By on January 12, 2012

Chrysler is facing a dilemma straight out of “Sophie’s Choice” – whether or not it should kill the wretched Dodge Avenger to help the marginally better Chrysler 200 thrive. But words straight from the mouth of Dodge boss Reid Bigland made it seem like it’s all but a done deal.

Stating that “…Chrysler Group will likely consolidate around one midsize car in the future,” Bigland essentially signed the Avenger’s death warrant while speaking to the media at the Detroit Auto Show. The introduction of the Dodge Dart, more appealing in practically every way than the Avenger, should expedite the process. Dodge sold 64,000 Avengers in 2011 while the 200 managed to shift roughly 89,000. Both models lagged far behind the #1 selling Toyota Camry, which sold 308,510 examples in 2011.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

64 Comments on “Dodge Avenger Headed For Death Row?...”

  • avatar
    Oren Weizman

    I like new guys writing style, he’ll fit right in

    • 0 avatar

      Why is this big news? Sergio already announced that the Avenger and Grand Caravan would be replaced by a single crossover vehicle which will not have a Chrysler counterpart. He does not want “badge engineered” versions of the same Dodge/Chrysler platform models. Seems like a smart strategy.

  • avatar

    Don’t forget the 20,000-ish Mitsu galants sold. They count for…something?

  • avatar

    Deer God no! Goodnight sweet price.

  • avatar

    I remember when I saw these for the first time. I thought, Pontiac grand am. Super aggressive styling without the power to back it up. All show, no go.

  • avatar

    I understand not wanting to have two mid-sizers competing with each other under the same roof. But would it not be better to differentiate the Dodge from the Chrysler? How about a 2 door Avenger? How about a 2 door Avenger with a hatch? How about a Chrysler 200 wagon, and leave the minivan to Dodge?

    • 0 avatar

      Not worth it. Pretty much all Chrysler and Dodge dealers have both (plus Jeep and Ram) in the same showroom. I have a feeling that the immediate future is going to look like:

      Dodge Viper
      Chrysler 300
      Chrysler 200
      Dodge Dart
      Dodge something-smaller-than-a-Dart
      Chrysler Town & Country for minivan with leather
      Dodge Caravan for minivan without leather

    • 0 avatar

      There is precedent for this. Let’s see, pick your decade.

      1970’s: well, lets just say, ‘many’.

      1980’s: Chrysler New Yorker/Plymouth Reliant/Dodge Aries, Chrysler New Yorker/Plymouth Voyager/Dodge Caravan, Chrysler LeBaron/Plymouth Caravelle/Dodge Lancer (i’m forgetting all of the K-car variants).

      1990’s: Plymouth/Dodge Neon (they didn’t even bother to change the model name with that one), Plymouth Breeze/Chrysler Cirrus/Dodge Stratus, Eagle Vision/Dodge Intrepid/Chrysler Condorde-300M

      I could go on. Bottom line: rebadging is nothing new. At least Infiniti/Acura/Lexus had the foresight to rebody their Nissan/Honda/Toyota cousins and not simply rebadge them.

      See: Cadillac Cimmaron. YUCK.

      Take the Caliber with you, and don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

  • avatar

    What’s so “wretched” about the Avenger? Maybe you tried a 2008 and haven’t driven one since, but the 2011 I rented last year with the V6 was much better than the Malibu I rented a few weeks earlier. The ride, handling and steering were much better, and the Pentastar V6 made it more interesting to drive than a V6 Camry.

    The rear seat is tight, the trunk is small and fuel economy is so-so, but the upgraded interior and included extras, added to pretty good reliability, make it a very competitive car. The only thing I’ve noticed is that putting all the “right” options on it brings the price into 200 territory. It may simply make more sense to sell the 200 and it’s future replacement at the higher transaction price.

    Dodge probably won’t be going away. It’ll likely be easier to sell re-skinned smaller Fiat (and Alfa) models as Dodges at a decent price. Sergio knows he won’t be selling many Fiats in Europe in the near future. That may be the whole idea behind reserving midsized and larger cars, with higher margins, for the Chrysler nameplate.

    • 0 avatar

      The highest trim of the Avenger (Lux) did not make the jump from 2011 to 2012. So no more leather Avengers. This will help to create seom room between the current Avenger and 200.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a brand new one as a rental a couple weeks ago. Despite the fact that the interior is a HUGE improvement over the original, it is still a complete turd. Of course, mine did not have the V6, but I can’t imagine a turd with more power than the suspension could possibly know what to do with would be any better.

      Frankly, I am astounded that Chrysler manages to sell 1/2 the volume of the Camry in the Dodge and Chysler versions combined. I loath Camrys but this thing is just bad.

      • 0 avatar

        I drove a ’11 SXT with the V6 last summer (You can get the V6 in the SXT in Canada), and I thought it was an absolute blast, miles nicer than the similar Accord V6 I drove at the same time. Steering wasn’t quite as sharp, but still plenty precise, the interior is much nicer, and the Pentastar gives it some serious butt-hauling potential. A little bit of torque steer if you keep it in select-shift and stomp on the gas, but very predictable and actually kind of fun.

        Also, you can get leather with the R/T version still, and with the SXT Plus in Canada. (Dunno why it’s gotten so shafted for options in the USA)

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      The V6 is sweet, but then so are the big-name rivals’, and in the Avenger it yanks the front end around.

      I also thought the cloth front seats felt like 7/8th scale models of seats. I was sitting *on* both side bolsters, and I weigh 165.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, the cloth seats on the current 200/Avenger models seem tiny! I’m even lighter too. I don’t remember the seats on the pre-facelift models having the same feel.

  • avatar

    Are there any standalone Dodge dealers left? Because if so, I feel bad for the salesman whose customer is looking at a Dart and says, “Gee, it’s just a bit too small.”

    Sure, the Avenger doesn’t sell in big numbers, but this is the freaking midsize segment we’re talking about. Can a mainstream brand simply not offer one?

  • avatar

    Someone at FIAT/Chrysler is assuming that those 64,000 Dodge Avenger customers will buy a 200 instead.

  • avatar

    No one will miss it and the resources are badly needed to produce a more competitive 200. I had an almost new 200 as a rental a couple of weeks ago and it needs all the improvement it can get. It makes the Malibu seem like a luxury sports car.

  • avatar

    It’s really ugly, although not as bad as the caliber. kill it!

  • avatar

    With a V6 option I found the 200 better than the Malibu, and I own a Malibu! I test drive the 200. I find most new GM cars with V4s woefully underpowered and noisy. It almost makes you wish for the return of the crude 3.5l V6 GM put in their cars several years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Rob Finfrock

      To be fair to GM, any car with a V4 would be awful.

    • 0 avatar

      OK, now that we’ve had our fun, I would like to affirm the commenter’s opinion of GM 4-bangers. The Ecotec, at least in the incarnations I have driven, sounds and feels like a tractor engine in comparison to the I4’s from other leading and emerging brands. It’s noisy under throttle and rough at high revs, although basically competent. I wonder why it seems so much less refined than all the others.

  • avatar

    Remember when Chrysler didn’t even bother to give the Neon different names for Dodge vs. Plymouth? Hopefully the demise of the Avenger is a sign that consumers have grown wise and cynical about badge engineering.

  • avatar

    Wow, I honestly forgot Dodge still made the Avenger. I don’t think I’ve witnessed one ever on the road?

    • 0 avatar

      Two days ago I saw one for the first time — from the the front. Most certainly a Dodge because of the crosshair grill and but it looked like a 200 from the side. I had to google “Dodge 200” to find out what it was. Completely forgot they existed.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Sigh. I prefer the styling of the Avenger over the 200.

    • 0 avatar

      But what’s not to like with the 200’s faux Audi LED-laced headlights? lol

      They should just rebadge the Lancia Delta, bring it to NA and be done with it. They already do it in reverse (Voyager, Thema).

  • avatar

    It can go. It will create an opportunity to up-sell for the Charger. Someone who doesn’t want a compact may like a V6 Charger.

    • 0 avatar

      I suspect the Charger will go next. To push people towards the 300.

      And at that point how much sense does it make to keep Dodge around at all?

      Without the Avenger and Caravan the Dart will have to be a monumental hit to keep Dodge’s numbers up, which nice as it looks, is a bit of a long shot.

      • 0 avatar

        Frankly, cancelling the Avenger isn’t such a bad idea IF there’s something Dart-like in the pipeline to replace it at some point in the future.

        It seems like part of Sergio’s grand scheme to makeover the entire Chrysler line-up. Between the 200 and Avenger, the 200 sells better, so the Avenger gets the axe now, but Dodge will be the recipient of any future replacement for that market (which would then eventually replace the 200, as well).

