By on April 26, 2013

How much car can you get in this country for sixteen thousand bucks? Well, you could try a base-model Elantra, or with a bit of sharp dealing you might come up with a Sentra. TrueCar thinks you might be able to sneak into a Cruze LS. Certainly you could get a Ford Focus, which might be the best choice if you can shift for yourself or you trust the PowerShift double-clutcher.

How about something a little bigger and more powerful? Would you be interested? What if I told you it wasn’t all that bad on a racetrack? What if you’re a subprime buyer?

With the current group of incentives, it’s possible to get a 2013 Avenger SE like the nearly-new one I rented last week for about sixteen grand. The bad news is that you don’t really want an Avenger SE. You want an Avenger SE V6 For an extra $2100 or so, you get alloy wheels and a six-speed transmission with AutoStick manumatic control to replace the prehistoric four-cogger. Oh, and there’s the minor matter of a Pentastar V-6, which enables the Avenger to crank out fourteen-second quarter-mile times at will.

Unfortunately for me, nobody wanted to rent me an Avenger SE V6 for a little trip I had to take to GingerMan Raceway last week. (If you’re curious as to what I was driving at GingerMan, you’ll need to click here.) In fact, they didn’t even want to rent me an Avenger SE. They wanted to rent me a Corolla. I had to beg and plead and cajole to get the Avenger. I did this because the Corolla is about my least favorite rental car ever. Compared to the Corolla, the Avenger is a Viper.

Well, maybe it’s not a Viper. But neither is it a Fleetwood Talisman. In fact, the Avenger is closer size-wise to the Corolla than it is to the Camry. Mitsubishi and Chrysler failed to correctly predict the Cretaceous explosion in mid-sized cars — or maybe they did but figured the LX cars would cover the high end. Either way, the Avenger is positively tidy in the modern context. Visibility’s decent all the way around despite the face-down-ass-up proportions stolen from the last-generation Charger. There’s a noticeable amount of extra space both front and rear compared to the compact cars but it’s not even Altima-sized inside.

I’m repeatedly told all over the Internet that the Avenger and 200 have a horrifyingly cheap interior despite the recent round of revisions. I’m not sure about that. The plastic’s about the same as what you get everywhere else (with the possible exception of the Cruze) and there’s a fair amount of actual metal trim which has to be a unique selling point at this price. If you can compare this to, say, a Mazda3 Grand Touring, which costs three grand more before incentives, and say there’s any real difference in materials quality or assembly, I congratulate you on your ability to perceive a difference that is nonexistent to me.

The seats, on the other hand, immediately impressed me as being positively medieval and after fifty miles I had a sore back. I’m used to knocking out five or six hundred miles before back pain sets in so this was an unpleasant surprise. I never got comfortable in the Avenger’s seats and no amount of adjustment helped. I recall quite enjoying the seats in the Chrysler 200, so make sure you try both cars if you’re thinking about buying either. There’s a difference there.

Luckily for me this was one of my shorter rental trips, with barely 315 miles between my front door and the registration tower at GingerMan. With temperatures swinging between 22 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, every moment I spent driving an open-cockpit car was pretty miserable. I wanted to take a few friends out on the racetrack and thought about taking the Avenger. Naturally, my rental contract prevented doing something irresponsible like that. But as I was looking through the glovebox to find my rental contract just to make sure it prevented something irresponsible like that, a handwritten note fell out. This is what it said,

Dear Avenger Driver,

To save you the trouble of violating your rental contract to take this Avenger around the track, I’ve done it for you and taken some basic notes on how the car behaved.

First, the power. It’s not bad, really, and with just 3400 pounds to move it’s no trouble to hit 90mph on Gingerman’s back straight. What a shame there’s no AutoStick in this model! But the transmission won’t catch you out. Just hit the throttle a half-second before you know you’ll need it, because the four-speed will shift up a gear under hard braking and kind of loaf in the mid-corner.

Handling is remarkably neutral and the rear end can be manipulated with light trail braking. With the traction control turned off, the nose doesn’t push too badly. With better brake pads it would be suited to 20-lap runs. As it is, the pedal gets a little hard after five laps or so.

Steering isn’t terribly responsive but it’s honest and you’d be able to place the Avenger within a few inches of your desired apex. Body roll’s pretty good! A lot of so-called sporty German sedans roll more than the Avenger does.

The Avenger’s easily capable of catching mid-pack LeMons racers. They don’t like it when you do this. In fact, you’ll be able to pull the 944 that’s out there in the straights and hang with it in the corners. It’s far from an utterly hopeless track car. With decent tires it might surprise you. I bet the V-6 AutoStick is a corker. Thanks for reading.

Well, that was convenient. My drive home reaffirmed my hatred of the seats but after a long day in an unmuffled open car I appreciated the relatively quiet Avenger interior. It would be nice to have a little more clarity and power in the stereo; really, I think Ford still has the edge, no pun intended, in base sound systems. Not that you could even touch a Fusion for this kind of cash.

I wouldn’t buy this Avenger for the simple reason that a V-6 Chrysler 200 is far, far more satisfying and it doesn’t cost much more. As a way to carry four full-sized adults with reasonable pace and economy for a rock-bottom price, however, this humble Dodge is tough to beat. The buyers for the 2013 Avenger may be subprime, but the Avenger itself is pretty okay.

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111 Comments on “Review: 2013 Dodge Avenger SE...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    And Jack further verifies that it is pretty hard to find a truly BAD new car in the world we live in. If it wasn’t for the tiny trunk, I’d give the Avenger/200 greater consideration. Especially given that I see so many with dual exhaust pipes to indicate the V6.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Thanks to the combination of market demand and government regulations, it’s impossible to buy an actual “bad” car in America today.

      Today, in America, there are no underpowered suicide machines, no flimsy death traps and no unreliable pieces of shit being sold by ANY manufacturer.

      The fact that the 200 and Avenger are considered bottom-end is proof of that. These cars are only “subpar” compared to their contemporaries.

      When placed next to almost every vehicle manufactured since cars were invented, they’re fuel efficient, powerful, easy to drive, fast, agile, quick, well-built and exceedingly reliable.

      Perspective. Don’t leave home without it.

      • 0 avatar
        Easton

        My wife is always commenting on how much more solid and reliable cars were in the 1950′s and 1960′s. And then I showed her the (somewhat) infamous crash test between a 1959 Bel Air and a 2009 Malibu (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joMK1WZjP7g) and promptly shut down her argument, also pointing out the average lifespan for a car back then was a meager 7 years. Today, people are financing cars for that long.

        Hands down, cars are better today than ever before.

        • 0 avatar
          727

          @Easton,

          The 59 Chev was known to be a weak car back then.

          Try a 59 Chrysler Imperial vs a 09 Chev,that would leave the 09 in pieces.Those were even banned from demo derby’s back in the 70′s.

          Also Chrysler vehicles had sub frames,making them stronger,especially in the 60′s-70′s.Remove the fenders and its a frame/support around the engine ,like a new car.On a GM remove the fenders and nothing is there !

          I wrapped my 68 Charger around a pole head on,at high speed and walked away,the car was not even that bad.Many people crashed at that same local since and at lesser speeds on newer cars,they are more damaged.

          Old cars were more reliable,less maint needed,once you changed the points/or changed to electronic ignition.No timing belts,never had a head gasket issue,waterpumps never failed until 130,000 plus miles and front ends lasted forever.

          People thought they were not as good because they had a 5 digit odometer,after 99,999 they went back to 0.

          Thats why at auctions there are so many 20,000 mile restored cars,in fact those have 320,000 or more miles.My 68 Charger with a 383 4bbl had 280,000 original miles all documented by the orig owner(I put on 30,000 of those in 2 years in 1984)I since bought a 69 Charger R/T and in 25 years I put on 200,000 miles,I went through the car when I got it and it is trouble free today.Only issue was in 03 ,I redid the wiring engine runs mid 12;s in the 1/4 and runs perfect,no noise like a modern car,no lifter/valve noice,lift the hood and it just rumbles,no clicking/ticking ect..

      • 0 avatar
        Buckshot

        The 200 and the Avenger are indeed the bottom of the barrel. I was told they sold the Avenger in my country, but i have never seen one. Those cars are on par with chinese cars.

        • 0 avatar
          StaysCrunchy

          So you’ve never actually even seen one in person, but you’re prepared to call them bottom-of-the-barrel and negatively compare them to Chinese cars anyway. Makes sense to me…

          • 0 avatar
            jz78817

            too many people crown themselves “experts” for doing nothing but watching Top Gear and reading car blogs.

          • 0 avatar
            Buckshot

            “So you’ve never actually even seen one in person, but you’re prepared to call them bottom-of-the-barrel and negatively compare them to Chinese cars anyway. Makes sense to me…”

            You don´t have to see them irl to understand that they are piss poor vehicles, you just need an internet connection.

      • 0 avatar
        TorontoSkeptic

        “Perspective. Don’t leave home without it.”

        Exactly, my only experience with this car was last Christmas. My uncle came to town and got an Avenger as a rental. He lives in NYC, doesn’t have kids and therefore doesn’t own a car. From his non-driver’s perspective, the Avenger was great. Especially since there was a foot of snow so he wasn’t exactly testing the limits of speed or cornering. For a non-car person this is far from a shockingly bad car.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      It’s encouraging that even a bottom feeding brand’s oldest and most downscale car hits on pretty much all of of the mechanical aspects.

      It’s just as discouraging that a mature industry that absolutely nails the complex engineering problems can simultaneously miss the most basic things a car is for like an adequate trunk and seats that don’t give you a backache.

    • 0 avatar
      Tom_M

      I’ve often thought that for those coming back into the new car market after 8 to 10 years, even a “bad” car like the 200 or impala is actually pretty good. If you don’t drive the fusion or 6, you really don’t know what you’re missing. Literally. My wife was perfectly content with her 2004 sonata and found a new corolla to be just fine for her. Perspective people. Perspective.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Baruth does the best job I’ve ever seen of answering the question:
    “What does this hardware actually do?”
    versus:
    “What will snobs think of me if I buy it?”

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Few writers answer the former because so many buyers really want to know the latter.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        Compare the audience of MotorWeek to Top Gear. My local PBS station used to air an English translation of Auto Motor and Sport that I kind of miss. It was even more focused on raw information without any real effort to entertain.

        But cars in most of the world are all about emotion, as are most items above the subsistence level.

        • 0 avatar
          Ltd783

          We had the same thing, a local station aired Deutsche Welle (German PBS more or less) late at night, randomly in German, randomly in English, I’d watch Auto Motor und Sport in either language despite not understanding a word of the German.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The Pentastar 200 is a true budget hot rod. The V6 that is quick in the minivan is a tire burner in the 8-900lb lighter 200. The handling is actually pretty responsive, my only concern was with the torque steer which requires some negotiating with the wheel.

    For the price of these things, they’re definitely worth considering. Unless you wouldn’t dare to be seen in a Chrysler. In that case, there are other more expensive cars available with similar performance.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      “The V6 that is quick in the minivan”

      Especially when you don’t intend it to be… accelerator response needs some refinement.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        A lot of that is likely due to the transmission shift logic. There are update flashes out to correct much of it.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          Thanks…. it’s actually my son’s Caravan so I’ll tell him.

          That would never have occurred to me since for most of my driving life the shift logic module was between my ears.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            No problem. I’ve also found that driving with the “Eco” button on, the transmission is exceedingly lazy to move out of high gear.

            I didn’t really notice an improvement in fuel economy driving with it on vs off either.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Jack is writing notes to himself and leaving them in rental cars. Get this man some help! haha

  • avatar
    LKre

    I don’t care about Dodge Avenger but I found a handwritten note (in my own handwriting) that I do not remember writing.

    “Dear TTAC: Please try to find cash to pay Mr. Baruth to review cars on a more regular/professional basis, and not just those he happens to rent. In the past several months, your car reviews have been trending toward Autoblog’s or Motor Trend’s style. That’s not good, you site may die.”

    Why would I even write something like that, I have no idea. I am a loyal daily reader, and am not planning to change the habit regardless of TTAC’s pool of reviewers. What a weird handwritten note I unconsciously wrote.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      Heh… wait till a CPAP machine gives you real sleep again.
      Your subconscious has been leaving messages for you all these years and they’re still on the server.

      • 0 avatar

        Apnea is no joke. Somehow I ended up with severe apnea despite a healthy BMI. Glad I can sleep normally again.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          @Derek
          No joke at all… religious use of my CPAP has changed my life. Previously I adhered to the motto “You can sleep when you’re dead” and it almost got me that way.

          But at 56 (when I began use) suddenly restored deep sleep *does* provide some interesting dreams.

          • 0 avatar
            cargogh

            I get a little envious of those who can take a nap and find it actually regenerative. Unless I’m hooked up, sleeping is a waste of time health wise.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I agree with this. Jack is a top-tier wordsmith who provides a perspective of far greater originality and honesty than those poseur “enthusiasts” over at Car & Driver, or celebrity-status Dan Neil who gets so lost & absorbed in his analogies and references that he forgets to discuss the damn car.

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        I don’t get the Car and Driver bashing. I could have sworn he got a job with them. The writing level is very high over there. If you read carefully what they write about the cars in the review – I find them pretty spot on. Not that I agree with all their recommendations but their little observations are accurate.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          +1. I do agree. Their car reviews are generally better than those published here, and contain many wry little gems of info, plus consistent testing and specifications. Mind you, Alterman spends too much time gazing at himself in the mirror telling himself he’s wonderful, invents useless graphics and can’t write, but the journeymen are fine except for Zoellter.

          C/D is where I found out that Fords have bad fit and finish, went looking, and yup, well whaddya know. Escape dashboards not centered, Foci with poor panel fit over a year after the intro. Then finally CR started speaking up. Put me off looking at a Fusion AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      I for one like rental-car reviews. Rental car reviews are more relevant to my real world than the latest exotic whatever.

  • avatar
    Sky_Render

    I bought a 2008 Avenger R/T V6 brand new. My ex-wife took it when she disappeared.

