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2013 Dodge Avenger Review By Steve Purdy

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2013 Dodge Avenger


By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

One of the few midsize sedans from a mainstream manufacturer that has not been fully updated is our test car this week – the Dodge Avenger, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger family sedan. It’s just a bit long in the tooth as we compare it to other products in its class but it is not without its charm and considering price, performance and content, we’ll not hesitate to recommend you put it on your shopping list if you’re in that market segment.

Avenger’s design, like other Chrysler products, eschews conventional swoopy styling trends in favor of their own muscular, boxy look. Actually, I find that design refreshing as I do bigger sibling, the rear-wheel drive Charger. Avenger feels like just a smaller Charger, in fact. The crosshatch grille along with the car’s entire profile makes its Dodge identity clear. Simple headlight and taillights combine with slightly bulging wheel arches and square, high tail to give it a slightly retro image.

Our test car is powered by a meaty 3.6-liter, 24-valve V6 with variable valve timing and dual exhaust, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Dodge specs say the output is 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet or torque and that’s good for a 0-to-60 mph time of less than 7 seconds. At low end and easy throttle it feels rather anemic because of the transmissions tuning but get it up around 3,000 rpm or just put your foot in it and it feels quite enthusiastic. Rated at 19-mpg in the city, 29 on the highway and 22-mpg combined it’s reasonably efficient. The base 4-cylinder engine is rated at only 2-mpg better in the city, the same on the highway and 2-mpg better combined compared to the V6. So, I would go for the V6 in a minute.

The SE model is at the bottom of three trim levels in the Avenger lineup. It can be had with either this flex-fuel V6 or a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. The smaller engine makes a decent 173 horsepower and comes with an anachronistic 4-speed automatic. Base price is $18,995 and our V6 engine and six-speed transmission adds just about $2,000 to the price. We also have an appearance package for $505, power/heated front seats costing $550, Uconnect (satellite radio, Bluetooth, USB, streaming audio and voice control) for $395 and 18-inch wheels with special tires for $195. Our sticker shows a total price of $23,825.

Driving hard with this powerful V6 version of the Avenger I found a bit disconcerting at times primarily because of excessive torque steer. The suspension allowed a bit more movement than I prefer, though most drivers would probably be perfectly happy with it since it errs on the side of a softer ride. Steering feel, along with other driver interactions with the car, are good.

Interior design is good, but certainly not trendy. Seats are comfortable and reasonably generous for a midsize car with a fairly high front seating position. The design of the instrument panel and dash are pleasantly simple and materials are better than expected. Fit and finish are very good. Interior volume is about in the middle of its class as is cargo capacity. Rear seat backs fold 60/40 but access to the trunk is limited by a bulkhead. The trunk will swallow 13.4 cubic-feet of your stuff, which is somewhat less than best in class.

The Dodge new car warranty covers the whole car for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 100,000 miles.

Overall, we’d have to say that the V6 Avenger is fun enough to drive, confortable and essentially in the middle of the pack in most categories.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved