By on August 9, 2013

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I had dinner recently with TTAC’s enfant terrible, Doug Demuro, something we do every few weeks as our respective schedules permit.  Predictably, our pre-, mid- and post-prandial conversation revolved around our shared passion for automobiles, as well as the people who read and write about them.  At one point I made a hasty proclamation, which was in retrospect unwise given my audience: “Doug, I really don’t think any manufacturers are making objectively bad cars right now.”  Doug paused and replied: “My friend, have you ever heard of Chrys-ler?,” enunciating the last pair of syllables as if speaking to an alien.  He continued, “check out the 200 if you have a chance.”

As (bad) luck would have it, I found myself at the local Porsche dealer not long ago, eager to trade my hard-earned dollars in exchange for renewed braking capabilities for my car.  As always, they were bereft of loaner cars, but they promised to provide me with an Enterprise rental car.  After leaving my 911 at its home-away-from-home – I am legitimately on a first name basis with the majority of the service department at my local Porsche emporium – I rode with the Enterprise lady (they really did pick me up!) to their nearby lot.  I was confronted with two options – a ubiquitous Ford F-150 or a 2013 Dodge Avenger.  Mindful that the Avenger is the ostensibly edgier stablemate of the aforementioned Chrysler 200, as well as some recent accolades directed at the sub-prime striver’s car of choice I chose the Dodge.  After the perfunctory walk-around and paperwork, I was on my way.

Truth be told, I was a little excited to try out the Dodge.  Walter P. Chrysler’s namesake company has endured ups and downs and a variety of masters and bedfellows throughout its nearly 90-year history.  Like anyone who would name a car after himself, or commission an iconic, Art Deco Manhattan skyscraper with the same nomenclature, the eponym obviously took great pride in his body of work, the representation of his endeavors.  The company endured after his passing, but fell on hard times by the late 1970s, with newly hired executive Lee Iacocca approaching Congress for a bailout in late 1979.  After over $1 billion in backstopping, Chrysler was back on its feet in the next decade, riding the successful restructuring and the strength of its product offerings, including the minivan.  Chrysler later consorted with Daimler and ended up in the arms of private equity sponsor Cerberus after the dissolution of the uneasy union with the Germans.  The automaker suffered more misfortune courtesy of the financial crisis and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in the spring of 2009.  A curious ownership structure resulted, with Fiat and the United Auto Workers union sharing custody of the company.  In recent years we’ve seen Super Bowl sloganeering that appeals to emotion – “Imported from Detroit”, “Halftime in America”, and “God Made a Farmer” in succession – and suffered partisan bloviating and mudslinging concerning the company’s direction.

But how are the products, the cars that the company designs and manufactures with the intention of returning a profit to its owners?  I wanted to find out.

My Avenger for a few days was a 15,000 mile example that was already showing considerable wear due to its rental fleet usage.  Upon getting settled inside I was struck by the exceptionally cheap plastics that permeated the interior.  Enterprise had helpfully added an admonishment against smoking inside the car, presumably to prevent those trapped inside it from attempting self-immolation.

Avenger No Smoking

I adjusted the trio of mirrors in an attempt to enhance rearward visibility, but it was futile.  You might forgive compromised situational awareness in, say, a Lamborghini Countach, but I found this distressing in the Dodge, in particular the enormous blind spots created by the plastic cladding extending from the c-pillars.

Avenger C Pillar Inside

This design feature was apparently elected to facilitate the placement of aerodynamic addenda on the exterior, ensuring that the rear end of this front-wheel drive economy car remains planted during aggressive maneuvering.

 Avenger C Pillar Exterior

While I wasn’t able to position the rear-view mirror at any angle that afforded a reasonable view of whatever was tailgating me, I was permitted an excellent view of the rear shelf, which appeared to be upholstered in scraps that otherwise could have been used to form the coarse outer covering for a stack of Marshall amplifiers.

 Avenger Rear Shelf

I eventually composed myself and reasoned that the poor visibility could be a blessing in disguise – I couldn’t see out, but no one else would be able to see me driving the car.  I cranked the engine and returned to work.  The Avenger featured 4 cylinders and 4 forward gears, and it moaned like a dying animal when anything beyond half throttle was applied.  The transmission proved extraordinarily dimwitted, pausing for several seconds before swapping cogs, even when cruising on surface streets.  The steering wheel featured small buttons on its reverse, and I hoped that they would allow me to control gear selection, just like Doug’s Cadillac CTS-V station wagon, which was also made by a bailed-out domestic automaker.  Instead, I later found out via the world-wide web that the buttons controlled the car’s stereo, although on my car they were already broken (or never functional), as pressing them elicited no response from the Dodge.

Speaking of the steering wheel… steering feel is often discussed by car reviewers and enthusiasts, but its something that’s quite difficult to describe adequately using only words.  It depends on the complex interplay among weighting, linearity of response, and the transmission of the tires’ relationship with the tarmac back to the helm; perhaps it’s a bit like pornography, you know it when you feel it.  You also know when you don’t feel it, and the Avenger provided no feel whatsoever.  It reminded me of playing Cruis’n USA at the local arcade as a child.

Despite the record levels of rain that have plagued Atlanta this year, it still gets hot in the Dirty South during the Dog Days of summer.  I cranked up the air conditioning on my maiden voyage, but quickly noticed that it mostly provided a huffing and puffing of sound and fury, rather than serving its intended purpose, so I just rolled down the windows instead.  The Avenger’s window switches are quite interesting.  Whereas my 20th century Porsche’s switches return a precise click upon reaching their detents, the Dodge’s switches appear to be made from a Styrofoam packing peanut that was spray-painted black.  They are so flimsy that I could easily detach them from their housings using only two fingers.

 Avenger Window Switch

The passenger side window features an ironic sticker.

 Avenger Sticker

There’s no pride to be taken in any aspect of the Dodge Avenger.  There’s no pride to be taken by the taxpayers who have facilitated the continued existence of this stinker of a car.  There’s none of that pride that Walter P. Chrysler had when he put his name on his cars.  All that’s left is shame.

David Walton grew up in the North Georgia mountains before moving to Virginia to study Economics, Classics, and Natural Light at Washington and Lee University. Post-graduation, he returned to his home state to work in the financial services industry in Atlanta.  A lifelong automotive enthusiast, particular interests include (old) Porsches and sports car racing.

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271 Comments on “Rental Car Review: 2013 Dodge Avenger...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    The good news is that once they are done at Enterprise they make great cars to sell to credit challenged people. They end up being a cheap car with some warranty left over – banks love them.

    • 0 avatar
      Reicher

      Comparing a economy car for the average joe with a Porsche is….sad.

      Its amazing how people seem to dislike this car. I feel ALOT of people are stuck on imports because they had one that was a very good car. I’m not saying they aren’t good, most are very good, some not so much, but I think the domestics are just as good. This writer, IMO, probably doesn’t know how to use the mirrors.
      I own one of these and 30,000km after purchase (now at 64,000km), you couldn’t sell me anything other in this class. I know I’m a bit biased with the Avenger now, but if you sat in one and drove the pentastar with the autostick on the six speed down the highway and country back roads, you would have so much fun. The touring suspension is actually pretty good and you can noticeably feel a difference over the other style. The steering wheel layout on all the Dodge’s are perfect. Its simple, clean, easy to use, no ridiculous toggle style buttons, and the charger has even implemented paddle shifters without messing up the button layout.
      I haven’t had to bring it into the shop for repairs. One recall for a software update. I replaced my headlights with the R/T style, so I had to take the front apart. I have to say, this car built very well. The only thing I felt was “cheap” was the one piece that is above the rad is hard plastic. The other day I was backed into by someone in a Nissan Sentra. At first I was peed off but then laughed because my Avenger had a scratch and the Nissan’s bumper fell off.

      This car is a huge leap from the old style.

  • avatar
    bjchase55

    Last year I had a Dodge Avenger as a rental for a business trip from Chicago to St. Louis. The drive was mostly highway and for that it was comfortable. But the one take from that experience was it is a HUGE improvement over the previous generation I had as a rental a few years back. I used to be a big Dodge fan before the whole Daimler thing. I wouldn’t want the Avenger as my own car and it would take some doing to get me back into any Dodge.

    • 0 avatar
      bachewy

      But, Jennifer Lopez rode in one so it’s gotta be great, right?

      Actually, this article is dead on for the complaints about the car. There’s no way the 4cyl HP rating is what they claim and that tranny, ugh. My rental did get GREAT mileage, though. Comfy for the price point but all the other drawbacks are not acceptable especially compared to other cars in that range.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        That’s not a bad drive train, but the “GREAT mileage” indicates why performance was sacrificed. I suspect performance could be improved by a competent tuner. Suspensions can be tuned too, although the dead steering might be baked in.

        It also looks like the plastic triangle on the rear doors could be the site of a window panel that would improve right-rear vision, but make the car easier to break into. There’s nothing that can help the tiny rear window and high trunk.

        Having driven a rental Avenger, I can’t escape the feeling that this was a potentially competent vehicle that could have been better than the cloud car it replaced, if not for styling gimmicks and bean counters.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I realize JB did a more thorough review on the Avenger in April, but the article seems to end abruptly. I would suggest in the future in a review of this nature to “tell a story” with the material.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Agreed.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        I’m not much in favor of these “reviews” featured here lately. They’re”driving impressions” at best.

        We also get Kriendler’s take on his whim, sorry whip, of the week. Useless stuff, and the reason it’s useless is because these new “reviewers” have never given us a proper road test to peruse, unlike Dykes, McAleer, Karesh et al. There’s no repeatable structure in these impressions, no attempt to standardize format so one impression can be compared to another. Also a regular reader learns to interpret the words of a regular reviewer and can make allowances to get a reasonable idea of how the vehicle might strike them personally. These disconnected jottings? Not so much.

        This one in particular is a mess, and seems to have been written to get a few yuks at the expense of the Avenger, in a model configuration that few people here would buy if they had any memory at all of Dykes test of the 200, as someone below also mentions,

        In addition, this author’s mind is about 98% taken up with passion for his Porsche, and everything else doesn’t even register.

        If it’s light entertainment you’re after in an author, then I’d say TTAC’s mission has irrevocably changed to a somewhat rootless mindset with no focus. Just take Automaker “X” each week, and rattle on in some mindless manner about something or other, like Toyota inventories, Ford fit and Finish, GM anything, Honda losing its way, Mazda rust, Subaru head gaskets, Dodge Dart, etc. etc. That’ll bring out the usual fanboys, but it’s hardly cutting edge truth, and journalism is nowhere to be found.

        • 0 avatar

          There is a remedy for that – just skip reviews written by Derek and Walton. I myself would avoid reviews by those authors and not get involved and waste my time, avoiding something equivalent to a mental pollution.

