Avenger is a pretty cool name. It sounds like the moniker that would be given to a muscled black guy in a long trench coat and shades who acts as a vigilante on the mean streets of LA, seeking retribution¦looking moody¦kicking ass.
But that’s not the Dodge Avenger. It more just negotiates in a friendly way with bad guys, ruffles their hair a little bit and sends them on their way. It is a comfortable family-sized four-door sedan/saloon with hints of coupe in the styling, and some enormous shoulders above the rear wheels that have to carry this brawny image.
Equipped with two-tone leather seats, the inside of the Avenger’s interior looks stylish. Its interior appointments are excellent for a car in this class and price range. A heating/cooling cup holder, driver and passenger seat heaters that would melt an iceberg, plenty of storage, a trip computer, easy-to-read instrumentation and a fully telescopic adjustable steering wheel makes for a relaxed drive.
This ‘relaxation unfortunately extends through to the engine. It doesn’t ‘avenge’ in the power department, with a 2.4-litre mill that does not unleash fury on the tarmac like a car called the Avenger should. Converting the power to the road is a four-speed automatic that also features a sequential shift with Dodge’s unusual left/right action for changing up and down.
If you are content to cruise comfortably, the Avenger is perfect — handling is not too firm, and it’s not like a quivering, cowardly weakling either. Disk brakes all around hide behind 18-inch alloys shod in 215/55 rubber that haul the Avenger to a stop smartly. You could easily go to 19- or 20-inch wheels which would fill the Avenger’s arches out better. Unusually angled styling on the front bumper would be better matched to larger wheels as it makes the Avenger look like it’s travelling on suspension that needs lowering a couple of inches.
Multi-stage airbags — front, side and curtain — coupled with ESP, ABS and a collapsible steering column protect occupants in the event of an accident.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Avenger is the optional MyGIG multimedia infotainment system which includes a DVD player and 20Gb hard drive. Mated to a six-speaker Boston Acoustics system, the 276W amp is more than adequate to cause tinnitus. You can upload songs from your portable music player or computer via a USB. MyGIG will play MP3/WMA-format files, and there’s an auxiliary in for your iPod. The MyGIG panel is a large (just under 7-inches diagonal) 16:9 touch-sensitive screen that encompasses all the audio functions, from changing the radio station to uploading a photo to display with your music. While the car is stationary it’s possible to watch DVDs on the screen. So, I cracked open The Who’s ‘The Kids Are Alright’ widescreen edition double DVD. Chapter 37 on disk one is a studio session of ‘Who Are You.’ And that sums up the Dodge Avenger. After all this talk of how friendly and plush the Avenger is for the money, should it be called the Dodge Appeaser? Yes: it’s a comfy car that is easy to make friends with, but for kicking ass, the engine doesn’t quite cut it. Who are you? I really wanna know.
Price: from $38,990 ($33,990 for SE version)
What we like
- MyGIG stereo (optional) is cool
- Large boot
- Passenger comfort
What we don’t like
- Wrong engine for this car — nowhere near enough power, and not the right sound
- Stereo over bassy
- Small rear window means you’ll most likely want the optional Parksense reversing sensors
- Optimistic fuel consumption figures (8.9l/100km)
Words and photos Darren Cottingham