By on May 3, 2021

2008 Dodge Avenger R/T in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen I began traveling the country to work for the 24 Hours of Lemons, back in 2008, I began experiencing the joys of renting the very cheapest cars (that could haul four adults and all their stuff) available at airports in places like Charlotte and Philadelphia. That’s when I discovered the Dodge Avenger and its Journey platform-mate. These fleet-spec Avengers were not good cars, to put it mildly, but we’d speculate— jokingly— on how amazing the factory-hot-rod R/T version must be as we sliced our fingers on door-handle casting flash and listened to the wind shrieking through the sub-par door seals. Here’s one of those mythical Avenger R/Ts, found in a Denver self-service yard.

2008 Dodge Avenger R/T in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen you bought the ’08 Avenger R/T, you got the big V6 engine, dual exhaust, a pretty decent audio system, and a “sport-tuned” suspension. By the way, this is the “Inferno Red” paint.

2008 Dodge Avenger R/T in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn this case, the engine was the 3.5-liter version of the Pentastar’s predecessor, the SOHC V6. That’s 235 all-Detroit horsepower, rather than the 173 horses wheezed out by the base 2.4 Mitsubishi/Chrysler/Hyundai four-banger. Later versions of the Avenger R/T got a 283-hp Pentastar.

2008 Dodge Avenger R/T in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI tried my best to get the FCA press-car people to loan me one of those hot-rod Avengers, but they just wanted me to write about Challengers or Wranglers or anything not as embarrassing as the Avenger. After 2013, the Avenger R/T was gone, with the Avenger itself getting the ax the following year.

2008 Dodge Avenger R/T in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLike so many Chryslers, the 2008-2014 Avenger lived on a Mitsubishi platform, in this case, the same one still used by the Outlander.

2008 Dodge Avenger R/T in Colorado junkyard, speedometer - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhat I really wanted was to do, back in the era of my obsession with the Avenger R/T, was to set up a drag race between the 2013 Avenger R/T and the 2013 Chevy Malibu with the 259hp Ecotec engine. Excitement would have ensued!

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23 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2008 Dodge Avenger R/T...”

  • avatar

    The Avenger wasn’t a bad-looking car but I can testify to its 4 cyl version being absolute crap. I had once as a rental on a trip to Chicago for business back in 2008. Absolutely awful. On a business trip to Georgia, Avis tried putting me in one. I said no way. I told them to put me in a subcompact and charge me the rate for the Avenger if they had to. I got a Mercury Grand Marques instead

  • avatar

    I wonder what killed this stalwart? Surely that rear end damage wasn’t enough and I’m guessing the front bumper was removed for parts.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Were Avengers truly ‘bad’ cars or is it just that their driving dynamics didn’t meet the expectations of reviewers who generally focus on aspects that the people shopping these vehicles aren’t interested in.

    For example 5 passenger Dodge Journeys seem quite popular for retirees in my neighbourhood and some of my co-workers who are on tight budgets. The majority seem pleased with the ‘value’ that they have received from these Journeys. And none are interested in pushing their vehicle to its driving ‘limits’.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’ve never driven a Journey you’d never know how hateful those cars are. They propel themselves via NVH instead of internal combustion. It’s no surprise that the “poors” would be happy with them considering their options, and the “olds” don’t care any more as long as the appliance gets them to the pharmacy and grocery store reliably.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think they are “bad cars” as much as there are much better options. They are slabs of mediocrity and tend to get used up faster than offerings from any other brands that I can think of. When you start scanning the roads for long in the tooth Chrysler cars you come up short. The cloud cars used to be everywhere and its a rare thing to spot a stratus and its brethren now.

      • 0 avatar

        Probably a function of very poor resale value – to me, “used up” means it’s cheaper to dump it than fix it. This one probably had quite a bit of useful life left in it.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, saw a battered white first-gen Stratus out the other day. First impression was “Wow, those are rare these days.” Had the window open while parked, somehow giving the impression that either the A/C has been broken for 10 years and the owner never bothers to roll it up, or maybe the window regulator is broken.

    • 0 avatar

      “on aspects that the people shopping these vehicles aren’t interested in.”

      I’m pretty sure people shopping something called “Avenger R/T” cared more than zero about dynamics.
      If they can’t back it up then the manufacturer shouldn’t make the trim.

    • 0 avatar

      The earlier ones were really bad. The 2.4 engine emitted more sound than power which meant it felt taxed most of the time and the car was poorly built with not enough sound deadening to overcome that.
      The interiors were also horrible. It was all cheap, hard plastics. At least the Journey had some soft plastics from the get go.
      THe 2011 refresh brought soft plastics to the Avenger and a few more soft spots to the Journey but the driving dynamics were still poor.
      For the record I’ve driven 3 Avengers including a late model one, all with the rental grade 4 cyl. It was just no bueno.
      And the Journey…. well they feel like snells but two of my relatives own 4 cyl models and the early one has logged 150K miles on the original engine and 4 spd auto. Not too bad for one of the darkest times in Chrysler’s history.

