Dodge Avenger 2.0L SE 2007
No-one minces their words when it comes to the new Dodge Avenger; you’ll either be in awe or in horror of its stealth-like image. But for those who dare to take a test drive there’s a few pleasant surprises in store…
Avenger 2.0L SE
Before you is the Chrysler groups’ answer to the Kia Magnetis and the Hyundai Sonata; in other words it’s their first D-segment car targeted at families on a more conservative budget. It’s being pitched as the car that’s the size of a seven-series but priced like a three-series and it’s set to reach British showrooms by September 2007.
So how likely are us Europeans to take to this menacing Dodge Avenger? Right now the public perception is pretty mixed; some of us are way to snobby or stayed to like it and others are bowled over by its looks alone. Okay it’s not quite as groundbreaking as Chrysler’s PT Cruiser or the 300C but it does have tremendous presence. Where else would you see a snow-plough-sized lower lip and incorporated foglights aside from a ‘Fast and the Furious’ film? The cross-hair grille is then its signature piece with its rugged shoulder line and flared arches backing up its sporty demeanour.
Now sizing up the market, more and more manufacturers are building cars that are factory tuned or have meaty bodykits; these are often launched as limited edition models and are sold in frugal numbers. The Dodge Avenger will certainly appeal to those who want to make a statement but who are also keen on comfort and fuel economy. Happily the Avenger’s engines are also very capable, performing best at motorway speeds.
You’ve got the choice of two petrol engines; a 2.0-litre and a 2.4-litre as well as a 2.0-litre turbo diesel. The entry level petrol model sends up to 138bhp to the front wheels and provides 229lb ft between 1750 and 2500rpm. Accelerating from 0-62.5mph takes a good 11 seconds however once you’ve built up speed it will keep finding momentum right up until 118mph. The 2.0-litre SXT manual model offers that bit more pulling power (154bhp @ 6300rpm) and you also get more convenience like electric front windows and steering wheel mounted audio controls. The electrically operated eight way adjustable driver seat on the SXT allows you exactly the right driving set up and the leather trimmed seats takes the attention away from the cheaper looking plastics on the dash.
Dodge has clearly invested money on its safety features giving us plenty of airbag protection, traction control and ABS as well as all the necessary considerations for strapping in babies and children. The versatility of the Avenger also warrants commendation with its 438 litres of boot space as well as the option to fold every seat bar the driver’s completely flat and with relative ease. Despite the Avenger looking meaty however the doors don’t close with the same satisfying clunk that you’d hear on a Mazda6 or a Toyota Avensis.
When on the move though, the drive is satisfactory having been enhanced by the saloon’s long wheelbase and wide track which gives it improved stability and road holding. Independently sprung wheels offer higher levels of comfort and control meaning most ruts are absorbed and passengers are prevented from too much Elvis-like pelvis swinging. Head and leg room is more than ample but road noise still pervades through the cabin even with the extra sealants and special sound-deadening materials.
The Avenger’s starting price of £14,995 is very fair and what it lacks in refinement and flair it tends to make up in practical terms. In fact if you look at it as a stand alone product you could be quite content but because the gap between Korean and European manufacturing is slowely closing in, the expectations of any newcomer are also getting higher. In this sense American models still tend to be stuck fighting it out with other lower budget models. It`s true that the Avenger appeals to our recreational interests and our image-conscious egos but many enthusiasts would go well beyond their means to own a car that feels special and makes a journey memorable.
In this sense some will opt for a car that’s more orthodox when it comes to handling, others will be more pragmatic and see it as a decent sized family car that’s cut out for lots of usage. Whatever way you see it, it certainly brings more diversity in to its segment and will stand out as being unique.