2011 Dodge Avenger Heat - V6 Review
SEE ALSO: Dodge buyers Guide
2011 DODGE AVENGER HEAT V6
Contender for Most Improved
By Steve Purdy
With Fiat now managing Detroit’s smallest car company model updates are coming at a rapid pace with a new Durango, 300, Grand Cherokee, 200 and lots of others. I’ve driven most of them only around the block, so to speak, and have been looking forward to doing full reviews as they become available. A couple months ago I found the revised and updated Dodge Journey to be a contender for most improved and now here’s another for that competition.
Rather than use alpha-numeric designations Dodge has chosen to use semantic descriptors that have no automotive meaning for the Avenger line. This week we are testing the Avenger Heat –one of four trim levels for this mid size, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger sedan. The entry-level Express starts at $19,245, the Mainstreet starts at $21,340 and top-of-the-line Lux with the 4-cylinder engine starts at $23,745. Our sportier Heat, with V6 engine, shows a base price of $23,840.
The seats fit my broad beam well. I spent a good deal of time on the road with this one and felt not a twinge of cramp or discomfort as I often do when seats are too narrow or too hard. These were just right. The interior felt roomy as well. The back seat – with easily released 60/40 folding seat backs - is as generous as any in the class. With a reasonably high roofline, ingress and egress were relatively easy.
The new 3.6-liter, normally aspirated, Pentastar engine is a real thrill to drive. Mated to a quick and smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission (also new) it generates a good 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It feels just like you might expect from those numbers – strong. The EPA estimates mileage to be 19-mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. I drove it a lot this week and my experience validates that estimate. I managed an average of 26.8 mpg in a variety of driving environments using regular fuel.
This engine is, by the way, E85 capable as well, though you wouldn’t know it without reading the manual or sticker. There is no badge on the car. A few years ago that auto makers were proud of offering E85 capability, but no longer.
Suspension is fully independent and of conventional design with McPherson struts up front and multilink in the rear. While the geometry has not changed much the tuning has been brought up to date. This is not a sport sedan in spite of its modestly aggressive styling. It is tuned for a good balance between handling, confidence and comfort. In everyday driving – not charging into turns or challenging on-ramps – I found nothing to complain about, though not much to rave about either.
Steering has a fairly light touch with minimal feedback – a bit lighter than other cars in this class like Fusion, Sonata, Kizachi, and a raft of others. Most ergonomics are well thought through. I’m not fond of the radio tuner, though, an electronic function actuated by the touch screen. It’s called “Direct Tune” on the screen but it’s not very direct. A knob would be much more direct and precise.
The Dodge warranty covers the whole car for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 100,000 miles.
The Chrysler Sebring and last generation Avenger were just not up to par in the ever-stiffer competition in this, the largest segment in the car business. Now this updated version is much more competitive, though certainly not leading. While the driving experience is as tepid as any in the class it’s still a pleasant and competent car to live with.
© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved