The 2012 model year sees the introduction of the new Avenger R/T. The performance-oriented sedan features a 283-horsepower V-6 engine, a stiffer suspension and unique exterior and interior cues. The Avenger SE's base engine is a 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder engine that is strong and smooth, with acceleration performance that's better than adequate. It comes standard with a four speed automatic transmission. Avenger SXT models come with more equipment and the 6-speed automatic with the four-cylinder. The Avenger chassis is shared with the Chrysler Sebring, which was designed to be a convertible as well as a sedan, so the chassis is stiff and strong. You'll feel the tightness in both the cabin and handling. Dodge aced the suspension, and both ride quality and cornering response are excellent, benefits of that rigid chassis. The fine balance of comfort and handling contribute significantly to Avenger's appeal. This mid-size has earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick award.
The value built into the Dodge Avenger jumps out in the driving, because the car is more enjoyable to drive than some of the more expensive mid-size sedans. Both the base four-cylinder engine and the upgrade V6 are strong, with good fuel economy ratings. Handling is light and responsive around town. The ride is smooth, even over bad pavement, and the Avenger is generally quiet. Noise and vibration are well isolated from the cabin, and the harder you run it, the smoother the four-cylinder gets. It pushes the Avenger briskly, more than fast enough to keep up. There's very little body roll or undulation, better isolation of road shock, better steering precision and increased grip, thanks to wider tires.
The Avenger's dashboard is big and slabby, perhaps described as monolithic. The doors are well designed, with comfortable armrests, a good grab handle, door pockets, and small levers that make opening easy. The best part of the interior might be the expensive feel of the perforated leather on the steering wheel, standard on all but the base SE. The instrument package is a nicely lit cluster of three gauges, with the largest in the center and one on either inside. All models have a tach, and a fuel/temperature package on the left, with a digital display on the bottom that allows the driver to scroll various options. There's plenty of space for front passengers to put things, with two cupholders in the center console, behind a power point and audio jack. The console has a sliding armrest and a big storage box, and the glovebox holds a lot more than the owner's manual. Safety features on all models include multi-stage front air bags, front passenger side-impact airbags, full cabin head-protection curtains, electronic stability control (ESC), four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), active front head restraints and tire-pressure warning. The Avenger is rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The Avenger R/T, new for 2012, is most likely to stand out from the pack. It's easy to spot for its monochrome paint scheme, black headlight background and go-fast slash stripes on the front fenders. Yet the distinctions are mostly in-your-face graphics, rather than an inherently racy shape or look. The body-colored crosshair on the R/T grille helps some, and the black egg-crate in the grille and below the bumper is an improvement.
The front-drive Dodge Avenger sedan is available with four- and six-cylinder engines and two different automatic transmissions. Trim levels have been renamed for 2012, and there are five available.
Avenger SE is powered by a 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower I4, matched to a 4-speed automatic. Avenger SE comes standard with manual air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and remote locks, four-speaker audio with CD, cruise control, rear-window defroster and 17-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. SE options: SiriusXM satellite radio with one year subscription, Dodge's Uconnect voice command system with Bluetooth connectivity, and an engine-block heater.
Avenger SE V6 is equipped identically, except that it comes with a 3.6-liter, 283-hp V6 and a 6-speed automatic.
Avenger SXT comes with the four-cylinder, but upgrades to a 6-speed automatic. SXT also upgrades to eight-way power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, six-speaker audio with SiriusXM, automatic temperature control, body-color heated exterior mirrors and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
Avenger SXT Plus comes standard with the V6, premium cloth seats with red stitching, a 6.5-inch touch-screen media center, fog lamps, rear deck lid spoiler and 18-inch aluminum wheels. SXT options include a cold weather package with heated seats and remote start, a power sunroof and a Sun/Sound Package that adds the sunroof, GPS navigation and 276-watt Boston Acoustics audio.
Avenger R/T is the sport model, with the V6, firmer suspension, leather-bolstered sport seats and unique graphics inside and out. It comes standard with the cold weather package and Boston Acoustics audio. Options are limited to the sunroof and navigation.
Recent improvements make the Dodge Avenger a contender, delivering more bang for the buck than most competitors. Its interior still isn't the richest or most sophisticated in this class, but it's roomy, quiet, straightforward and effective, like the car in general. The ride/handling balance is excellent. With a choice of engines, a range of models and good mileage ratings, the Avenger mates value and features with prices that are hard to beat. Click here for more information on the 2012 Dodge Avenger.Some of the information for this review was obtained through newcartestdrive.com
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