    I miss that little Dodge. It wasn’t a bad car at all.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Having just lived with a Chrysler 200 rental for three days, same specs (four cylinder, four speed auto), I find Mr. Baruth’s comments regarding the seating definitely on. I also found my Chrysler (which I assume was the identical car, rented thru Enterprise) a very pleasurable surprise.

    I think we can finally quit slagging the Avenger/200. Its well risen above the previous Sebring. Of course we won’t quit slagging it, that’s too much fun and shows what informed, politically correct auto bloggers we are.

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      I dunno. A car that can’t be driven for 50 miles before the seats cause extreme back discomfort probably deserves to be slagged hard. That’s unacceptable.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Yeah, but doesn’t Jack have a few easily-aggravated back injuries?

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        we’re not all shaped the same, you know. I’ve driven cars where people who have raved about the “awesome seat” and found them extremely uncomfortable after only 20 minutes or so.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          jz, true. We had a fleet Taurus with lumbar adjustment. I set the lumbar for me (5’11″, 155lbs.) and drove it on a 4 hour round trip. My boss used it a few days later (6’2″ and 250lbs) and didn’t know there was a lumbar adjust on it, damn near killed him. There was also 30 years difference in our ages.

        • 0 avatar
          CompWizrd

          I test drove a ’10 Civic and had mild back pain within 10 minutes.. yet they are/were the #1 selling car in Canada so clearly they’re doing something right.. I love the seats in my Fit, yet my wife finds them uncomfortable(we both hated the Civic)

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      As long as Lincoln’s around, we’ll always have a punching bag. So I’m fine with cutting the twins some slack.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I sat in the back of an Avenger for about 15 minutes, on a ride to a bowling alley. I’m 6 feet tall and slim, and I felt really cramped. Headroom was lacking, made worse by the “enclosed by cave” feel of the rear doors’ sweeping beltline. As well, the horrible DLO plastic triangle on the rear door – is covered by a horrible plastic triangle on the interior as well. I stared at that triangle and the terribly cheap looking/feeling door handles during my ride. They were the only details in the back to speak of.

    • 0 avatar
      StaysCrunchy

      That’s surprising to hear. I’m 6′ 7″ and I found the back seat of the Avenger to be quite accommodating actually, so much so that I specifically remember it to this day as opposed to any other cars I’ve ridden in and since forgotten about. Personally I liked the inside view with that upswept beltline and triangle, felt kinda “cozy” to me actually.

      I’m not disputing your claim, everyone’s different after all, but in my opinion the back seat of the Avenger isn’t all that bad of place to be.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Maybe I was sitting too close to the door or something. I just felt like I couldn’t see anything except door triangle.

        • 0 avatar
          StaysCrunchy

          Oh I agree completely, I’m sure you were sitting where I was sitting and you’re absolutely correct that all you can see is that wall of plastic, but it felt kinda cozy to me. More private, like I wasn’t in a fishbowl on display for the world to see.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Crunchy, interior comfort has to be the most subjective part of a car. I can’t believe how polarized people can be about interior comfort. Certain cars I find to be very comfy, and others (often of similar size and weight) can’t stand it, and vice versa.

        I just chalk it up to everyone’s different. Although I did have someone try and convince me that the seats in the 300M were awful and uncomfortable. That’s just heresy.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          I loved my 300M seats. I will say that they still don’t hold a candle to the magnificent thrones in my Merkur Scorpio. Best seats I’ve ever sat in – no question about it.

    • 0 avatar
      chiefmonkey

      I share your disgust with plastic triangles-Whether it’s the Avenger, Chrysler 200, or Chevy Cruze, they completely ruin otherwise fluid, mostly competent designs.

    • 0 avatar
      oldfatandrich

      Mao admonished the people to avoid ugliness, so don’t look at door handles or other ornamentation which might upset you. While I have you on the line, were the benches at the bowling alley comfortable ? And how many strikes did you roll ?

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      My only experience with an Avenger was painful. I was in the backseat, the middleseat – designed for people with no legs – no less and was between my rather hefty friend and his not quite so hefty brother. The only way I was able to remain steady and not allow myself to get smashed was by clinging for dear life to the oh s#!7 bars.

      I can’t blame the car, but I often wonder what point there is in trying to get 3 seats in the back of any car. They’re not very useful at all, unless everybody is sans lower extremities.

  • avatar

    Chrysler really pulled off a few minor miracles with their interior refreshes and chassis tuning, and the Pentastar is a great motor.

    I’ve got the T&C minivan, and it’s a pretty nice ride overall. I was recently reminded how far they’ve come when I had it in for service and the dealership gave me a 2010 (2009?) Avenger. The old interior was indeed horrible, the engine performance somewhere near nonexsitent, ride was bad, seats were bad, but the paint was a nice color. That was a car I wouldn’t inflict on anybody.

    I was traumatized enough by that car that I would probably steer clear of the Avenger. But I’m pretty fond of the Charger/300 with the V6 and 8-speed auto. There’s some really good and interesting stuff coming from Chrysler these days, which a great change.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    And this is one of the reasons i’ll never buy a former rental car. That, and the way i treated cars that i rented.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Our rental Avenger in Florida last fall wasn’t all that bad, just too plain-Jane for my liking. Although it was good enough as a rental, it didn’t make as many points as previous Kia Fortes, but I wouldn’t buy either one if I had a choice.

    The 200 IS a much better car if you can accept the looks of that greenhouse…

  • avatar
    thornmark

    >>In fact, the Avenger is closer size-wise to the Corolla than it is to the Camry.<<
    http://www.kbb.com/compare-cars/specs/2013-honda-accord-381787-vs-2013-dodge-avenger-378558-vs-2013-toyota-corolla-381412-vs-2013-toyota-camry-382985/?ghostid=382052

  • avatar
    JMII

    I was sitting behind one these in traffic yesterday and though the owner (renter?) had dropped something really heavy on the trunk. It has these two strange “dents” that bend downward on each end, making the mid section of the flat deck lid lower. You can see this in the rear end photo provided, but in person it looks much worst.

    Also I think there is a typo in the handwritten note… it claims the brakes get “hard” I’m sure he (the other renter) meant “soft”.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Fluid fade makes the pedal feel soft, as compressible air bubbles form in the brake lines. Pad fade makes the pedal feel hard, as the firmness of the pedal stays the same, but the overheated pads’ coefficient of friction goes to hell resulting in less deceleration for the same force through the pedal.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    this is the 2nd most awful car i have ever driven. #1, a 2012 Corrola ….

  • avatar
    philadlj

    The Avenger and 200 LOOK compact in photos compared to the competition, but in reality, it’s midpack, dimensions-wise.

    The numbers show it’s closer to the Camry than the Corolla. If its trunk wasn’t so stubby, it would be right around the top.

    Surprisingly, the ‘bu is the widest car in the segment and third-longest, but it doesn’t translate to competitive rear legroom.

    To my eye, the Accord LOOKS the biggest, both in photos and in real life, but the Malibu is about the same size and the Fusion and Passat are bigger.

    L/W/H in inches

    Fusion: 191.7/72.9/58.1
    Passat: 191.7/72.2/58.0
    Accord: 191.4/72.8/57.7
    Malibu: 191.3/73.0/57.6
    Altima: 191.3/72.0/57.9
    Mazda6: 190.9/72.4/57.1
    Avenger: 190.9/71.8/58.9
    Optima: 190.7/72.2/57.3
    Sonata: 189.8/72.2/57.9
    Camry: 189.2/71.7/57.9
    Corolla: 180.0/69.3/57.7

  • avatar
    Dave56

    Interesting review as always, thanks. but I would really like to know more about the 818 kit car. That looks interesting.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I agree that today’s cars are for the most part longer lasting and more reliable and run much better. Now if only we could get some width back to the bodies so 3 people can actually sit across from each other without feeling cramped, some seats that aren’t like sitting on concrete park benches, legroom like the 60′s compacts used to have, color back in the interiors and some less plain and boring cookie cutter exteriors now we would be getting somewhere. The Avenger/200 fail several of these tests, especially the width that finds my right leg smashed up against the floor console and the left touching the door, the lack of interior color choices with literally every one of these cars fitted with a black interior and the seats that lack comfort. The trunk is also rather small giving me the impression that this is really more of a compact than a mid size car in the real world.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    what do you want for 16-18.5K?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Something more interesting, used.

      Or a new FIAT 500, which even in base form makes me smile just looking at one. I don’t care how fast it is for the money, nothing about an Avenger makes me smile. More like go back to the rental counter and see what else they have.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        I would rather have the 200 or Avenger than the turdlike 500. I drove one last week, and was honestly embarrassed doing it. The thing reeks of ugly girly penalty car.

        • 0 avatar
          blppt

          Agree 100%. My current Honda Fit is far from a masculine vehicle, but the 500 makes it look like a Camaro. Plus, I cant stand the interior design with the silly oversized gauges (like the Mini Cooper).

          I may be in the minority, but when I look down to see RPM or MPH, I’d prefer to not be looking at what looks like a child’s toy. Bleh.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        To each his own. There is nothing penalty-like or girly about my Abarth. It’s first autocross is tomorrow, time to attack some cones!

  • avatar
    ajla

    The 2008 Avenger SE I had as a rental once was so bad I would have rather driven a Caliber. It was like Chrysler re-bodied a ’90 Dynasty out of a You-pull-it yard.

