no way you can name all Chrysler products in the last 2 years or so, all with the same ugly interior!
    Thank god Plymouth is gone…………….

  • avatar
    Haudi

    I’ve only seen a few of these around Denver, but all of them had a little green “E” on the back, designating them as an Enterprise rental car. That’s a bad first impression!

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    “davey49:
    March 30th, 2007 at 10:24 am

    The domestic brands could have great feeling interiors if they were allowed to hire temps that make $8-10 per hour with no benefits. I’ll live with the crappy interior if the people building the car can afford to feed their families.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but if the difference between building a crap car and a pretty good (or even great) American car resulted in a price tag $2000 higher, I would gladly pay it in order to support American industry and labor. I’ve mentioned this in other posts and I’m saying it again here.

    GM has claimed the price of U.S. unionized labor and “legacy costs” puts them at a $1500 disadvantage compared with the Asian automakers. I’m prepared to pay that higher cost – but only for a car I really like!

    Fortunately, it appears that GM, and even Ford, are beginning to wake up. The Saturn Aura and ’08 Malibu strike me as solid – even desirable – mid-sized four-door sedans that can go up against the import (captive or otherwise) competition with no excuses. I even think the Fusion is quite reasonable for the price. Now, please, can we have two-door versions of these cars? And how about manual transmissions with the V6s?

    “CarNut:
    March 31st, 2007 at 8:09 am
    Is it just me or does it appear that in this segment the real sleeper has to be the new Hyundai Sonata. Like man I am seeing them everywhere here in Central Ohio, and although obviously not yet in CamCord territory in terms of refinement and quality, each version gets incrementally better. And who can argue with the value quotient? For $18K or less you get pretty much all the goods in this segment (besides residual value – but that too is trending upwards).”

    I was up in New England last summer (Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine). The number of current-generation Hyundai Sonatas that I saw was startling. (I also saw a surprising number of Saab 9-5 wagons in Maine.) I suspect the Sonata may soon become the next Camry for typical American drivers. Already, at least near my home in New Jersey, the Hyundai Elantra has already replaced the Corolla as the compact four-door of choice in that market space. Toyota had better watch it.

    But back to DCX for a moment. While the interiors of Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth-branded cars have been pretty cheap for the last two decades, I wonder where these product decisions are being made – Auburn Hills or Stuttgart? Chrysler had a hit on its hands with the 300, using the bones of the previous-generation Mercedes E Class. It was a strategy that worked for everyone involved. Why didn’t the Chrysler Group use the platform from the outgoing C Class for the Sebring/Avenger – or even the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass/Patriot for that matter?

    Perhaps I can answer my own question because I’ve read reports that indicate elitism within Mercedes prevented this product strategy from reaching its logical fruition. If this is true, then DCX – and its greedy, shortsighted shareholders in Europe – deserves everything it gets. The bad part is, it seems a lot of American workers may pay the price of such staggering stupidity and cluelessness.

    A few years ago, Mercedes was on the rope with sagging sales and huge quality issues. The Chrysler Group was doing fairly well at that point and helped DCX weather the storm. But apparently, the shareholders don’t have don’t have the patience to allow the company to provide the U.S. unit with the products it now needs to succeed.

  • avatar
    davey49

    The Avenger can only hope to be Grand Am reincarnate. The GA was often GMs best selling car.

  • avatar

    I guess it says something that I didn’t even NOTICE it at the Dallas Auto Show.

  • avatar
    boredlawstudent

    Hyundai Sonata’s can be great used car values but as new cars their lack of resale value troubles me. In my area plenty of 2006 Sonata V6’s w/ low miles can be had for as low as $12K. What a steal!

  • avatar
    msmiles

    mmmm fart resistant man seats

  • avatar
    Johnson

    And Chillzone? Heated cupholders? Are we talking about a car or a concession stand? Does Dodge expect their owners to drive or to have a picnic in the car?

    Thanks for my morning laugh.

  • avatar
    stimpy

    Steve Biro really hit the nail on the head in his post. I think that, rather than trying to slightly under-cut or match the Japanese brands on price and deliver a far less satisfying end product, the domestics should try to deliver a similarly well-executed product at a slight price premium. God knows the Japanese build some bland to downright ugly looking cars and the domestics, by and large, beat them on looks. And damnit, make manuals available in something other than the entry-level ride! I can’t even express how much more likely I’d be to buy American!

