A sports car. A luxury car. A truck. A car for third-world nations. And yet CCS never gave me a project that said, “lower your standards and design a great rental car” for a week of studio work. Does anyone design anything with unloved dispensability in mind? But I see it that way: leaving the design world to (eventually) to flash my MBA with an occasional corporate trip…with the obligatory rental car. But how pretty is the Queen?
The fleet queen that is.
Bland and chubby. The password for Dodge’s Avenger is encrypted with elements from big brother Charger, slapped on a horribly chubby and bland body. But check out the cute little negative area for the license plate. This car has some, uh, charming elements to it.
But I can’t stand the de-Ram’d grille and logos of the post-Bankruptcy Dodge. And the Corvette Grand Sport-esque twin red hashes by the Dodge emblem. It’s sad to see how Dodge and Ram are split up for some sort of impending fiscal cliff for the MOPAR folk.
Bear with me, because some of the subtle detailing on the headlights are quite significant, and maybe even worthy of duplication on superior vehicles. Note how the lower element is comprised entirely of signal/parking lights. This could almost be a German vehicle from this angle. Almost!
Back up to the lights. Note how slender and sleek the Avenger looks from here, with a gentle power dome in the hood starting from a logical place in the grille. The sunken-in headlights are clean and beautiful. I’d eliminate the hard bend in the fender to accentuate the domed hood and minimize the cut line between the hood and fender, but that’s no deal breaker. Rental car and all that.
The shadow of the stamped-in racing stripe doesn’t work for me. Perhaps if they ended near the two dots (windshield washer nozzles), but certainly not as it stands.
And here is why you will never like the Avenger: the headlights are HUGE! Only from a few angles do these things squint like the glare of an angry woman. If the front clip was the size of a Dodge Stratus, everything falls naturally into a cereal bowl of nicely proportioned Rental Car Granola. Too bad about that.
And these not-quite-split 5 spoke wheels are so vanilla that I long for the days of generic rental car hub caps. Here are plenty of hard edges with no soft contours to add excitement. The spokes’ overzealous negative area in the rim is too much, but luckily the wheel weight covers one of the offending lines. And why the chrome center cap?
Too bad about the floating, trim-less glass and the black rain gutter that ends so cheaply at the top of the windscreen. While the Avenger is perfectly quiet and comfortable at speed, this looks like a magnet for wind noise.
From the bottom cut line of the doors, you can see a little taper at the bottom of the body. It looks interesting, if not exciting. The blocky door handles don’t try to be wispy, frou-frou and flashy…and it works.
There’s nothing terribly wrong with the intended greenhouse design, if this was applied to the Dodge Charger instead. And while the Charger is far from a sleek and sexy C-pillar on a slender body, it isn’t nearly this horrifying. The hard points needed for the C-pillar/Quarter Panel/Rear Door means a ridiculously vertical cut line for the door. Add the flowing glass, round gas cap and the door’s line doesn’t flow…and it doesn’t work.
Those unbelievably timid wheels don’t help, either.
If the vanishing point for the door cut line ended about a 1/2 inch forward, there’d be some rake from this angle. And the Avenger would look better.
And while the Avenger’s rear greenhouse doesn’t have DLO fail like that of a Chevy Cruze, they had to have this big plastic filler panel…probably so the glass was the right size to roll down the door. Visualize this design with a fixed vent window instead and things don’t get much better…a solid piece of glass is necessary to give that Charger-esque look. I feel the designers didn’t have a choice here.
Then again, you can make this look beautiful. And the Avenger has some rather flowing lines. Note the gentle crease on the C-pillar near the rear window, and the strong shoulder-line from the base of the rear window that extends into the rear door. On a shorter car with a little more wheelbase, this would be absolutely stunning.
There’s a reasonable amount of tumblehome too, accentuated by the strong shoulder line mentioned above. Very cool. Everything looks even “faster” when adding the divot-and-dip of the decklid. Provided you don’t step back a foot, and remember this is a tall and dorky rental car.
There she is, in all her rental car beauty. Like mentioned before, this greenhouse would look so good with more wheelbase and MUCH less height. Again, superimpose the silhouette of the Dodge Stratus, force that on the Avenger’s design elements and you’ll find the silver lining here.
Wait, can such a silver lining exist?
Too tall and too much bumper! I also wish the tail lights had two bright circular elements per corner, to emulate the front end’s headlights. Yes, the brake lights are a happy quartet, but there’s only one pair of white pimples.
I know that computer assisted design and awesome modern plastic casting techniques make seriously complicated stuff, but the Gatling gun look in automotive lighting pods must die a painful death…perhaps with Gatling guns?
Unlike the last gen Toyota Camry, these emblems look rather fantastic up close: providing contrast to the corners/edges/bends in the white paint, but they are otherwise lost on a gigantic ass when you step back. Too bad about that.
Something about the manual release gas cap finger divot is both cheap and cheerful at the same time. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done for not much cash. Kind of like IKEA, but without the insane assembly time and those carts that won’t go all the way to your vehicle’s butt in the loading zone.
Thank you for reading, I hope you have a fantastic week!