    So there must have been some major improvements.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Yeah. The one and only Avenger I ever rented — can’t remember the year, but it was before the refresh — was far and away the worst car I have ever gotten from a rental company. Given that I’ve rented around 150 cars in the past 7-8 years, that is a distinction of some note. It felt positively unstable going around banked interstate turns at 55mph.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    Nice review, Jack.

    The pre-refresh Chrysler Sebring was BY FAR the worst excuse for a modern car I’ve ever driven. Indescribably awful in every way. It was as if nobody who had a hand in developing that piece of excrement had ever driven a car made after about 1973!

    So when I was recently given a 200 as a rental, I quietly cursed all the way to the rental-lot exit. Then, during the course of a week with the car, I found out that it was exactly as Jack describes – not bad at all.

    The Avenger/200 refresh qualifies as one of the more astounding I’ve ever experienced.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      poke around on the Allpar forums, you’ll find some posts discussing what a disaster the development process was for the Avenger/Sebring. Cliff’s notes: originally supposed to share the Mitsu GS platform, which fell through after Dumbler’s failed takeover of Mitsubishi Motors. Development basically had to “reset” halfway through, oh, and they also had the brilliant idea of changing the CAD system at the same time. This was also after Bernhard’s edict to take 40% of the cost out of Chrysler Car Group interiors (which weren’t all that hot even before the Avenger/Sebring.) I can state with certainty that none of the engineers or designers were happy with the state of things that led to what was launched in 2007. It was a complete failure (some would say “malicious”) of management.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Good tidbits indeed. I can add one, I worked in CAD in 2006 and there were two big industry changes at the time:

        -In 2004, Bentley released MicroStation V8 which was a big migration from circa 2000 MicroStation J (J became to them what Windows XP is now to IT people, it worked).

        -In mid/late 2006 Autodesk released AutoCAD 2007 which contained a big change in the file format in order to screw MicroStation users, as MicroStation V8 could read its own DGN files and AutoCADs DWG file formats (imagine if Microsoft products could work with Apple IP).

        I would guess based on the timing, Chrysler was a MicroStation shop who got caught in the V8 migration period. The cars would/should have been ready by 2006 in order to be released as early MY 2007s.

        /geek off

        • 0 avatar
          jz78817

          CATIA. v4->v5 was a big tear-up.

        • 0 avatar
          kjb911

          I do graphic design and print production for a living using Adobe Creative Suite CS6 at home and CS3 at work…hate when something I inadvertently work at home is transferred to work (usually an illustrator file that I forget to make a compatible setting with) and come out looking nothing like what I did the night before…

      • 0 avatar
        StaysCrunchy

        This is all very interesting to me. I always wonder what goes on behind the scenes of a product’s development that causes it to come out one way or the other. When a car so universally reviled as the Sebring hits showrooms, you cant help but wonder how it possibly made it past the hundreds upon hundreds of people involved in the development and manufacture, and not a single one of them said “Ummm… hey guys?” I always figure there’s more to the story, it’s good to hear it sometimes.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I agree and yet we have things like this, Pontiac Aztek, Dodge Caliber, Nissan Juke, and the new Nissan Quest van.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            At least with most of those, you can imagine someone saying “oh, it’s just too radical, people will get used to it.”

            I don’t think anyone has ever made that claim about the Sebring/Avenger.

  • avatar
    4LiterLexus

    I’m surprised that the Avenger handles as well as it does. At the same time, handling wouldn’t be my priority if I were buying a car in this segment. Interior quality, styling, resale value, and projected reliability: those would be my priorities. By those measures, this is a seriously inferior car even though you can buy a new SE for $16k or less.

  • avatar

    Coulda sworn you can get a Pentastar + 6MT in the Avenger in RT trim or something.
    (too lazy to go searching right now)

    There’s a future forgotten muscle car if ever there was one.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It would be interesting if it were true, but there hasn’t been a manual cog swapper available in an Avenger since it was an Eclipse.

    • 0 avatar
      kjb911

      you might be referring to the wikipedia picture that clearly shows a manual transmission on a first gen interior with the caption “2007 Dodge Avenger Diesel with manual Six-Speed-Trans” my guess is those were offered when dodge was still offered in the UK. The official transmissions listed are

      4-speed Ultradrive 40TES automatic
      4-speed Ultradrive41TES automatic
      6-speed Ultradrive 62TE automatic
      6-speed Getrag Mps6 DCT automatic

      pic of manual: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dodge_Avenger_Dash.jpg

      but that of course is Wikipedia so i never take it for more than face value

      I do love under the future section though: Marchionne has so far confirmed that the Avenger would get a second generation by 2014, however it will be based on the upcoming Alfa Romeo 169 mid-size sedan with features deriving from both Fiat and the current generation model. It might keep the “Avenger” nameplate, which so far remains unconfirmed.[16][17]
      On 25 March 2013 it was revealed that the second generation Alfa Romeo based mid-size sedan will be sold as a Fiat in Europe starting 2015, and will obtain a “Volare” nameplate. Which could mean that the American variant would be nameplated “Aspen”, seeing as it was the second name for the original Dodge Aspen.

    • 0 avatar
      potatobreath

      The Europeans get the manual transmission with the diesel. They still get the 2.4 World Engine with the slushbox.

      I think they should really offer a manual transmission option to go with the spoiler.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I had one for a rental a couple of months ago and I didn’t think it bad at all. Just can’t warm up to that 3/4 scale Charger styling which just does not work.

  • avatar
    majo8

    Were you at Gingerman for the Friday practice session? I was there participating in the LeMons race, and didn’t see the Factory Five car ( I did see a couple of new Camaros testing ). Would’ve loved to seen it on the track.

    It was awfully cold that day. Must’ve been more so in a convertible….

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Why don’t make a hot rod avenger R/T? Tighten up the steering and suspension, squeeze more horses out of the Pentastar, add stripes and call it a day?

  • avatar
    Onus

    I was in the older model a 2010 right before the refresh. I told the person they should have waited a few more months for the refresh.

    Seemed okay with my 6’2″ self in the back. Inside doesn’t seem as cheap even on those in person.

    The new model is a huge step up though. I’ll be on the lookout for it or the 200 with the v6 used.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    just had an Avenger SE V6 as a loaner while getting my Jeep serviced. The acceleration from the Pentastar engine was a suprise. Not a surprise – given the price point of this vehicle – was the unintended-lane-change-amount of torque steer.

    With a liitle help from the parking brake, I was able to pull off a 100 ft long burnouts..

  • avatar
    MLS

    Nice review, but surely the 200 and Avenger use the same seats?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Might be the adjustments. I’ve driven an Equinox and a Torrent of the same generation and the Torrent was easier to live with because of the lumbar adjustment. Base Equinoxes did not have lumbar adjustment.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        After posting, I guessed that the 200 was probably equipped with power-adjustable seats and the Avenger not. As it turns out, an eight-way power driver’s seat is standard on the mid-level 200 trim (Touring), whereas Dodge reserves that feature for the top Avenger trim (R/T). Both seat types feature manual lumbar adjustment.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I seriously question the build quality of these, I’ve driven a rental ’13 Avenger and almost none of the exterior body panels lined up, even the rear passenger doors didn’t fit quite right, the gas lid looked like it had sunk into the car.

    The rest of the car was average really, not bad and it was nice to see an interior not from the 90′s (grey and swoopy), too bad it had some bad blind spots done by the designers thing for sunglasses.

    It was really just a mediocre car I thought, not bad but a bit stupid in some ways, at least the gas pedal had some response to it unlike the newer Corolla I drove before it.

    Given $16k I’d skip the Avenger and go for a lightly used Charger.

  • avatar
    stevejac

    Like many others, I find the car is much improved. I rented one in Hawaii 3 yrs ago and it was surely the worst car I’d ever driven. The battery on the remote died and rather than replacing the battery, they replaced the car — with a Sentra. This was about ’09 or ’10. The sentra was a lesser car according to the rental company, but a much nicer ride.

    A few weeks ago I rented an updated Avenger 4cyl, 4spd at in Houston. The difference was night and day. I’d say it’s better than the Malabu or Impalla I usually get but not as good as the Altima I rented once.

    On the avenger, it isn’t just the interior that’s improved, but the whole car is much better. I still wouldn’t want to drive one all day, but there are worse fates…

  • avatar
    drksd4848

    Jack,

    Thanks for taking the high road (no pun) and reviewing this car honestly, because the Avenger is way better than many spineless auto-journos would like to admit.

    Whenever these cowardly, sniveling, lower than earthworm, idiots with keyboards… er, I mean auto journalists have low blood sugar, they like to drag out the Avenger to piss on it, writing stuff that mostly isn’t true.

    So, thank you again. If ever you’re in the NYC area, you can take my 2012 Avenger R/T out for a spin anytime. Just contact me.

    And the seats are better in the R/T too.

  • avatar
    gear-dog

    Thanks, as luck would have it I one of these as a rental in my driveway now. It really helps me calibrate Jacks reviews of cars I will never drive to have a back to back with the car I drove today. Perhaps all serious auto jurnos should be required to review the odd rental car from time to time just so we can all have a common reference.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    I don’t think you guys actually READ auto journalists reviews. The hate for the avenger is just not there. I read car and driver every month – and go to their website..

    Sorry but this idea that only Jack is telling like it is is just not true.

    From a recent car and driver review:

    The words “sports sedan” are a stretch here. But the Avenger Heat is certainly competent by contemporary standards, a family sedan with respectable crash-avoidance credentials—as well as respectable family-sedan ride quality. Allied with the latter, extensive sound-deadening work pays off with exceptionally quiet highway operation, a major comfort component.