          Even though these reviews are useless they are entertaining in the way as Water Boy or Dumb and Dumber are stupid but entertaining just by virtue of its stupidity. And biggest entertaining part are not reviews themselves per se but readers comments. Otherwise how would you get over 300 comment on something that in other serious publications would be considered as a piece belonging to the garbage can. It is a power of Internet – readers contribute more than authors. And I actually value TTAC readers more than authors – I come here more to read readers comments than articles and I think that what keeps TTAC alive. Otherwise I would just go and read something like autoblog.com which is more informative.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Get over it LIEbertarian losers, the bailouts are over and Chrysler and GM are thriving against the state socialist JapanInc cars. Many people like the Avenger, it’s a lot of car for the money, certainly not up to Porsche standards but what else is.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Based on what’s been written in the past TTAC, I’d suggest even Porsche isn’t up to Porsche standards at this point.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Bill,

      Where do you live in Buckhead?

      This is an absolutely atrocious car. I was genuinely stunned that this type of product can generate sales in 2013.

      Of course, bear in mind its legacy is pre-bailout.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        The 200/Avenger have sold 150k units so far this year. Used to live off Lenox Rd for 20 years and have moved to America’s smartest city.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Something to keep in mind is context. This would arguably be in the running for the worst car in 2013. Any yet it is far better in most ways than Malaise Era iron of near any manufacturer…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      That’s cute. Don’t ever forget that a lot of people lost a lot of money and sacrificed a lot to allow Chrysler and GM to “thrive” as they are now. Many companies went out of business or took huge hits to preserve the jobs of some line workers. Government decided that a certain business was more important than another and certain workers were more important than others, and that’s no lie.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I’m glad I wasn’t a GM bondholder or someone that worked at a sub tier-1 supplier.

        • 0 avatar
          billfrombuckhead

          Chrysler and GM are both hiring right now if you have the skills!

          • 0 avatar
            Firestorm 500

            Skills? At what?

            Drinking, smoking, and taking breaks?

          • 0 avatar
            Sob93

            This is for Firestorm 500 whom I would suggest is unemployed at the moment. As a former UAW worker I take umbrage and believe your reply was intended to insult American workers. I will never understand why so many people in this country have such resentment and vitriol towards union members. Go to your nearest automobile manufacturer and apply for a job. See how much fun you have on an assembly line running 70 cars/hr. When (if) they hire you tell them the pay is too high and you will work for minimum wage. Tell them you don’t want all those health-care and pension benefits because they interfere with your ideology. Good luck.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Sob93,

            I understood the reference (which you took so personally) to be about the Chrysler workers who were caught drinking & smoking dope on their lunch break, yet could not be fired.

            If you think it was ok what they did and that they didn’t get fired, then get used to being insulted. If you don’t, then please choose to not get your panties in a wad when others are bothered by it.

          • 0 avatar

            redav, I believe the implication was that union labor was naturally lazy, incompetent and utterly unnecessary. If you’re someone who’s seen the positives that having unions around bring (especially in terms of living wages – you know, having a wage that can actually support you and your family), then you’d have your panties in a wad, too.

            The UAW and other unions are waning in favor of non-union facilities in “right-to-work” locales. The U.S. auto industry doesn’t have those in-house unions that Japan and Germany have, either. I’d hate to see the day when the UAW and other unions vanish, as it would leave workers even more at mercy of the manufacturers.

          • 0 avatar
            Bob

            The UAW, like most unions, probably offered to help the members caught using drugs with substance abuse rehabilitation programs. A Non-union factory would have terminated these people, but the UAW it there for it’s members. Does having a substance abuse problem damn a person for life? Will he or she never be able to work on an assemble like ever again? Has anyone in your line of work ever used drugs or alcohol on a break? Did your company offer to help them overcome their addictions or just use a zero tolerance excuse to fire them?

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        The bailout saved far more jobs than it lost. Government all around the world picks winners and losers. The Koreans bailed out Hyundai and Kia for the same reason. Japan Inc buys down the yen to save autoworker jobs. If some credit de fault swap banksters lost their bets, that’s why they’re called bets. The Avenger is the best midsize new car under $20,000. If you want a better Chrysler product spend more money and get the wonderful 8 speed Charger or Grand Cherokee which people go out of their way to rent.

        Another thing is that since the bailout, GM and Chrysler have sold about 30% of new cars in US market and have kept prices down through more competition saving consumers billions.

        • 0 avatar
          cartunez

          Why do you assume that what ailed GM and Chrysler couldn’t have been cured with bankruptcy? The only people that were saved so these companies can “thrive” were the very people who should have been fired or worse. The fit n finish on most of the cars from GM are a joke.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          If the Avenger is the BEST midsize car under $20K, I shudder to even contemplate what the WORST one is! Or is this a class of one? In which case, spend the same money on something slightly smaller but enormously better, and stop buying cars by the pound!

          The car is complete and utter excrement, and should be an embarrassment to Chrysler.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Optimas start at $21,350 according to the Kia website.

            I’d rather have one than an Avenger, any day of the week, even if it cost $2k more.

            Or, for that matter, right around that price, there’s the Fusion, and the Accord, and the Galant, and the Sonata, and the Altima and the Legacy.

            You know, a bunch of cars that one might be able to see out of and have switches that don’t pop right off, and that have interior quality that isn’t total crap.

            I can only assume steering feel will be generally better, too.

            I’ll give the rental a pass on broken stereo controls on the wheel, for obvious reasons.

            (Pity; I’d been idly thinking that a Dart might be an interesting car… but looks ain’t everything, and I can’t imagine the interior’s better than the Avenger.)

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “You know, a bunch of cars that one might be able to see out of ”

            Good luck finding that in 2013.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            Frankly, most COMPACT sedans are better than the Avenger too.

        • 0 avatar
          Buckshot

          “The Avenger is the best midsize new car under $20,000″
          WHAT are you talking about??? Is it the ONLY midsize car under $20,000 in the USA?
          This is probably the worst car outside North Korea.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “The bailout saved far more jobs than it lost. Government all around the world picks winners and losers.”

          Theft is not right, no matter how many people are stealing. It’s not your, or the Government’s job to decide who gets to keep their job at whoever else’s expense.

          Some people lost their jobs and money (many through no fault of their own) to preserve the jobs of a company that had failed.

          If you’re OK with that, you’re what’s wrong with America. Of course if it only benefits you directly, and you weren’t one of the losers, why would you care? ‘Merica.

          • 0 avatar
            billfrombuckhead

            South Korea bailed out Hyundai and Kia. How did that work out? France bailed out Nissan. How did that work out?

            All car companies are government motors!

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            Two wrongs don’t make a right, except in Buckhead apparently.

          • 0 avatar
            CrapBox

            I agree. Taxing the citizenry to help sustain an industry is an example of lost opportunity cost, where scarce resources are allocated for the appearances sake, not for rational reasons.

            So, for example, if your local dairy farmer runs into difficulty, you’ll support him when he pleads for tariffs to protect his product against unfair competition. And if no one wants to purchase his product, you may also agree to provide him with a direct subsidy. You’ll pay extra for your milk and cheese, but you’ll feel good about it because you’ve helped to sustain jobs and maintain a very photogenic industry. The problem is that the money you’ve spent to support your local farmer could have been spent on something else — such as buying a few electronic components and creating a new gadget that enriches both you and the world. But you won’t be aware of your loss because you’ve thrown away your wealth before you had the opportunity to use it productively.

            The car industry is just like any other. In a truly free market, it should move around from place to place. The reason it doesn’t is that it holds immense symbolic value, similar to farming.

            I’d suggest that if you really want to discover America’s strength, stop sending tax dollars to Detroit and tell the auto workers to start looking for new ways to create wealth, not for old ways to maintain the status quo.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Best midsize car for <$20k? No, the Camry L can be had at that price point.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Isn’t this a fun site?

            Yesterday the thrash-fest was for the polar opposite of this car; Camry… the “stealth failure”.

            I guess the Avenger is then the “stealth success”?

        • 0 avatar
          CrapBox

          When did it become the responsibility of government (or industry for that matter) to provide job security? That doesn’t seem like a sound economic model.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            So people are supposed to drop dead when no longer useful to the economic model?

          • 0 avatar
            billfrombuckhead

            It is for JapanInc apparently as they buy down the yen everytime the zaibatsus moan. Japan has the highest debt per capita in the world because of this practice. One would think American conservatives would boycott Japan because of 40% more than Greece debt.

            BTW,Japan is known for job security.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I can say with certainty that you know vastly more about invertebrate paleontology than you do about Japan.

            Ain’t no more zaibatsu, and pensionless, downsized 50-somethings were recruited for clean-up jobs in Fukushima with all parties fully aware that it was a death-by-cancer sentence. Men thronged the hiring centers.

          • 0 avatar
            JD321

            So thieves, muggers, and rapists are supposed to drop dead when no longer useful to the economic model?

            You’re mean!

            “Taxing the citizenry to help sustain an industry is an example of lost opportunity cost”

            Someone NOT a idiotic parasitic brat? Why are you here? Actually stealing money from people who earned it and giving it to people who didn’t is what is called theft…even if the voting Democrazy parasites get their political terrorist to steal for them.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        The government decided no business or people were more important than investment bankers. Government subsidizes transportation, energy, farmers, give banks money at 1%, tax subsidies to JapanInc manufacturers by southern states that run deficits with the federal government (northern states pay for) and on and on. Foreign caramkers are subsidized by thier home nations.

        All governments pick winners and losers all the time. To not acknowledge this is to not acknowledge reality, to live in a fantasy world.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      bill, the Avenger isn’t up to the standards of a sweatshop-sourced used chew toy. Get over it, union blowhard.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      Remind me never to go to Buckhead.

      • 0 avatar
        David Walton

        Tuffjuff,

        I live in Buckhead too. Trust that Bill ain’t representative of the population here.

        • 0 avatar
          tuffjuff

          Good.

          I can’t think of a non-offensive comment to make, so I’ll just say that he’s perhaps not the best ambassador. :)

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I lived there for 25 years and I would say that he is the antithesis of everything I know to be “Buckhead” Why he would choose the name is a bit confusing

          • 0 avatar

            So I guess we’re all picking on “billfrombuckhead” for not being anti-union or anti-bailout? Come on….

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            Actually, we’re picking on him for being pro-UAW to the point of absurdity. And for being pro-Chrysler to a similar extent.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            I thought we were just making fun because he said the Avenger is the best car in its class?

            I mean, I laughed.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            Well, it’s not exactly an enlightened conversation, so the cards are arguably stacked against him. I rode and drove an Avenger… it’s bad but absolutely positively NOT atrocious. I haven’t seen David Walton’s writing here before… maybe easy targets like Avenger are good practice for new writers. But bad and atrocious are two different things.

            And no, not ALL chrysler workers drink and smoke all day. And no, manufacturers SHOULDN’T be able to fire anyone at any moment at will.

