Dodge Avenger Dies So Dart, 200 Can Thrive
The launch of the Chrysler 200 means Chrysler has to make some decisions about its future; and the most likely course of action for them is to kill off the Dodge Avenger, right away.
Sources tell TTAC that the Avenger will die rather soon. Expect sales to wrap up before the end of 2014. There will be no replacement, nor will the Avenger be transitioned to fleet-only duty, like the W-Body Chevrolet Impala – meaning our EIC pro tem will be out of luck at the rental counter.
Even though the Avenger’s R&D has long been paid for, its mere existence continues to cause headaches for Chrysler. Prevailing wisdom holds that the larger, cheaper and vastly more powerful Avenger has been cannibalizing sales of the Dart. Chrysler has previously stated that only one mid-size sedan will live on in its future product plan s, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Avenger? No, it is not - even with a mat black wrap and 5% tint. The name never fit the car.
I'd much rather drive my 20K-mile Dart Limited 1.4T/6MT than any Avenger. I've driven all 20K like I stole it and it still feels very solid. Sure I'd love to have 20 more hp and lb-ft but it's still a fun car to drive. I'd much rather drive a car that I can use 100% of on the street than one where I can only use 50% or 25% of its capability.
What we got here is a failure of Sergio to know diddly-squat about the car business. He's a brilliant finance guy, but you NEVER just drop a model without a replacement ready. He's been in charge of Fiat for ten years and got by with just two bread and butter popular models, the Punto and Panda, having killed off past models, especially Alfa, with no replacements ready, as he did with the 159, and the Punto. Now he's in the process of killing off whole nameplates, first with Lancia, and soon with Dodge. Don't think the Dart means Dodge is in the clear, It can always be rebadged as a Fiat Effluvia, or some such. Even the Chrysler nameplate will be at risk, since it's not a good seller outside of North America, and Sergio has delusions of a "world car" lineup sold everywhere. If John Elkann has any brains, he'll put a car guy in charge as CEO and limit Sergio's role to finance once the "new" merged company is organized.
Very late to the party on this, but if anything screams "Dodge Dart", it's the Avenger. Granted, I've driven an Avenger as a rental, and while I wouldn't buy one, as it didn't excite me in the least, it is a very capable car and has more in common - in spirit, that is - with the Darts of old. The upright stance appeals to many older buyers like me for being a taller car, and easy to enter and exit, which has a value all its own. Tweak the exterior styling a wee bit and it'll do well. Dodge should keep this, and relegate the current Dart as a Daytona or some other name from its past.