    They generally liked the refreshed car and thought it was a pretty sweet deal with the V-6. Its nice that people like the blog – but Car and Driver is still a pretty nice mag..

    • 0 avatar
      drksd4848

      Oh I read them… The tone and tenor of all the reviews I have read (including that one you quote) has been, “OK, FINE, I guess it’s good… But I’m still not buying that damn thing. Leave it for the rental car companies”

      You will also find many quips come parenthetically, in other auto news referring to Chrysler.

      But one “positive review” I’ve read said something that FLOORED me. It came from Christian Wardlaw of Autobytel

      “At the risk of losing all credibility, I’m going to say that the 2013 Dodge Avenger R/T is unexpectedly good to drive. It is fast, it is quiet, it is reasonably fuel efficient, and it is remarkably capable given its age and humble origins.”

      REALLY?!

      “AT THE RISK OF LOSING ALL CREDIBILITY”?

      SERIOUSLY?

      No… seriously?

      How about losing the first sentence of that paragraph and just say it’s good to drive. I know credibility for the auto hacks is a big deal, but c’mon.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    Jack, I was thinking about this article this afternoon when there was a 200 on my right at the red light.

    The pavement was dry, but when the light turned green,the driver spun the tires for about 5′. The look of shock and awe on his face meant it was an accident. I gave him a thumbs up. It had dual exhausts.

  • avatar
    Mcray

    Jack, I’m having trouble uderstanding what exactly you meant when you said the avenger is closer in size to the corolla than the camry. If you look at the specs, this car is quite the beast. Bigger than the corolla and the camry in all dimmensions.

  • avatar
    silverkris

    I’ve rented an Avenger 4 years ago and one last year, and I can say that there has been improvement – particularly in the interior trim – the materials seem to be better than the old one (which was really plasticky). It has decent interior room and adequate acceleration even for the base engine.

    However, the biggest minus is the constrained rear visibility around the C-pillar due to the kink in the rear doors, unfortunately that hasn’t changed.

    • 0 avatar
      drksd4848

      No question, the 2008+ had it’s issues, like that dreadful interior. But a lot of those issues can be blamed mostly on German meddling… In fact, those cars still suffer somewhat from Dumbler Bumbler Daimler and Wolfgang Slash-n-Bernhardt.

      But the blind spots, if you adjust your side-view mirrors properly, will NOT be an issue.

  • avatar
    Sob93

    Day late and a $ short but, so you evaluated a car from a rental agency and drove it 315 miles? Is this the new standard for TTAC automobile reviews. Pretty lame.

  • avatar
    Lee

    In other news, Dodge still makes the Avenger.

  • avatar
    jeffredo

    Chrysler has a 4 grand rebate on the 200. Given the desperation to move them you can get on for silly cheap. I’d rather have one of those than a Yaris or Versa for the same price.

  • avatar
    threeer

    A manager at one of the local stores here in town has a burnt metallic orange (or whatever they call that color) R/T variant of the Avenger…and dammit…I sheepishly have to admit to liking it. Too bad they didn’t see fit to drop a manual tranny in with the Pentastar. I know…I know, enthusiast drivers don’t pay the bills!
    And like others have said, I wound up with a new 200 as a rental about a year ago and cursed the Great Rental Car Gods when I was handed the keys. But after a week driving it, I was impressed that I didn’t feel the need to yiff cookies every time I got in. It was reasonably quick (4 pot, not 6), comfortable and quiet. Not sure much else would be needed for a daily commuter sled, and that’d be more than acceptable for the 90th percentile owner…

  • avatar
    Reicher

    I have a 2011 with the V6 and I wouldn’t even look at another car (except maybe the new charger). After riding in, civics, corrollas, focus, forte, elantra, and cruze, the only other one i’d consider would be the cruze (but it would need to have the turbo). I have the lumbar support and I find the seats pretty good for long 4-6 hour drives. I’ve seen a few vids where people have gotten their Avengers to go 0-60 MPH in 5.5 to 6 secs. And Its fun to smoke those that think they can take on the ‘Venge. Yes there is torque steer but it makes it feel like your in a racing car haha. And you gotta love the “Touring” suspension when you got in.
    My indian buddy (east indian for clarification) loved the car so much he bought the 4 banger version. His dad just came here to live, and the first time he drove it, his utter hatred for american cars magically disappeared. And thats from a guy who drove a huge Toyota SUV.

    I’ve been very happy with the car. I’ve done mods to it so i’ve dismantled the front end and other parts and its built beefy like the charger with an ACTUAL steel bumper. The quality is awesome and after comparing it to those at the autoshow, its just as good as the best. Besides, having almost no plastic in the interior makes other cars on the low end feel really cheap with the plastic everywhere.


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