      Would I give it a try with the Pentastar? I own a Pentastar powered vehicle and it’s been great, but I wouldn’t own an Avenger. I think I’d save a few more pennies and go with the fancier last generation 200

  • avatar

    Chrysler’s darkest days for sure… these and the Jeep Patriot’s were the foundation of airport rental fleets in the day and all we’re awful. The Avenger and whatever it’s Chrysler brand-mate was named were mostly let down by awful interiors, a thrashy and unispiring engine and mundane ride and handling dynamics. They were built to the lowest possible price point and succeeded and living up to that measuring stick. The Patriot was even worse, with the 2.0L/CVT powertrain under duress at most any speed and an interior that would make Mattel blush. I was on a 3-week driving vacation from Florida to Maine and back when Hertz in Albany NY foisted a Patriot on me in exchange for the perfectly nice Ford Escape that had it’s oil change light on since I left Florida with it. Herts insisted the Patriot was the “same class” as the Escape, clearly they’d never driven them back to back. The Patriot earned it’s #1 ranking in my “rental cars I’ll never drive again” list, handily outpointing the Avenger, Nissan Sentra and any Chevy Cavalier that had previously topped the list. I’m not a wealthy person by any means but I give thanks that I’ve never been forced to consider one of these penalty boxes as my personal transportation.

    • 0 avatar

      I can certainly agree on the Patriot. I had one as a rental back in 2015 or 2016 for a three hour (one way) trip. This was hands down the worst vehicle I have ever driven in the 21st Century. The Chevy Sonic was pretty bad too but only because I had that for a highway trip. I think it would have been fine for a jaunt around town. The Patriot though, terrible at anything.

      • 0 avatar

        The Avenger 2.4 I had for an insurance rental in 2013 was literally the worst car I’ve ever driven! A Yugo might have had more driving dynamics! And that wheezy engine! Yuck!

        A Jeep Compass I had a couple years later was almost as bad, with the 6-speed automatic versus the 4-speed in the Avenger being the saving grace.

    • 0 avatar

      It happened to me while on a business trip in Orlando. I received a 2013 Malibu that had a dead keyfob by day 2 after I picked it up from Sixt. I called Sixt to report the issue with hopes of either getting the keyfob replaced or get a new car. By the time I got there they didn’t have any Malibus nor midsize sedans left. The only option I was given was to take an Avenger, maybe the keyfob didn’t require just a battery after all or the people working there were just lazy.

      There were only Avengers so I hit the road in one of those. One of the worst cars I’ve rented next to the 2nd gen Versa and a Hyundai economy car in Mexico.

      Noisy, underpowered, poor fuel economy (thanks 4 spd auto), very few amenities, unfinished-looking front end, the list goes on. And keep in mind, I wasn’t comparing it with anything outlandish, I was coming from a pretty average Malibu…

  • avatar
    Ben T Spanner

    I also live in God’s waiting room, SW Florida. A local dealer still has 2 or 3 2019 brand new Dodge Journey’s. They all have 4 doors, 4 cylinders, and 4 speed automatics; all for your motoring enjoyment

  • avatar

    Rented more than my share of four-cylinder Avengers and 200Cs, but don’t think I ever got the V6. But the same principle applies here as it does everywhere else—a bad car with a powerful engine isn’t a good car, it’s a fast bad car.

    Didn’t like the interior, the handling, or the NVH (although the latter was a bit better with the Chrysler version). I’m sure these were good value at rock bottom prices, though, although if your budget is that limited I’m not sure it makes sense to get a fuel-thirsty V6.

    • 0 avatar

      There was a period where you could get an Avenger SE with the Pentastar for subcompact money. I still wouldn’t call it “good” but at that price I don’t think I’d call it fully “bad” either.

      • 0 avatar

        My old co worker got either an SE or SXT with the Pentastar and redesigned interior. She got it for something like $16k. Id concur it was not “desirable” but with a reasonable engine and not offensive interior (especially compared to this pictured one) it was fully acceptable transportation. At the low prices they offered them I could see them finding homes. This picture truly highlights how extensively the interior was reworked, I can’t imagine living with this one for more then 5 minutes

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I’ve seen a few Avengers with optional awd since it had the badging on the trunk lid. Apparently they were around for a few model years until they were dropped probably due to more folks choosing the more versatile Caliber.

  • avatar

    I rented Avenger once in Hawaii. What I did not like about it was lack of steering feel at low speeds which I found alarming. And interior was made of cheap grey plastic which you can easily scratch just by touching it. Of course I did not try to drive this car on winding mountain roads. But I can say the same thing about Nissan Maxima rental car I got in Maui. It felt ponderous and unwieldy.

  • avatar

    I definitely have a different opinion on the Avenger. When gas prices started going through the roof, in Oct 2007 I decided to trade in my Daytona Charger R/T (#741 in TorRed), for a 2008 Dodge Avenger R/T AWD. Yes, I have one of those rare R/T AWD. That car has absolutely everything you could order on it – including leather seats, sunroof, and UConnect. UConnect, at that time, was the best system on the market. That car is STILL my daily driver. Knock on wood, it has never stranded me anywhere. Until this Spring, I’ve only put in the usual maintenance costs like brakes and tires. I will have to get the AC fixed this year. I got the 6 cyl, and while it doesn’t have as much power as my Charger did, it still can beat most of the cars out there. While I won’t take that car on a long distance vacation, it’s a great car to take around the city.

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