            This whole conversation reminds me of those cute “TGIF” remarks people put on Facebook. No, thank the labor unions it’s friday, not god.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Buckhead hasn’t been cool since they closed all of the bars down.

        • 0 avatar
          billfrombuckhead

          In Buckhead,The brothers and LGBT’s don’t use ain’t that much. Buckhead is changing in way I bet you don’t like.

        • 0 avatar
          billfrombuckhead

          I hope that moat thing works out for you……..not.

          A diverse society is coming even into areas like Buckhead. Check out the Lindbergh City center where many African Americans show off their Chargers, 300′s and Challengers. Check out the LGBT population on Cheshire Bridge driving their Wranglers with the tops down. Buckhead isn’t just rich entitled white people.

          My brother has a Porsche as hobby, it’s always broke. He drives a 300k miles Cherokee 50 miles to works and back. Keeps miles off his show quality Ram Cummins truck.

          • 0 avatar
            David Walton

            Bill,

            I was actually at Lindbergh this evening; dropped a co-worker off at his place since Marta had closed and cabs are hard to come by on a Saturday night in Buckhead.

            Obviously even Buckhead is transforming, but the rolling hills and verdant forests of the West Paces corridor have yet to yield. Probably never will.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “A diverse society is coming even into areas like Buckhead”…”Buckhead isn’t just rich entitled white people”

            These are the things that make Buckhead desirable and for those who find the diversity uncomfortable, there are plenty of gated communities where you can hide from the unsavory real world

  • avatar
    slow kills

    New TTAC articles still read like essays stretched to meet a length requirement rather than a mercilessly trimmed bits of concision. There may be a nice 800 word article in here, but wallowed through the extraneous fluff of the first paragraphs keeps me from finding out.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Agree with this too. The first portion was about bailout, not the car.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I think the contrast between this review and just about any of Alex Dykes’ reviews is um . . . telling.

      The relevant question any cheap car review should answer is not that it’s a cheap car. We knew that! Rather, the question is how should this cheap car be compared with others that move across the lot at similar prices.

      As far as bailouts go, that’s an accomplished fact. It remains a fair question as to whether Chrysler should have been bailed out the first time (under Iaccoca) or broken into pieces and sold to GM and or Ford. But that’s a subject for a different article, IMHO.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “The relevant question any cheap car review should answer is not that it’s a cheap car. We knew that! Rather, the question is how should this cheap car be compared with others that move across the lot at similar prices”

        I agree with this. I already know the car is cheap, I’ve driven one msyelf, but I also know it’s affordable. How does that compare to the other rental lot queens rather than a CTS-V or Porsche?

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          +1. Context is everything, especially in a site where the readership is well informed to begin with.

          Is it me, or was the shot to the UAW at the end a little undeserved?

      • 0 avatar

        Bruce,

        Every time I get a car for review purposes, I’m challenged with the fact that I don’t get a lot of press cars so I’m not likely to have driven a direct competitor. I end up evaluating the car on its own merits, what it was like to drive and use for a week. I think that’s how most consumers judge their own cars.

        My friends and neighbors have gotten used to seeing a variety of brand new cars that I can’t afford showing up on my driveway. The most common question that I get asked is “do you like it?”.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree. TTAC standards in writing car reviews dropped significantly recent times. Too many words and not much sense. I drove Changer rental (before FIAT edition) but if I did not I could not make much sense of the article. The style is amateurish and too pompous for my taste. If you live in TTAC-land there is no difference between MKZ and Avenger – both are piece of garbage sold for different clientele (subprime folks vs 80 year old geezers). But at least Derek keeps it short (thank you Derek) and stark.

  • avatar
    ThatkatXY

    This didnt really seem like a review, just alot of nitpicks and some fluff. I’d love it if Alex reviewed the Avenger/200 though. Not much point because both are going to replaced fairly soon but it would be nice to get such an unbiased view on the Chrysler twins.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I reviewed the 200 back when it was refreshed. It’s not the greatest car by any stretch but the pricing is low and the V6 with the 6-speed auto was surprisingly fast and efficient. For me it’s all about pricing and that’s where the 200/Avenger redeem themselves in my eye. Yes they aren’t terribly good to look at, no, they don’t have the gadgets you’ll find in the newer competition, but the MSRP is low and with the ginormous piles of cash on the hood I could see myself recommending the 200 to someone. The Avenger? That’s a bigger stretch.

      • 0 avatar
        ThatkatXY

        Oh, had no idea. Will definitely check it out. Just discovered the site and haven’t had a chance to go through the entire backlog of your reviews.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Alex does good, thorough reviews! I thought the one on the Jeep GC he did recently especially great.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            ++ to me, Alex is the gold standard.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            I’d like to add my voice to this.

            I actually would not read Alex’s reviews about a year ago. Methodical, but somehow too plain. I think they got more focused over time, though no less methodical, and i also got used to them a little more. Now I love reading his reviews. Especially since Michael, who is the master of FRAMING a review (similar to Baruth, yet less flashy), no longer writes here.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        This. I sat in both a 200 and an Avenger at a recent auto show, and the former had a discernibly nicer interior (as one would hope if Chrysler Group is trying to reinforce its brand hierarchy). Furthermore, every review that criticizes the 200 or damns it with faint praise seems to elicit comments from 200 owners who got cash on the hood and are quite pleased with the car they got for the money.

        And not that every V6 or turbo I4 midsize isn’t a sleeper these days, but you’ve got to love the Pentastar-equipped 200 as the standard bearer of the genre. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5ec1g0eLno&feature=player_detailpage&t=18

    • 0 avatar
      ThatkatXY

      This is all my opinion of course and your review is very well written Mr. Walton and i look forward to reading more of your articles.

  • avatar
    StaysCrunchy

    I don’t know you, and I’m not going to make assumptions or pretend to know who you are or what your standards are, but I can say with complete confidence that this car was not designed or built for you. The fact that you compared it to both a Cadillac CTS-V and a Porsche proves that.

    The 2008-2010 Avenger gets its fair share of crap – well deserved crap I might add – but the current Avenger is not that car, and most people recognize that and agree that the current Avenger a fairly decent little car. Should we blindly over look it’s shortcomings then? Of course not, it has its share of faults which rightly should be pointed out, but I think you’re being unduly harsh on it.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      @Stays, I think you need to re-read the post. He clearly states his intentions for the Avenger were pure, that he was ‘excited’ to give it a go. Notwithstanding that this example is, and was always intended to be from the factory floor, a rental basher, it should be a better quality example regardless of its Enterprise workshoes. The Avenger in full-form is a decent car, but in comparison to the competition it stables with, its a poor substitute.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        But its price reflects the fact that it is not a Fusion or Accord.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Which is OK, if it costs a lot less to build. I’d be surprised if the build cost was low enough to make any money on it.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Barely.

          Edmunds says TMV for the Fusion is a mere $1000 higher than the Avenger – and another $200 will get you an Accord. (CVT; the manual is probably cheaper but I wanted an even comparison).

          Now, some people are all of: super price sensitive, wanting a new car, AND don’t want a smaller one, and maybe that makes the Avenger compelling to them.

          But that’s a really small set of people; I can’t see why anyone else wouldn’t just buy any of the (Fusion, Accord, Optima, etc.) competition, in this case, buying new.

      • 0 avatar
        StaysCrunchy

        Fair enough. But I counter that, despite what he said, his intentions were not pure and that he was everything but excited to drive it.

        Per his own admissions, he is a well educated man and a fine automobile enthusiast. He owns at least one classic Porsche and enjoys sports car racing. Typically, these aren’t the toys and activities of your average McDonald’s fry cook, and I can pretty much guarantee you nobody in his tax bracket is excited to drive a Dodge Avenger.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not surprised he hated it and I’m not saying he doesn’t make some valid arguments, but I think he went into it with the wrong mindset. A 2013 Dodge Avenger is not going to be as refined as a 2013 Mercedes-Benz or even a 2013 Ford Fusion, but the price reflects that. I wouldn’t buy a frozen Hungry Man dinner from the supermarket and write a scathing diatribe about how much better the Porterhouse at Chez Riche is either.

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          I was sincere when I described the conversation I had with Doug. I advanced that there are no truly “bad” cars made today, and he disagreed. Shortly thereafter, I had the opportunity to drive an Avenger for a few days, so I jumped at the chance, given that he had described its sister car as the exemplar of a poor modern car.

          I didn’t expect it to be like my 911, but I also expected it to fare better than it did.

          • 0 avatar
            StaysCrunchy

            I respect that you gave your honest opinion of the car, and I have always contended that people are entitled to their opinion. My apologies if I come across as dismissive of yours or your intentions regarding the review. We will have to agree to disagree about the Avenger though.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            This rental-grade Avenger is like answering the question “Which mid-size sedan?” at Enterprise with the answer “Doesn’t matter. Any sedan.” like in the Hornitos commercial.

            http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7tlp/hornitos-plata-tequila-any

            David, the article would have been better with the history of Chrysler decline condensed to a few sentences contrasting the attention to detail exemplified by Walter P Chrysler and the iconic Chrysler building compared to the indifferent choices in the current Dodge Avenger. At this point, I’d leave out the part about government bailout and the Porsche comparison and focus on how the Avenger compares against its peers on the rental lot. In the spirit of rental review, would you rather wait for a Malibu to be vacuumed out or take the first up Avenger?

        • 0 avatar
          naterator

          In much the same way that “going slumming” is exciting. As long as you know it’s just for a night.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          To reiterate what I said above, the difference between an Avenger and a Fusion starts at around $1k (per Edmunds’ TMVs, so I’m assuming that includes the likely incentives).

          That’s 5% of the price of the car, closer to the difference between a store brand frozen dinner and the Hungry Man.

          It sure doesn’t seem like $1k ought to be the difference between Fusion/Accord/Optima quality and “nothing but cheap plastic and switches that fall off”, so to speak.

          Nobody expects a base-trim Midsize to be a Genesis or an A6, in materials or quality.

          But, I mean, I expect a $16.5k *Corolla* to have good switches and some softer plastics.

          There’s no room for interiors like the one described in today’s market, not at prices that are only *triflingly* lower than the competition

      • 0 avatar
        saabophile

        I think its obvious from the tome there was an agenda regardless of how “excited” he claimed top be. This is less objective than the forum fanboys who say my XXXXX is the BESTEST THING EVERRRR.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      “most people…agree that the current Avenger a fairly decent little car.”

      No, “most people” do not. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        StaysCrunchy

        This is a car enthusiast website, most people on this and other similar websites might not agree. But the great unwashed masses would, and methinks they outnumber us.

        Look, I’m not trying to come across as a Dodge Avenger apologist. I have no vested interest in that particular car or in Chrysler – the wife and I have a Mazda 6 and I ride an old BMW motorcycle most days – I just think the Avenger has become an internet whipping boy for reasons that aren’t entirely deserved, that’s all.