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Another Homer designed car. Chillzone for the Duff man.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    year 2015. new dodge avenger . built on a watered down galant platform, with watered up mitsu 2,5 liter dohc twinturbo. yes, it`s japanese. yet the air being sucked into turbos is pure american.so are floor mats. well, and spare tyre too.and ripley`s believe it or not, even some parts of the door handle unit are in house built! the rest are from global parts bin. but global means there is nothing from detroit probably. detroit has it`s own solar system to spin around…..

  • avatar
    Wheely

    I mean, does the Camry’s interior (photo) really look any better than the Avenger’s (photo)?

    Yes, it does. Haven’t seen either in person, but the photo of the Camry looks reasonably well laid out yet boring, where the Avenger’s interior is just hideous.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    The Avenger is rental car trash for all I’m concerned.

  • avatar
    moto

    Dodge demonstrates the fine art of applying an exciting-sounding name to a piece of trash car. To call this thing, um, handsome is the most ridiculous thing i have ever heard. It’s equally as bad as the rest of the DCX lineup.

  • avatar
    critter

    The names the same………… But the car definitely is not….. This is a piss-poor shadow of a modern classic…….. If their intention was to motivate me to shell out 25K to replace my 9 year old ES they have failed miserably….. A definite step down what a shame….. on them

  • avatar
    jeremy5000

    I was taking a look at one of these on display inside a mall. My 98 Golf has more even panel gaps and better interior materials.

  • avatar
    silverkris

    I had the opportunity to drive one as a rental car on a recent family vacation.

    The Avenger has a very roomy interior both front and back. The standard 2.4L engine was very adequate in terms of acceleration with a load of 3 people + luggage, and achieved good fuel economy (about 25 mpg mostly highway driving). I think for most people, the 2.4L is pretty usuable. Controls were pretty straightforward and easy to operate. The fabric upholstery looks pretty durable. The exterior styling is pretty distinctive and isn’t a copy of other cars – it follows the Charger and other Dodge vehicles.

    My biggest beef, which is consistent with many other posters, is the interior appointments. The ugly, plain plastic door panels, just don’t cut it for me, and the blah interior color. When you are looking at the interior day in and day out, it just looks monotonous. The rear quarter styling cue unfortunately also obscures your rearward vision.

    It’s a perfectly practical car but it’s just not good enough in this competitive mid-sized sedan segment – the Accord and the Camry have much nicer interiors.

  • avatar
    silverkris

    I’ve noticed that some posters have suggested a labor price/cost disadvantage experienced by the US-based automakers as a explanation for the cheapo interiors.

    That is proabably a bit overstated.

    Most of the cars sold by Toyota/Honda in North America are assembled locally. While most of transplant factories aren’t UAW organized, they do pay comparable wages and benefits. The Fremont, CA NUMMI plant (which builds the Toyota Corolla, Matrix and other models) is a UAW shop.

    The other thing is that labor costs account for perhaps 8-9% of the total cost of a vehicle.

    Granted, the big difference is the legacy health care benefits and retiree benefits that GM, Chrysler and Ford have to pay given that they have an older workforce and have bought out a lot of early retirements over the years. That is a big issue.

    But I don’t think this should be an obstacle in sourcing better plastics and designing a better interior. Heck, I think materials costs would at worst be a wash if Toyota or Honda have to source some key components from Japan, which is sensitive to the Yen/Dollar exchange rate. And petroleum based plastics affect all vehicle manufacturers.

  • avatar
    chanman

    I had the misfortune of being assigned one from the Alamo rental fleet. (Comparable model to the G6 they had on the brochure)

    Rubbery steering, anemic acceleration, shuddered under breaking, and non-existant rear vision. The entire rear windscreen from trunklid to roof easily fit into the rear mirror, even without the visibility-impairing aid of the trunklid spoiler.

    And the icing had to be the C-pillars and the SUV-hiding blind spots that they create. I nearly merged into some leadfoot on the 401 that squirted into the null visibility zone by the onramp.


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