        If that’s the game plan then, yeah, I can see the Charger being next to go, too.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, the Charger is staying, but it will actually be shrinking slightly to differentiate it from the 300 and to take part of the Avenger’s market.

        The current estimation is that the 200 will be the all-things-to-all-people Chrysler group midsize, and the almost-a-midsize Dart and soon-to-be-small-for-a-full-size Charger will cover those who really want a Dodge.

  • avatar

    The other day i saw MAzda, Kia , Honda, and Chrysler car lots in a row; the Chrysler lot was a whole bag of ugly. Just thought I’d be a ray of sunshine here.

  • avatar

    I don’t see why Chrysler would want to keep both the Dodge Dart and the Avenger. The Dart is clearly going to be a better car. If the Avenger died tomorrow, no one would shed a tear

  • avatar

    The Avenger is expendable in part because it is so close in specs to the Dodge Dart. Allpar’s spinoff site, has the specs on the new Dart. The lightest Dart weighs 3173 lbs (3297 with the 2.4 liter engine), and it has a 97 cubic foot interior. These figures are very close to the Avenger.

  • avatar

    Anyone else remember the ads for the introduction of the Avenger, with the guy in the lab coat testing powertrains and discovering he could play ‘Smoke on the Water’ with the Avenger’s transmission?

  • avatar

    Years ago, probably before the Daimler takeover, Chrysler said it would introduce the concept of “checkerboarding” into its lineup. For example, if Dodge offered a midsize sedan, Chrysler would not offer a badge-engineered equivalent. Of course, this never happened, except for the demise of Plymouth, which was planned in any case.

    Now, maybe under Sergio, it will finally happen.

  • avatar

    One of my neighbor’s idiot kids had a brand new Avenger. She was drinking and driving and crashed it into a tree. Only a month later she got a brand new Dodge Charger.


  • avatar

    On one hand, it makes little sense for the company to build two midsize sedans that compete with one another.

    On the other hand, it’s odd to have a brand that includes a compact (Dart) and a full-size (Charger), but nothing in between.

    The branding concept is still too muddy. Chrysler is supposedly poised to be a near-luxury brand (as if the world needed yet another alternative to Buick), which itself is a narrow and ambiguous niche in which to play. I suppose that it isn’t as bad for Chrysler, since all of these cars will be parked on the same dealer lots, but it isn’t exactly compelling, either.

    • 0 avatar

      “The branding concept is still too muddy.”

      +1 With Ram split off, the Viper going to the “SRT” brand (not a Dodge), and the minivans being consolidated at Chrysler brand, it appears that Chrysler will be traditional family cars, and Dodge will be a motley mix of CUVs, muscle cars and a compact sedan. Sounds like Dodge will have its market share cleaved by 50% from where it was just a few years ago. What will this do for name recognition over time?

  • avatar

    How ironic. Plymouth Divison went down the tubes thanks entirely to models being badge-engineered, virtually identical Dodges for decades. But now, Chrysler intends to dump off a model that doesn’t share any body panels with its Chrysler brethern.

  • avatar

    I have rented the Avenger this weekend. Driving in snow with the car is ridiculous. It stopped moving going uphill. What the heck? And, it operates without any regard for traction. I have driven extensively in all kinds of snowy conditions, and this is by far the worst car I have ever driven.

    Some other downsides, is no back windshield wiper. . . what’s up with that!? And, it’s very difficult to get in and out of. I’m 5’7″, and bumped my head on the driver door frame. . . feel like the car’s caving in! And, to adjust the seat, you have to jam your hand between the seat and the door to adjust electronically. I wonder what guys do that have larger hands than me. They probably need to open the door before adjusting the seat. Ridiculous. And the windshield wipers are constantly icing up and are totally ineffective. Guys. . . I think it’s back to the drawing board with this car.

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • Master Baiter: You might be able to cheat the government for a while by purchasing an EV, but rest assured, even if...
  • zerofoo: Near as makes no difference 80 grand for an old engine in a vehicle that doesn’t benefit much from it....
  • WalterRohrl: Haha, yeah, just…no. People here have figured you out, most just won’t waste the time on you...
  • EBFlex: Imagine a company with such a poor track record with quality, especially with electronics, making an electric...
  • EBFlex: “ And I’m the one that gets called out for snark. Ha!” As you should

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber