2009 Dodge Avenger Expert Review

You'll Like The 2009 Dodge Avenger If...

If you've got a muscle-car mindset but are in the market for the balance offered by a mid-size sedan at an affordable price, the Avenger is the most NASCAR-esque option out there.

You May Not Like The 2009 Dodge Avenger If...

From the powertrains to the passenger cabin, the Avenger doesn't deliver the same feeling of refinement as many of its competitors.

What's New

Dark Slate Gray replaces Light Slate Gray as an interior color, while improvements in interior materials and sound deadening are added to all trims.

Interior Features

Compared to the best interiors in the segment – more and more of which are beginning to mimic the look and feel of a premium sedan's – the Avenger's passenger cabin sends out more of an entry-level vibe. On the other hand, its options list is one of the most sophisticated in the segment, with a hard-drive navigation/entertainment/communication system, rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a heated and cooled cupholder. In between the base cloth and available leather seating, the Avenger offers an exceptionally stain-resistant seat fabric. A fold-flat passenger seat doubles as a dinner table or desktop and, combined with the fold-flat rear seats, helps accommodate longer cargo.

Exterior Features

Unlike the Chrysler Sebring (that looks nothing like its Chrysler 300 big brother), the Avenger's strong rear shoulders, squarish taillamps and sloping roofline are all grafted with varying exactness from the Dodge Charger large sedan. All R/T models get a rear spoiler, chrome-tipped dual exhaust outlets, fog lights and 18-inch chrome wheels.

Driving Impressions

While the Dodge Avenger rides nicely, handles decently and conveys its occupants from here to there no worse for wear, it does it all with less refinement than the category's best. Acceleration isn't as effortless, upshifts aren't as smooth and highway cruising isn't quite as relaxed. To add perspective, though, the segment leaders with which the Dodge must be compared are widely considered some of the best vehicles on the road. The Avenger is indeed on par with its most like-minded competitor, the Pontiac G6. Unremarkable road manners notwithstanding, when loaded up with uconnect tunes, a rear-seat DVD system and the heated and cooled cupholder, some may find the Avenger one of the most entertaining cars in the category.

Pricing Notes

The 2009 Dodge Avenger starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $20,500 and will extend past $30,500 for a fully loaded R/T model. Our Fair Purchase Prices have reflected real-world selling prices several hundred dollars shy of those MSRPs. The Pontiac G6 and Nissan Altima, two performance-themed competitors, start for about the same amount of money. Compared with category leaders like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Altima, the Avenger's higher feature content at any given price is countered in part by lower projected resale values.

Notable Equipment

A base-equipped Avenger SE includes an AM/FM/CD/CD-MP3 sound system with auxiliary input jack, air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control, four-way adjustable steering wheel, delayed-off headlamps, beverage-cooling upper glove compartment, cloth seats and 16-inch covered steel wheels. Standard safety equipment includes front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, but not anti-lock brakes.

Notable Options

The highlight of the Avenger's optional equipment list is the comprehensive uconnect navigation, entertainment and communication system. Other standouts include a six-CD/DVD/MP3/SIRIUS satellite sound system, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, Bluetooth cell phone connectivity, heated and cooled cupholder, heated front seats, leather seats and a sun roof.

Favorite Features

uconnect tunes
This optional hard drive-based system includes navigation with real-time traffic information, MP3/WMA music and JPEG image uploading via a high-speed USB port, auxiliary audio input, voice recognition, voice message recording and playback, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone connectivity and more.

Rear-Seat Entertainment
The Avenger's available rear-seat DVD video system – a feature uncommon in the segment – includes dual headphones plus audio and gaming capability.

Under the Hood

The Avenger's base four-cylinder engine delivers highway mileage of up to 30 miles per gallon, while the range-topping 3.5-liter V6 offers 235 horsepower. The 3.5-liter benefits from a new six-speed automatic transmission with Auto Stick manual-shift capability, while the other engines are matched to a traditional four-speed automatic. The electronically controlled all-wheel drive system available on R/T models operates primarily in front-wheel drive mode until extra traction is needed or anticipated. All R/T models also feature a sport-tuned suspension.

2.4-liter in-line 4
173 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
166 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30

3.5-liter V6
235 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
232 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/27

Editors' Notes

Offering bold, muscle car-like styling combined with a comfortable ride, predictable handling and reasonable fuel economy, the 2009 Dodge Avenger is the Dodge Charger of the mid-size sedan segment. Far from a ham-fisted hunk of steel, the Avenger offers an impressive list of comfort and convenience options, such as a navigation system with real-time traffic information and a heated and cooled cupholder. The Avenger is also one of the few cars in the segment to offer all-wheel drive.

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