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          Actually, it has become an internet whipping boy for entirely deserved reasons. In fact, the same reasons they keep it on the lots and sell it to fleets. Because it’s a cheap, cheap, cheap vehicle that the unwashed masses don’t bother complaining about, because they figure at least it’s better than a used car.

          Which is also debatable. ;)

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Exactly this. There is no possible way that a NEW Avenger is a better car than a used Camry (or Accord, Fusion, Mazda6, whatever) for the same price. NONE.

            The interior on the updated Avenger IS nicer than the original, but that is putting lipstick on a pig. Actually, I like pigs, it’s like putting lipstick on a rotting corpse.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            While the Avenger may be crap, a new Avenger vs a worn Camcord isn’t a direct comparison despite their class size.

            I checked MY2013 CPO Accords for the heck of it, I found 2 gray LXs listed by a Honda dealer at $20,900 with 7K and 15K respectively. A new MY2013 Avenger (SE I guess) with incentives according to TrueCar should run you about 18K with $2500 in incentives and that’s *with* a trumped up $995 dest charge. So the equivalent dollars spent on an Accord would be in the 17s. If I check autotrader for Accords between 16750 and 18750, I get a few nice hits, some 2010 EX-Ls with 40K and 32K for 18,700, just under 18 yields 2010 auto LXs 26K, 35K, and in low 17s I see an ’10 EX with 38K, an ’09 EX-L with 45K and an EX-L V6 with 52K right at 17.

            So for the same amount plus dest you can roll the POS Dodge with 0 miles built in the last six months, or for the same straight cash an MY09-10 (built between 2008 and 2009) Accord with 30-50K… but lets not forget TCO as that Accord will need tires/brakes/fluid changes/timing belt out of your pocket during your period of ownership which the Dodge won’t for at least 30-40K. The only variable out side of dest/no dest is the availability of nice trim packages on the used Hondas vs the Dodge SE. If you must have the top trim then my advice to you is never ever buy a new car because you’re going to get taken for a ride with the BS they make you buy to get the one or two toys you want.

            So which is better for the average Joe, new Avenger or CPO Accord? Depends on your need, the Accord is vastly better engineered and more was spent on its materials than the Avenger, I’d say the Accord has $10-12K in materials alone and the Avenger maybe $7K-9 tops. The Accord costs less to build due to UAW overhead on Avenger, so the final price per unit of both cars to manufacture is probably close despite Accord’s better materials, say within 3 grand (maybe $14-15K for the Accord and $11-12K in the Avenger). So with the Accord you’re getting more for your money, but you’re also buying a USED car without a full warranty, on a used car note (which used to be factor as they were much higher) and will require you to spend money out of pocket on wear items. If I was buying for myself and I valued Camcord numbness, the used Accord may make more sense, but if I can swing $17 on a used car, why not spend 5 or 6 more and get it new then sell/trade it after 30K for around the 17 buy in price? If I’m the working poor or I’m buying a car for my kid, I’d rather spend the 17 + dest on the unrefined ride and not have to worry about the BS that comes along with used car ownership. Sure I’d get slaughtered on resale at the auction or private party, but if I’m shrewd on trade on later, I may be able to only lose the same amount of money later as the new Accord (say $6-7K) while getting the benefits the new car provides.

            Strategery, folks.

            http://www.truecar.com/prices-new/dodge/avenger-pricing/2013/

            http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/searchresults.xhtml?zip=15220&endYear=2013&modelCode1=ACCORD&showcaseOwnerId=71720&startYear=2008&makeCode1=HONDA&searchRadius=50&maxPrice=18750&mmt=HONDAACCORD&minPrice=16750&firstRecord=26&Log=0

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            There is nothing “worn” about a 2yo CPO Camcord. If the Avenger has build and design quality anything like the Caliber that my brother owns then you would be FAR ahead of the game with just about anything else. More than $2500 in maintenance to pass state inspection at less than 60K miles. And THAT price was at my dirt cheap ($55/hr) well-respected mechanic. The dealer wanted more than $4K! Suspension front and rear, exhaust rotted out, tie rods, steering rack shot, all at less than 60K miles. On a car used for highway commuting by a 37yo couple, not a couple of kids. Disgraceful. My Mom bought them the car with 12K on it without consulting me first. It was a “good deal”, so she thought. I would have spent the money on a slightly older Corolla, Mom would still have that $2500 and then some. My brother and his wife are the poster children for being working poor. And aside from the required to be repaired stuff, the door brakes are broken, and the interior is falling apart. I see nothing in my rentals of the Avenger to think it will age any more gracefully than its stablemate.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      I once owned, and raced a Corvette, the shortcomings model. When I put all 365 horses to work, I didn’t care

  • avatar
    shelvis

    So, let me get this straight……
    You want to see what Chrysler has to offer and the best representative of the company you could come up with is a soon to be deleted car on an orphan platform from 2 years ago? You couldn’t rent a 300 or Grand Cherokee?
    Trolling for clicks with a hit piece? TTAC Classic returns!
    Regarding the opinion of your colleague, I would value his opinion more if his writing didn’t stink of bush league Jalopnik snark.

    • 0 avatar

      No, he couldn’t. They offered him an F-150 or an Avenger. Read the article.

      • 0 avatar
        shelvis

        The review content of this site is completely dependent on what is available at the Enterprise rental counter?
        That’s the excuse?
        Really?
        He couldn’t, I dunno, hold off on writing the article until he could get access to something more current?
        That’s like me writing a Ford truck review based on the rusted out 1978 my uncle let me borrow to move into my new house.

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          Let me explain this again.

          I have one car. It’s a Porsche. I depend on it to get me to work. One of the reasons that I service it at the dealer is because they can get me a loaner or pay for a rental car. I took it to the dealer recently for service. I had a choice of rental cars. I chose the Avenger. I wrote about it after being appalled by the car.

          Fin

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Well hell he couldn’t take an F-150…We know that’s a pile of Dung, Just ask the Aussie contingent.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    The Avenger is definitely a Cerberus-John Snow cheap-a$$ special. My only reason for thinking that it is still around is that it is so amortized Dodge can sell them for a song to the rental car world. That approach generates some cash but that strategy can have deleterious affects on a company such as Chrysler Group LLC that is making a notable attempt to reform itself and its image.

    I rented one last June (2012) that looked like the one pictured here. I found that it did nothing very well but nothing really terrible either except the acceleration capability (or lack thereof) of the standard four cylinder engine; I rated it as unacceptable and a fail.

    Typically, I got two big nicks in the black paint on the rear driver side haunch as a resort of some super-sized slob that couldn’t get out of their own car without using mine as a door backstop. Knowing what an astronomical pain-in-the-a$$ Enterprise is about nicks and dents, I used a black Sharpie to touch it up. Looked pretty good after I was finished.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    How can you make an assertion that there is no pride in assembling a Chrysler 200 or Dodge Avenger? If it helps payback loans and other monies given to Chrysler, isn’t their pride in that. Maybe Chrysler is proud of being able to offer the Avenger as the most affordable mid-sized car in America. The V6 version is not a bad car. I’m no Chrysler-slappy, but I see nothing shameful about the existence of the Avenger.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Consider the juxtaposition.

      WPC puts his name on his cars and a grandiose building in Manhattan. Prideful man.

      Would he be happy to put his name on the Avenger/200 twins? It’s an oft-overused cliche, but he’s probably spinning in his grave right now.

      Now there’s a little sticker that lets you know the car is ostensibly made with pride. No one put their name on the line for this little stinker.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The man died in 1940. I’m sure there are plenty of things he wouldn’t have put his name on since then. His namesake still exists as an automotive brand, which means he’s done better than most. I’m not educated enough about Mr Chrysler to extrapolate the feelings or motivations of a man that died almost 75 years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Would Dr. Ferdinand Porsche put his name on a 944, a Panamera, or a Cayenne? Would he be happy his brand has devolved into shop queen status and the internal design of the cars have become so complex that it takes ten or more steps to check fluid levels? This is a man who was known as “the great engineer”, a man who designed the VW Beetle a car produced continuously for 58 years and used all over the world as a robust and reliable method of transportation. If Walter is rolling around I suspect Ferry is right along there with him. It’s easy to pick on these Chrysler models if you don’t like them, its much more difficult to turn your high powered perception on the brand you love and recognize its mistakes or faults.

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          I am quite critical of Porsche as well.

          I like most of the cars, but I wasn’t too impressed with two 981s I drove recently.

        • 0 avatar
          Cubista

          Heyheyheyhehyheyheyhey…ease up on the 944, how ’bout it? It was Jake Ryan’s ride in “Sixteen Candles” and Miss Christina had one along with cocaine in her dresser and marble on her floors in David & David’s hit “Welcome to the Boomtown”; it is an automtovie icon of the 1980′s, a decade in which ANY particularly memorable cars were in short supply.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Ferdinand was an engineer. He’d have been far more likely to approve of the 944 than anything that has worn his name since. The early 356 had more in common with production VWs than the 944 did, and the engineering of the 924/928 has been emulated by other manufacturers of high performance cars far more so than the marketing department directed products that bear his name now.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            No argument about the 944 being an 80s icon, but in my extremely limited experience with Porsche products 944 stands out as one of the ones the purists tend to dislike.

            “it is an automotive icon of the 1980′s, a decade in which ANY particularly memorable cars were in short supply.”

            I would add the Volvo 240 was also an 80s icon alongside it :)

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            The IROC-Z was an icon of the 80s as well…as much as I loved the time period, that alone is not reason to dump accolades on the turkeys of the times.

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          Good comeback there, 28. The Dr. would probably be amazed at the colossal gall it takes to sell a Cayenne at 180% of the price of the Touareg that it really is, and how many status symbol junkies actually line up to pay it.

          As far as the Avenger, the visibility suffers because someone tried (too hard) to make it resemble a Charger. And while it’s admittedly faint praise, at least the new Chrysler recognized the original trim as hopeless and improved it.

          Regarding DW’s bitching about the window buttons, I’m calling BS. They are identical to the controls in my Challenger and there is not a thing wrong with them that makes them inferior to anything in his garage queen (which probably had its buttons sourced from the Golf parts bin). This reads like a snob who’s looking for something to gripe about to show how superior he or his ride is. Incidentally, if for some reason VAG collectively lost their minds one day and started offering 911s to rental agencies for the price of Avengers, they’d probably get turned down. Reason being that broken down cars in the shop don’t make you any money and just piss off the customers.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thx man, I think he too would be dumbfounded on Cayenne and also how his company was effectively absorbed over time into the VAG to be used as a trim package.

            “broken down cars in the shop don’t make you any money”

            Ain’t that the truth.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          That was one of the most perceptive analogies I have read here… Spot on, 28

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thx, coming up with it was by far the most productive thing I did at work today. Have a nice weekend.

      • 0 avatar

        David,

        I’m not sure that prideful quite describes Walter Chrysler, though he demanded and got some pretty substantial salaries for his era. I think he may have been the most competent automobile executive ever. Chrysler didn’t launch a car brand with his own name until he’d been in the car biz for some time, having already run Buick, Willys Overland, and Maxwell. He was first brought to Buick after a successful career in the railroad industry.

        The Chrysler Building was named for his company, not for him personally and it was built to promote that company. Off the top of my head I don’t think that Walter Chrysler ever did a lot of publicity personally for his car companies. There are publicity photos and this one newsreel promo film from 1932 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUqAZl42zII), but not much. He didn’t sell his personality the way Henry Ford did. I believe that the building in NYC was more of a statement to the financial world that Chrysler Corp was a serious challenger to GM and a player in the industrial and financial worlds. The Chrysler brand was launched in 1925 (or you could say the year before, he was working on a Chrysler car while still running Maxwell), but he didn’t build the Chrysler Bldg until after he bought Dodge Bros and launched the Plymouth and DeSoto brands, all in 1928.

        Walter Chrysler did, however, take pride in the engineering of cars made by his company. Engineering was always Chrysler Corp’s strong suit. As such he might be disappointed in the Chrysler 200 vis a vis competitive products. Walter always tried to be the leader in the segments in which he competed.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I think you’re setting up a false dichotomy here: something can either be cheap or worthy of pride . . . but not both.

      I have to disagree. An intelligently designed and built cheap car can still have its own integrity. And the example I would give is the VW Beetle. The Beetle was designed from its inception to be a cheap car (“people’s car”). Yet, one of the reasons the Beetle sold so well in the U.S. (it was the original “cheap foreign import”) was that it had a certain integrity, despite being cheap. It was assembled with a lot of care; and, by the standards of the time, it reflected some careful engineering. The virtue of the Beetle was its simplicity. Do we need a fuel tank gauge? No, we just put in two drains at the tank . . . one and the bottom and one that drains 3/4 of the tank. When the engine starts to sputter — quite forcefully reminding the driver that he’s low on fuel — he flips a lever to drain the rest of the tank and keeps an eye out for the next gas station. The Beetle was filled with clever engineering like that . . . and its US advertiser made a point of reminding people what the Beetle didn’t have, such as a liquid cooling system that could fail.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      “How can you make an assertion that there is no pride in assembling a Chrysler 200 or Dodge Avenger?”

      Because people who have pride in their work don’t need drugs and alcohol to get through their workday. Unlike, apparently, some Chrysler UAW assembly workers, as has been documented.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        There are drunks and druggies in every industry, every. I’ve seen drunk and drugged lawyers, doctors, architects, IT people, etc, etc. Pride in a job has no real realationship to substance abuse.

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          It has a relationship when the drunks and druggies are actually getting drunk and doing drugs DURING WORKING HOURS. Also when their union protects them when they get caught doing it.

      • 0 avatar
        Bob

        The UAW, like most unions, probably offered to help the members caught using drugs with substance abuse rehabilitation programs. A Non-union factory would have terminated these people, but the UAW is there for it’s members. Does having a substance abuse problem damn a person for life? Will he or she ever be able to work on an assemble line again? Has anyone in your line of work ever used drugs or alcohol on a break or lunch? Did your company offer to help them overcome their addictions or just use a zero tolerance rule to fire them?

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          You raise some good points, depending on a the company and how you were abusing substances a salaried office gig might give you at least one chance in my limited 9 year experience in the working world (but you’re probably blackballed from that point forward). I will say though my current employer caught one salaried employee snorting coke in the men’s room and another longtime salaried one legally drunk at her desk after being seen drinking in the ladies room. Both were terminated, I imagine because the offenses occurred on company property. My former employer once caught an evening help desk worker masturbating in a private room on shift (seriously), he was immediately terminated ans escorted out.

          I’ve never worked a factory job, or any hourly position outside of retail, so I’m not sure what would or should happen… but I’d imagine you’re out. If I’m running an assembly line not firing (or arresting) employees abusing legal or illegal substances on shift sends a message that this behavior is tolerated. UAW was on the wrong side of this one, if somehow one thinks its fair they kept their jobs they should have been demoted to the lowest pay grade/worst job in Chrysler as punishment.

          • 0 avatar
            Bob

            In my line of work (I’m a Union Electrician IBEW 134 Chicago) if someone was caught using illegal substances on a job, or tested positive for them on a random drug screening they would be terminated from their job, but not kicked out of the union. The union would send them to mandatory drug rehabilitation, if they refused then they would be asked to leave our organization. Once they beat their addiction, they would be fit for work and allowed to sign the “book”, our waiting list for employment for which there is currently a 2 and a half year wait for a job.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Objectively speaking, is car may not be so bad. Compare it to anything in its class from the mid ’90s, and it is probably better in every way. However, in today’s golden age of the Automobile, it is not competitive when compared to cars that cost as much. Cars like the Honda Accord, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima are better in every way and no more expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Actually Camry’s and Accords are more expensive. This is the least expensive midsize car out there even cheaper than Korean cars. In fact Chrysler is going to keep building it a while longer because people want it at that price.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I’d rather have something from it’s class from the 90s than this thing.

    • 0 avatar
      4LiterLexus

      I’d love to read a comparo that pitted a rental Avenger against similarly-equipped 1990s family sedans (Camcords, Cloud Cars, the ’97 Malibu, etc.) While the Avenger might have more tech and safety features by now, I would bet good money that even 100K-mile examples of the Camry or Accord would offer more refinement and interior quality than the 2013 Dodge.

      The Big 3 make some very competitive family sedans right now–sadly, the Avenger isn’t one of them unless you’re buying by the pound or want a cheap Pentastar.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    It’s the cheapest thing you can fit a Pentastar in. Only reason it exists, which is fine with is fine with me.

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    This car has one advantage on other mid size cars. price. That’s it. The MSRP of the Avenger is $2000 less than most of the competition except the Camry which is $3000 more. I recently bought a new car and cross shopped and researched till I didn’t want to look at or read about cars for a month. The Sonata, Optima, Malibu, Accord, and Fusion are all rated 3-6MPG above the Avenger and some have more powerful engines as well. Each has better standard features and better materials and fit and finish.
    Cars like the Avenger are why Chrysler went through their most recent bankruptcy. It may well be a suitable vehicle but when viewed against the competition it pales in comparison. They aren’t selling cars in a vacuum, they are competing with other brands.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      What midsize car has a more powerful engine than the Pentastar V-6?

      • 0 avatar
        woj1s

        *Crickets*

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Who cares? It’s a turd with a rocket strapped to it. Do you only drive a fast 1/4 mile at a time?

        I have a 2.0l 115hp Jetta as a rental today. I’d rather have it over a V6 Avenger any day and twice on Sundays. More than adequate power and a pleasant place to spend time.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          Old 306hp Impala wins the rental car drag wars, and not as nasty as this Dodge.

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          I wouldn’t. Mostly because the Avenger actually is drivable 99%+ of the time. A friend of mine would love it if his Jetta was as reliable (or as quick) as the Chrysler 200s he rents all the time (From his brother who runs a rental place) when the Jetta is being fixed. Only thing good about the Jetta is it’s gone very soon, when the lease runs out. Another friend just dumped his Passat (Also leased) for a Grand Cherokee. Both of my friends and their wives are done with VW.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Does the big number bring solace when the car still isn’t as quick as other V6 powered midsized cars? It certainly is cheaper than other V6s though.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        The Pentastar ain’t in the cheap model – and everyone else is saying “it’s all the price, that’s why people buy this thing”.

        Now, at $22.4 with the Pentastar, it starts to maybe be interesting… but I can’t believe that that’s the real driver behind all those sales.

        (I mean, I know I wouldn’t buy something with bad visiblity and poor materials to save a few grand on more engine than I Really Need.

        I’d rather spend the $3k more on the Optima 2.0T if I cared that much about that power point…)

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    Does anyone else here see the irony of a Porsche owner taking their car in for repair (and being on a first name basis with the service dept) complaining about stereo buttons on the steering wheel of a car that cost 1/5 of the said often broken Porsche not working?

    The window buttons aren’t as nice as the Porsche’s also?

    Not much objectiveness going on in this writeup.

    Still enjoyed it though!

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      The Porsche’s nearly 18 years old and has 100k plus miles.

      The Dodge is near-as-dammit new and its stereo buttons don’t work. Every button in the 911 still works.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Or the irony of someone who works in financial services complaining about a bailout.

      • 0 avatar
        David Walton

        Why would you assume I’m the beneficiary of taxpayer largesse?

        • 0 avatar
          billfrombuckhead

          Doesn’t government loan banks money at !% interest? Didn’t government bail out almost the the whole banking sector?

          Like Jay leno likes to point out, at least the auto industry makes something real, unlike the banksters.

          • 0 avatar
            David Walton

            Bill,

            I recognize there’s some information asymmetry in my favor here – I know the answers to your leading questions, whereas you do not.

            The answers are “no” and “perhaps,” respectively. There is a third question which you did not ask: “Has David Walton every worked for a financial services institution in which the Treasury held a TARP CPP position at his time of employment?”

            That answer is also “no.”

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    You need some pretty big grains of salt to take with this article.
    Typical auto-journo-speak “American baaaaad, German good” even though said German car lives in the repair shop. The Avenger with the 3.6 will give your Porsche fits if not spank it outright head to head. A little more objectivity would be nice instead of the constant Ameri-bashing that seems to pervade here.

  • avatar
    Tucson Tripper

    Hold the venom. I’m sure your readers know that there will be a new mid-sized 200 early next year. The dealers seemed to think it was a vast improvement over the current model. The Avenger, which isn’t that much different in size than a Dart, will hang around as a rental fleetmobile for awhile to milk every last penny out of it.

    God I hope the new 200 looks better than the Dart. I have a built-in love for Chryslers and I was SO disappointed with the looks of the Dart.

    The Avenger is a great car for those looking for low mileage, low cost appliances. I see quite a few of them in Tucson and I always wonder what the story is behind someone buying one of these cars.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      When I lived in Tucson, I saw more old and weird cars than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. What possesses someone to drive a VW bus, without A/C, in the Sonoran desert, in July?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      It looks like the Avenger replacement is now delayed to 2015. This would be standard Marchionne operating procedure.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I think it has potential…

      http://www.gadgetshake.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/2014-Chrysler-200.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Actually, this story would have been better had a 200 been available as it has been reworked from its penny pinched half baked Daimler parents. Then again, the idea was to see how good the “worst” new cars are. I, for one, would have suggested a three year old car if a family member has asked me about buying a new Avenger.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    So I guess the beauty of this Avenger isn’t just skin deep.

  • avatar
    spartan_mike

    I had one as a loaner about a year ago. It wasn’t nearly as bad as this write-up indicates. It’s a step or two behind the rental Altima and Mazda 6 that I had over a similar period, but given the price difference it’s probably worthy of consideration for someone on a tight budget. I would guess that price-wise, it probably lines up better with the Corolla I rented and in that case the extra size would be compelling.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I’ve had a 200 or Avenger for a loaner or rental about 4 times in the last two years. It’s not anywhere near as bad as these articles try to make it. I ride in new Accords and Camrys quite often, and yes they are nicer cars, but they cost a lot more than a 200 or Avenger does. The Pentastar engine in the last two makes it a lot more fun to drive than the Toy or Honda.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    The 2008-2010 Avenger’s interior WAS markedly worse:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e4/Dodge_Avenger_Dash.jpg

    This was a rental stripper; of course it was going to suck!

    Like most Chrysler products, the Pentastar V6 option makes everything better.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      I’ve driven other rental cars when dropping the 993 off for service – Mazda6 and a VeeDub Jetta. The Mazda6 was dull, but the VW was a pretty good car (although $$$).

      • 0 avatar
        StaysCrunchy

        I find this comment interesting. To me, it really highlights a person’s own person preferences and biases. And no, I don’t mean that as a standard nasty internet comment. I really do find it interesting.

        Reason I say so is because I have no personal love for German cars. That’s not to say I hate them, I just don’t care for or about them one way or the other. Last summer the wife and I rented a 2013 Jetta with just a few hundred miles on it, and I gotta say I was thoroughly and completely unimpressed with it on every level. I found the styling, both interior and exterior, to be largely unoffensive but also completely bland and generic in every way. I had similar feelings about the powertrain. When you stepped on the pedal, the car moved forward under its own power, and that’s about the most exciting thing I could say about it. But the real thing that turned me off was the NVH. I’m not just talking road noise – and believe me, it had that in spades – but the squeaking and rattling of the interior at every single point where two pieces of plastic met was absolutely maddening!

        I couldn’t turn that car back in fast enough… about as fast as that car turned me off to VW.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I’m rocking a 2012 base Jetta with sunroof from Hertz this weekend. 25000 rental miles on it. Hertz had assigned me a Maxima at SFO and I couldn’t face another one of those barges. The Jetta was the best thing in the Choice row. Not a rattle or a squeak in it, tight as a drum. Interior like new, a few battle scars on the outside. Nice car for $19k. I’ve had v6 Avengers as rentals, hazard of being a VERY frequent renter. The 2.sl0 VW is a much nicer place to spend time. I outgrew stoplight drags and smokey burn outs around 25 years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            CelticPete

            I like the 2.0 slow Jetta as a rental. Its very low powered though. Strangely I find it amusing that you can flat out floor it in between lights and people will still think that you are driving normal.

            That being said I thought he handled well for a front wheel driver with a torsion bar rear. I wouldn’t buy a VW though unless its on that new MQB platform. I believe that will be more reliable.

          • 0 avatar
            StaysCrunchy

            I outgrew stoplight drags and smokey burnouts… well, I’ve never done either actually. I’m a “10 and 2″ kinda guy, never had a speeding ticket or at-fault accident my entire 23+ years of driving. But under normal driving, that Jetta was constantly downshifting, and wheezed and gasped for breath on freeway onramps so much I thought for sure it was down a cylinder.

            I’m glad you like yours, I truly mean that without sarcasm. I doubt you’d like my car, which is why I always say “There’s an ass for every seat”

      • 0 avatar

        If Mazda6 is dull then you should avoid mainstream midsize cars entirely. They are dull on purpose.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    This seems like a rehash of every ‘Avenger sucks’ article ever written.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Never drove the Avenger, but Enterprise provided me with a ’13 200 for a couple of days while my xB was repaired from a rear ender. Yeah, the four cylinder, four speed, but the car was acceptable. In face, after reading this review, I’m questioning whether my car came from the same company or was built on the same assembly line. My experience was nowhere near that bad.

    In comparison, Enterprise also provided me with a ’12 Malibu last month for the trip to my wife’s funeral. I could easily see the difference, the Chevy was a much superior car. But the Chrysler was decent. Obviously, there’s some huge difference between the Chrysler and Dodge assembly lines.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Breaking news:Every car in this class drives like a POS!!!!!! Compared to a Toyota Camry or a Hyundai Sonata, the Avenger handles like a Porsche. Agree on the blindspots and transmission.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    I happen to be spending two weeks on Maui and reserved my rental through Enterprise, which promised me a Chrysler 200 “or similar”. I felt that the only similar car would be the Avenger and that did not bode well. At the agency, the two 200′s were spoken for and they ‘upgraded’ me to a 2012 Chevy Malibu with 20,000 miles. I was relieved and am enjoying one of the nicer 4-cylinder mid-sizes for my trip. Now, some may say that the new 200′s are not like the old 200′s and I missed out on a good car. My point is that for anyone with a passing interest in cars, the damage done by the Cerberus years to Chrysler’s reputation for building decent cars for anyone but sub-prime borrowers will be years in the undoing.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I found this review left a bit of a sour taste. There is a heavy post-bailout emphasis in the opinions expressed and all the negativity that that brings along with it. The direct comparison to Porsche has some merit but is mostly just off. “I jumped out of a Porsche and hated the Avenger”… Surprise! Wrap that up with some pretty obvious anti UAW and bailout opinions and this whole review becomes quite one sided.
    The good points are that the writing is fairly good and the hard, negative points about the Avenger are accurate and useful information, the C pillar especially.
    Some good points about the Avenger (price point) and some reminders that Chrysler is doing very well currently would have balanced this review out.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You’ve nailed it Beerboy. I think one of the challenges of every journalist is a commitment to staying objective in your prose despite your own personal feelings.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    I guess TTAC has found its wobble.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/clarkson-burgess-the-wobble-and-the-chrysler-200/

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    If you don’t like it then don’t rent it. For the masses, it is a decent vehicle for under $20,000.

    • 0 avatar
      tallnikita

      Oh come on! Civic, Fit, Versa, old Malibu, old Impala, old Mazda 6, old Santa Fe, Jetta, Golf, etc. are decent vehicles under $20K. Avenger is a decent vehicle under $16K, which is what the rental paid for it and what anyone should be paying for this Chrysler product. Doesn’t make it bad per se but to put it in just sub-20 category is just not right.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      I won’t rent it AGAIN, let’s just say that.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Syke— If I remember right in the past you have alluded to your wifes health, but still this is tough, my best to you.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Politics, partisanship, and unions aside. The guy putting the crappy parts together is not responsible for the materials and tools he is given. He is responsible for…putting it together, What I read was a lot of well deserved criticism for the crappy materials, junk switch gear, cloth, and a center stack that would have looked dated in 1993.

    You may have a job assembling crap – but you can take pride in your job. Between booze and pot breaks of course.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    For balance about the bailouts, the new Consumer Reports best car in the world beside a Tesla Chevy Impala should be mentioned along with all the new Cadillacs. As far as Chrysler is concerned, the Grand Cherokee and Ram are at the top of their classes. A new Chrysler d-class car is being polished up right now with an industry leading 9 speed automatic and improved engines. The Avenger is strongly rumored to be replaced by a rear wheel drive Alfa Romeo platformed sedan.

    It’s easy to pick on a decade old Mitsubishi/Hyundai/Cerebus joint venture price leader to make some political point but it is sold as a cheap car and will continue to outsell the Mazda 6 and other pundit favorites as a cheap car. Some enthusiasts will like it because of it’s best in class V6.

    • 0 avatar
      Buckshot

      You work for Chrysler? That´s the only explanation.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Chrysler has a lot of enthusiasts and has built and is building many great cars. Right now the 300, Charger, Ram, Grand Cherokee, Durango, Wrangler and Challenger are truly great vehicles. Chrysler has also made a lot of bargain basement cars that many people get a lot of bang for the buck.

        • 0 avatar
          SayMyName

          Is that the same industry-leading 9-speed automatic that’s currently botching up the Cherokee launch?

          You are right that Fiasler has some good vehicles… all of which were engineered before Sergio and crew cast their influence upon the company. Fiasler’s future as an Italian/American mongrel remains a highly dubious proposition, though, as evidenced by the wholly mediocre and ill-finished Dart.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Please take away this contributors thesaurus.

    While perusing this review, my mind was continuously assailed by the sheer volume of adjectival and adverbial effluvium which this author chose to ubiquitously insert into this narrative. The resulting tedium was more egegious than the average TTAC reader should be forced to endure.

  • avatar
    Travis

    My experiences with this car are spot on with yours except for the inoperable buttons. It’s a dreadful car.

  • avatar

    “…the Dodge’s switches appear to be made from a Styrofoam packing peanut that was spray-painted black.”

    This had me rolling for a while.

  • avatar
    Sob93

    David you lost me with the window switches. Seriously, comparing a $14000 car with a 911? Does the Dodge really suck when you’re on first name basis with your Porsche service department. Here’s an idea. Don’t buy a 911 and get 5-6 Avengers for the same money or less and start your own rental company. For a mid-size car that lists for $14000-$2400 fully loaded it’s not a bad deal. Porsche charges 20-30k to option out their cars. Chrysler builds these cars for the common man and woman who just want inexpensive reliable basic Xportation. It’s hard enough to find a decent used car for $14000. The C pillar does need a refresh though just put some more class in that back door. Want bells and whistles and upscale materials inside buy a Lexus, Buick or 300.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      My 911 cost about $30k. It’s old and has 100k+ miles.

      I’m on a first name basis with the guys in service because I have a childhood friend who’s a tech there, and I hang out with him and his co-workers at Road Atlanta and elsewhere. Just an inside joke. I am probably at the dealer once every 2-3 months, however.

      • 0 avatar
        Sob93

        $30000, ok so thats 2 Avengers. LOL. I own a 03 Discovery since 07 purchased for $15k w/30k miles from a salesman who didn’t really know what is was. It’s been to the dealer 4 times 2 for scheduled service. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Excellent article BTW.

      • 0 avatar
        saabophile

        You can’t compare a used car with a new car that way. Shoppers looking for a new CamCord are NOT cross shopping a used 911.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        So you own something that costs 43000 2012 dollars that gets driven less than 6000 miles a year, and can’t go more than 3 months without a trip to the service department, and the AVENGER is the piece of junk?

        The real joke came with a title and set of keys, and you’re holding them.

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          It gets driven about 15k miles a year, hence the frequency of service (brakes, tires, fluids, etc.).

          As you might imagine, I drive the thing pretty hard.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I agree with you but I will say this in defense of his regular shop visits, I take my cars into the shop every six months or so for checkups, preventative maintenance, and more recently elective body work. You take care of a car and it will take care of you.

          Since January I’ve driven my 2008 Pontiac about 6,000-7,000 miles and its been in once for unscheduled deer damage in April and once for a few PM things in June. I’ve driven the ’93 Volvo (240) 2500 miles tops since Jan, it was having no start issues in Feb/March which required tows (issues which were eventually fixed) and is over there now for inspection and bodywork (rust removal, puddy/paint, and an overall buffing). While the Volvo isn’t a 911 I treat it well and am willing to pay to keep it looking clean and running correctly, just as any Porsche enthusiast.

          Maybe if I was a Porsche “guy” such as DW, I would preface my review explaining any possible bias and understanding what’s being reviewed is produced at a specific price point meant for the masses… unlike a vintage Porsche, Ferrari, Lotus, Lambo, Aston Martin etc.

          • 0 avatar
            David Walton

            28,

            Thanks for the meaningful, substantive commentary on this and other pieces I’ve written. Truly, it’s much appreciated as I strive to improve while informing and entertaining readers.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You are very welcome Mr. Walton. Writing is much more difficult than it looks, and its easy to pick apart another’s work without offering much suggestion or explanation as to why you feel such a way about it. A writer/journalist needs constructive feedback in order to grow and improve. The fact you respond to most comments shows me you’re not afraid to defend your points and also that you’re serious about responding to the points of others. Over time this meeting of minds will surely enhance your writing style.

            Have a nice weekend.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I own a 6 year old Honda. The switches don’t feel like styrofoam. Can we agree that’s a valid benchmark and quit griping because Walton dared to mention his Porsche’s switch gear?

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        I sit in a newer (like a year old) Accord about once a week and see no real quality difference between the switches in it, and the switches in my car, a 2010 Challenger, and the switches in an Avanger, which as far as I can tell, are identical. It’s a totally invalid benchmark.

  • avatar
    shelvis

    How would you like your Big Mac cooked sir? Medium Rare?

  • avatar
    Yesac13

    I rented a Chrysler 200 this spring. I intended to rent a Nissan Versa type car for the price class I chose but they were out of the appropriate car so I got a Chrysler 200 for no extra charges (normally costlier). Although this article is about the Avenger, its clear to me that the 200 is a better car. The 200 had better interior materials and did not have that huge blind spot.

    When I got into the car, I expected crap. Some small details were crappy (LEDs were bad, mainly plus some torque steer) but the Chrysler 200 actually was a nice car. I was impressed. It also helped that the car turned out to have the optional Pentastar motor. It was FAST.

    An used Chrysler 200 that’s nicely depreciated with the Pentastar upgrade… Its a really nice car for the price. A hidden bargain to look at in the next few years. Almost like the Chevy Impala of the last few years.

    • 0 avatar
      lastwgn

      I would have to agree with you. I had the same experience this past spring with a Chrysler 200 my wife and I rented in the Orlando area. Spent a week in the car. I am a big Mazda guy. Drive an RX-8 as a daily driver. Have a pristine ’83 RX-7. Have owned a first gen Mazda6. I fully expected to spend the week laughing at the 200 as a giant turdmobile. Instead, it was an delightfully pleasant car. Nice acceleration. Decent handling. A good ride. Surprisingly nice interior materials. Good mileage.

      And I cannot get enough of the nice analog clock sitting high in the center of the Chrysler dash. Every car should have a nice analog clock. Period.

  • avatar
    carguy

    So the moral of the story is that folks who are used to driving 911s find the Dodge Avenger’s distasteful?

    I will not argue that the 200/Avenger twins are sub-prime but that goes for nearly every rental queen when stepping out of a luxury car.

  • avatar
    saabophile

    This is the worst review TTAC has ever published. It was an unbalanced rant with no substance, no comparisons, and no pricing. The author comes off as snobby and ill-informed with a huge chip on his shoulder. I agree with the others that comparing it to a Porsche, et al just proves this guy shouldn’t be writing this type of article. If you want to publish this kind of viterol, don’t call it a review. Call it “Childish rant: 2013 Dodge Avenger.” That MKZ piece was little better. If this is the kind of stuff TTAC is going to push after getting rid of Karesh, I’m out of here.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      What is “viterol”?

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      It’s hardly the worst review ever published on TTAC but it lacks balance and beats a dead horse. Would you bash all Toyotas over the “white flag edition” 2014 Tundra or the 2013 Corolla 4 speed automatic?

      Chrysler is making some very good, even best in the industry cars and trucks. Some of the nicest cars in the world are being assembled by the UAW and CAW.

      How about a review of the new Impala or the new Ram truck? Maybe you should do a follow up when the Tigershark powered Dart GT comes out.

      And Buckhead is also known not just for high income but for diversity.

  • avatar
    Power6

    I have to admit, not matter how good a deal this car is and how awesome the Pentastar may be…

    I would not be able to get over that door lock plunger detail shown on the rear door above…the ridiculous plastic is molded around it as if to say “we couldn’t afford to get you glass all the way to the back of the door, so we put a depression here so you can still use the door lock”

    I’d buy a rental Impala over this, 306HP, 6 speed auto…normal visibility and proportions. I’m putting my cash on the Chevy in the drag race.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I liked this.

    I would love to see Mr. Walton review the Outlander Sport, Lancer ES, I-MiEV, Insight, and Fortwo sometime in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Thank you.

      You’ll have to wait until my 911 breaks again (any day now!), but I’ll assess the options available to me at the Enterprise counter once it does.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        I can bring any old ratty Lexus to the dealer for as little as an oil change, and they will gladly put me into a brand new shiny loaner. But Porsche can’t get that done?

        I even saved money by going to the Toyota dealer for my timing belt and they gave me a Yaris to drive for the day. But Porsche can’t set you up with wheels for the 2 bills or whatever they charge an hour.

        Is this part of that love/hate Porsche customer relations that JB talks about?

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          The dealers are totally separate from the company.

          I didn’t buy the car there, so why go out of the way for me?

          Plus, I had to get “special permission” to test drive some new cars recently, since I’m not 25 yet.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Well ok maybe “totally separate” is different to you and me, no financial interest but surely some of the customer experience is mandated I’ve never seen a franchise system than doesn’t have some of that, maybe Doug can explain it to you?

            But still you pay a lot for service and they can’t give you a car, just seems a little thin on the customer side when lesser brands do it. It could be the Geographical area I think most any dealer around Boston where I live is going to give you car ti drive when you buy their service.

            The money that pays for the loaner is not in the price you paid for the car, its in the price you pay for the service, in fact if you read some articles here JB lays it out for you, there is lots of money being made over in the service dept.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          I took my old Land Cruiser in to a Toyota dealer and they offered to call me a cab. The Lexus dealer did offer to do a 4 wheel alignment on it though which I thought would be a neat trick on a vehicle with 2 solid axles and can be aligned with a wrench and a ball of twine. The 2 places I have always been able to count on a rental? The Saturn dealer…They still gave me a loaner when I brought my 95 SW1 with 260k in right up until I sold it for 500 bucks in 2007 or so…and that was various dealerships and the Nissan Dealer in Jacksonville I used to go to. Other than that it was a crap shoot unless you count the Ford Dealer my good friends Dad worked at back in the day…we had some interesting loaners out of there.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    I had to rent this very vehicle while my ’14 Forester spent a few days in the shop (parking lot dings). This review says it all.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    “But how are the products, the cars that the company designs”

    It was designed during the Dumb-ler years and FIAT did it’s best to bring it up to date. But as we all know, you can’t make chicken soup out of chicken doodoo.

    Honestly, any review of today’s 200 and Avenger are as old and outdated as the original design. TTAC, please save us all the waste of time on these vehicles review and wait until FIAT-Chrysler come out with their designs.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The author missed the glorious mediocrity of the 200. Mediocre corporate airline seats and mediocre corporate reserved rental car. Welcome to my road trip. Would I pay to upgrade from this east? No. Sometimes you drive a mediocre car for a few days. The world won’t end. It gets me to and fro for business and back to the airport. That’s all I need.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    It’s mediocre I got the name wrong :)and beast, not east

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    There are two issues with rental care reviews..

    Rental reviews are problematic. Sometimes some cars have lousy option packages – especially with the big 3. For example the Charger supposedly has a nice trim level and drives nice. But you got to up in trim level. The question isn’t whether the Avenger is good – its not good. Is how does it compare to the stripper Camry and Altima. Then how does a car compare at various price points..

    I know alot of ‘modern’ thinkers believe that all the people buying luxury cars are idiots because you can get the same thing (or even more horsepower) for like half the price..

    But in my experience – with all the cars I have rented you generally get what you pay for. (This is why hearing how awful the MKZ was is shocking). This is a cheap car – its not right to compare it to a Porsche in your mind..

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @golden: There’s something wrong with the IROC-Z? I haven’t noticed.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    These things, along with every single Chrysler, have the WORST A/C performance I’ve ever seen. Seriously, they take a ridiculous amount of time to cool down, and when you turn the car on and have the setting set to cool you from the face vents, the car will take almost a minute to have air routed to the vents, even though the blower is on.

    The 4cylinder engine is a true dog and very unresponsive, and these cars are a pain to clean if they get even remotely dirty inside. I’ve never seen one with broken switches or anything noted here, but the flimsy center console lid has broken on two I’ve been in. Not a lot since I’ve driven thousands of these, more than I would’ve wanted, but no other car I’ve driven has had a center console lid break so…

    Pentastar versions are rare in rental fleets, but out there. I’ve driven those. They’re fast, but the Pentastar is still unrefined compared to a Toyota V6 and lacks polish in these and the vans. And either way, no matter how fast they are, they’re the same crappy car. We’ve had several of the transmission go out on the minivans with the V6, true to Chrysler form. Don’t know if these use the same one or not. Customers never really say positive things about them, except for maybe the ride being reasonably quiet. I’ve never met one that said they would buy one. I’ve had a few tell me they help you appreciate their own car better. Contrast this to the Impala, which at least has some refinement in it and even the Dart shows Chrysler at least tried, even if that’s poorly built too. This thing is a pure embarrassment and represents just how awful Chrysler is and why they deserve to be with Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and AMC.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      They sold 150K 200/Avengers so far this year! My family has 3 of them and they never have broke. We have 23 Chrysler products.

      Meanwhile the Ram is the highest rated truck causing TRDyoto to raise the white flag in the American fullsize truck market, the most profitable market in the world. The Grand Cherokee is beating the 4runner badly in sales and reviews.The Charger, Challenger, Wrangler and 300 are some of the beloved cars in the world. Chrysler unlike TRDyota makes exciting cars that car enthusiasts like as opposed to building cars accountants like.

      • 0 avatar
        Equinox

        You may have only owned Chrysler products and they may have been great. Nothing wrong with that. But it does not imply that they are the best at everything. If you want others to see your point of view, making statements like ‘beloved cars in the world’ doesn’t help your cause. Unless your world is restricted to North America, most of the world has not even heard of these cars, and will probably never drive any. However, more people have heard of Accords and Camrys and will see/drive one around the world.
        Chrysler may make good products. But so do other manufacturers. I have owned American, German and Japanese cars and none of them have been atrocious. None have broken down or had major repairs. Doesn’t mean they are the very best. But neither does it mean others can’t have different experiences with the very same cars.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        Yeah, nothing more exciting about a Chrysler than living on the edge not knowing when it’s going to crap on you.

