This review originally appeared in the May edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg
Sacramento, California -- Chrysler juiced up the Dodge Avenger sedan in 2009, and accompanying that move, it proceeded to fall into the depths of economic hell.
Perhaps that explains why you need a scorecard to catch up with the hottest-performing Avenger, produced by a recently rejuvenated Chrysler. Happily, I’ve taken a spin in both the 2010 Avenger R/T and the 2011 Avenger Heat.
Confused? Relax, I’ll explain.
For the 2010 model year, the top-performing Avenger was indeed called an R/T, a rear wing-equipped, most-capable car that could be had with a 3.5-liter V-6 putting out some 235 horses. The interior was predictably Chrysler-simple, and quiet enough. You see this car for sale with low mileage on a used-car site, you would not be called a dope for snapping it up.
But the 2011 Heat – the name for the top-line of four trim levels of 2011 Avengers – is a serious upgrade. And it’s a relative bargain starting at $23,745. The power plant has been boosted to a 3.6-liter machine blasting out 283 horses. Doesn’t take a genius why the Dodge boys opted for the word “Heat” to describe this particular Avenger.
The engine with variable valve timing is a road-tamer of serious stature. The engine’s growl is not transmitted to the cockpit, but the power source is muscular enough to overmatch the suspension on hard, high-speed corners. Handle with care, as this small-looking sedan will slide on you if you overdrive it on twisty mountain roads.
On the flatlands, it’s a blast, outrunning much of what is out there in midsize form.
The interior remains a study in basic simplicity, and the seats are comfortable in the front. Adult, rear-seat occupants will suffer if the front seat riders don’t show some courtesy and move their chairs forward just a bit.
Gas mileage is a pretty good 19 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. There are blind spots that the mirrors can’t pick up on both sides of the car, so I had to keep my head on a swivel at high speeds in freeway traffic.
The Avenger has taken some shots with the more-famous Dodge Challenger and Charger models available for sale, and some auto-reviewing snobs have suggested avoiding the Avenger in favor of an upcoming sedan offering from Fiat.
I can’t really buy into that. The 2011 Dodge Avenger Heat is a nice-priced sedan that can give you a heart-racing thrill now and again. What more do you want?