  • avatar

    I enjoyed reading this. Laughed at packing peanut.

    The rear windows are like that with the plastic so that windows are smaller so that they can go down into the door all the way, if I’m not icorrect.

  • avatar
    Equinox

    Its always interesting to see the amount of ‘passion’ such reviews bring out in people. All reviews will have some part of the writers opinion baked into them. And as far as the actual car goes, people who hate the Avenger don’t have to buy it, and those who love it can spend their money on the Avenger when they need their next car or rental. (Still a free country!)

  • avatar
    paxman356

    I am renting an Intermediate from Budget for an upcoming family vacation (me, wife, 4 and 1 year old with car seats). I’m hoping for a Fusion, although I could deal with an Altima, Sonata or Optima. I dread getting saddled with an Avenger or 200. Articles like this don’t help much.

    Funny thing, though. If they have to upgrade me, I’d take a Charger every day of the week.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    I had a brand new one as a rental for a week a couple of months ago. I was the first one to rent it. It was a good car. I drove it on the highway for 1500 miles and it did quite well. The seats were good and it had one of the nicest steering wheels I have ever had on any car. It got excellent gas mileage also. I really have nothing bad to say about the car. It is fine for the price range that it is in.

  • avatar
    CGHill

    Last time I got any seat time in a low-end Dodge was seven years ago, and being a firm believer in recycling — um, repurposing content, I pass along to you my findings at that time:

    “As a temporary measure, I am sliding around town in a Dodge Stratus SXT in Frigidaire White. Despite the jumble of letters, this is the bottom-feeder of the line, with a nothing-special four-banger driving the front wheels. It’s an acceptable grocery-getter, but not the least bit amusing to drive, and while the seats are better than average, their adjustment range doesn’t include any position in which I’m comfortable. I am contemplating returning it to the rental yard and asking for something I can actually deal with. Inasmuch as I’m having to pay for it myself, I can’t think of any reason why they’d object.”

    Perhaps there’s something to be said for consistency.

  • avatar
    Bob

    Going from a prestigious Porsche to a Dodge must be very disappointing David. It’s so easy to bash a car that even Yahoo news has declared one of the worst available on the market today. For a lot of people who don’t drive Porsches, getting a great deal on a brand new Avenger would be a dream come true. Don’t like the feel of the power window switches? At least it has power windows! The aerodynamic addenda on the rear door upsets you? Without it the rear windows wouldn’t roll down as far. Finally, to conclude your article you HAD to do at least a little Union bashing, didn’t you? I don’t think the Sterling Heights Local UAW assembly line workers had anything to do with the design or engineering of this vehicle, but I do know that they built it to Dodge’s specifications with pride.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    If the Avenger’s switchgear doesn’t give you ‘satisfying feedback’ when it returns to its home position, how does it feel when a VAG product gives you a pat on the head with its headliner? Yes, I’m also talking about Porsches. Four year-old Porsches at that.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      I’m 5’8″ and there are several inches between the top of my head and the headliner of my car (which features a sunroof). And it’s 18 years old!

      So much for evolution.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Little too much Chrysler-hate for my tastes. Pick on a car your own size.

  • avatar

    Even the manufacturer admits this car cannot compete with the entire midsize class. (or is this car in a lower class altogether) (They even cite their sources) When you go to the avenger page on the website it of course lists accolades for the car, including: “America’s best-in-class+ available V6 highway fuel economy (29mpg)+” (that first + is an asterisk that when hovered over gives the disclaimer “Based on latest competitive information and Automotive News Lower Mid-range vehicle segment”… it also refers to this “Lower Mid-size vehicle segment” -per Ward’s when it proclaims “Most affordable mid-size car”… can’t compete with the entire mid-size segment… and they know it!

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Yes, the Avenger does not compete with a $30,000 Buick Regal, a VW Passat Cc, a Fusion Titanium or the next Chrysler d-class sedan but I know it steals some compact car sales from JapanInc.

  • avatar
    iMatt

    I think the this review was a little too harsh. Like others have said, it’s all about context!

    Having just recently bought a new car, I can say that the 200 was closely examined and compared against the Yaris, Corolla, Fit, Civic, Fiesta and the Focus.

    Why? Because it was selling for practically the same price with the features we wanted! It offers a value that one would be hard pressed to find anywhere else (outside of a Ram tradesman that is) and if you’re into buying a car by the pound as they say, this would be the value king.

    I was partial to the 200 by a wide margin. It’s a comfortable highway cruiser (relatively), has a very pleasant interior (relatively), it’s got plenty of passenger space (relatively) and it commands a road presence that the subcompacts just can’t match.

    For the selling price of 17 000 CDN, it was a deal I didn’t want to pass up. And then I thought about the hate and vitrol enthusiasts spew towards this car on a daily basis and started to doubt myself. Maybe there was something I was missing? I still don’t know.

    Lucky for me, my partner really liked the Fit, so that’s what we got. She said she’s not ready to be a grandmother yet. That and the “3rd chance credit” plastered all over the 200 tester also made me feel a bit queasy.

  • avatar
    David Walton

    I recently learned about “viterol,” but I’ve never heard of “vitrol.” What is it?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Awww c’mon, the Avenger wasn’t THAT bad. We rented one last year in Florida, and while it felt like something cribbed together by Fisher-Price from the door handles down to the controls, for a rental, it was fine.

    Having said that, I’d never buy one. I’ll stick with Chevy for mow.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Every large auto company makes some dogs.

    1. Is the Dodge Avenger/ Chrysler 200 that company’s worst major offering?
    2. What is GM’s worst major offering?
    3. What is Ford’s worst major offering?
    4. What is Toyota’s worst major offering?
    5. What is Honda’s worst major offering?
    6. How about the other half dozen or so large car companies – their worst major offerings?
    7. How about the global industry as a whole? Its top five worst major offerings?

    If we are gonna gossip about bad vehicles (which is fun, imo) then let’s have some examples for comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      Bob

      1. I think the Jeep Patriot is worse, still better than my old Cavalier.
      2. GM’s worst vehicle is the Express Cargo work van, absolutely horrific in every way when it’s outfitted for construction work.
      3. Ford’s worst offering is the Transit Connect, the full size van is the way to go since with a ladder rack the transit does not fit in parking garages.
      4. Toyota’s worst is the outgoing corolla, still a nice car, just toyota’s worst.
      5. Honda CR-Z because it’s trying to be too many things at once, but I will take one any day of the week.
      6. Porsches with their fancy boy window buttons, All Mazda products except the Miata. Overpriced Volkswagen corollas (Jetta) Giant poor MPG VW beetles.
      7. Ssayong, Seat, Hyundai and Kia Bongos, daewoo Matiz (chevy Spark)

  • avatar
    pb35

    I drive a ’12 Charger R/T. I brought my car in for service for the first time and had to leave it for the day. Since my cheap dealer doesn’t provide loaner cars, I had to pay $40 for the privilege of driving a clapped-out Chrysler 200 for the day. While this was a few months ago, I do recall that it was an awful car that couldn’t get out of its own way.

    Aside from that, it had the worst seats of any car I’ve ever driven. There was no thigh support to speak of and I couldn’t get comfortable no matter how I adjusted it.

    The next time I bring my car in, I’d rather sit in the waiting room at the dealer all morning eating stale donuts and watching Judge Judy than have to pay out of my pocket to drive one of these turds again.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    So the Avenger sucks, whilst the V6 is fast but still sucks. We get it. I thought TTAC had come to this conclusion some time ago?
    I used to regularly post on here, but I’m getting a bit bored of different writers reviewing the same ruddy car and coming up with the same conclusion over and over again. And the dig at the UAW? I thought the political BS was being banished.
    I know this site doesn’t always get access to super-duper sports cars all the time, but a prosaic review about a prosaic car, which has been reviewed by this very site multiple times just won’t keep my attention.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Well, Mr. Walton at least took the time to discuss the visibility for the driver of the car.

    However, no, its not hard to describe steering wheel feel in writing. Was it heavy, or light? When you changed lanes, did the wheel feel like it wanted to return to center, or did it feel like it would just keep going in the distance that you turned? Did it require more force the more you turned the wheel, or did it feel like the wheel wasn’t connected to anything, like the old-fashioned Dodges?

    The writing style could use some improvement, but Walton is a rookie. Cut him some slack. Hint: Interview someone. Instead of telling us that you really drive a Porche, talk to someone. Anyone. Ask the Enterprise lady what she thought of the car compared to the others in their fleet. Ask the guy at the locally owned rental place what he thought about them. Ask a Chrysler mechanic what he thinks. This is journalism, and you have journalistic responsibilities.

  • avatar
    CAMeyer

    Shame on me for reading this. I enjoy snarky comments about a cheesy car as much as the next guy, but this was as tedious as a jazz snob going on about Phil Collins or a wine snob riffing about Chardonnay that comes in a box. I congratulate Mr Walton on his status as as an automobile connoisseur, but let me point out that, just as many people like their entertainment simple or their wine unfussy and inoffensive, many car buyers want or need something that’s cheap as possible but not too small. The Avenger, such as it is, serves these customers’ needs, and does not require the care and feeding Porsches and other elite cars need.

    Even worse than the car snobbery is the putdown of the UAW. It’s my understanding that the UAW workers only put cars together, not design them (I guess that’s why they call it an assembly line). Unfortunately, such anti-union sentiment is characteristic of many young professionals who, convinced that their skills are unique and immensely valuable, see themselves as above unionization,

  • avatar
    CAMeyer

    Shame on me for reading this. I enjoy snarky comments about a cheesy car as much as the next guy, but this was as tedious as a jazz snob going on about Phil Collins or a wine snob riffing about Chardonnay that comes in a box. I congratulate Mr Walton on his status as as an automobile connoisseur, but let me point out that, just as many people like their entertainment simple or their wine unfussy and inoffensive, many car buyers want or need something that’s cheap as possible but not too small. The Avenger, such as it is, serves these customers’ needs, and does not require the care and feeding Porsches and other elite cars need.

    Even worse than the car snobbery is the putdown of the UAW. It’s my understanding that the UAW workers only put cars together, not design them (I guess that’s why they call it an assembly line). Unfortunately, such anti-union sentiment is characteristic of many young professionals who, convinced that their skills are unique and immensely valuable, see themselves as above unionization.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    You wanna rent a fun car that is sort of a Chrysler, rent a FIAT 500
    You left the second i out of vitriol, imatt.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Late to the party here but having had one for a week in Florida, I agree with most of this article. The engine/tranny combo IS abominable! I was wondering, was the black plastic piece that runs up from the console onto the top of the dash warped? The Florida sun had done this one in.

    However, I will say two positive things…the engine/tranny combo did produce decent mileage and the a/c in mine worked very well.


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