The Avenger name is pretty sweet, evoking an image of speeding through an apocalyptic wasteland, charging toward a moment in time where revenge can finally, deliciously be exacted upon those who have wronged you. If you bought a 2008–2010 Avenger, of course, that group of offenders would include Dodge—the name was among the car’s few redeeming qualities. While it was an okay effort, delivering a modicum of sportiness and a dash of style, a low-buck interior and coarse powertrains ultimately doomed the car to also-ran status in the family-sedan segment, as well as a seventh out of seven showing in its only comparison test.
And so Chrysler has rejiggered the Avenger for 2011, tweaking the powertrain lineup and installing a wholly redone interior, while at the same time bridging the gap until an ostensibly better replacement arrives within a couple of years.
The boorish 2.4-liter four-cylinder remains the base engine, although it now mates to an automatic transmission with six gears instead of four, and Dodge says the engine itself has been “recalibrated.” As on its mechanical twin, the Chrysler 200 (née Sebring), the V-6 option is now the company’s 3.6-liter Pentastar, mated to a six-speed auto and churning out an eye-popping-for-the-class 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The previous 235-hp, 232-lb-ft, 3.5-liter V-6 has been tossed into the great abyss.
To correct some of its predecessor’s sloppy dynamics, the 2011 Avenger receives a heavily reworked suspension, with what Chrysler says is “completely rethought” geometry. Twenty-six of the 30 suspension bushings have been retuned or redesigned, and the tires are wider, resulting in a track that grows by one inch. Dodge promises less body roll, sharper and more communicative steering, and fewer rattles.
The exterior changes are few, and include a new grille and revised front and rear fascias. It’s inside that the Avenger receives its biggest aesthetic overhaul, with the instrument panel, gauges, seats, HVAC vents, ambient lighting, steering wheel, center stack, and upholstery all being either all-new or heavily reworked. Dodge promises soft-touch materials for the armrests and IP, as well as upgraded plastics for the switchgear. The door panels have been redesigned, as has the center console, and our impression from both the photos and our experiences with recent Chrysler interiors is that the 2011 Avenger will be a hell of a lot better inside than before.
We’ll have to wait a few weeks to drive the car before we can verify whether the revisions have righted the previous Avenger’s wrongs, but even if it remains uncompetitive with the segment leaders, it’s clear the 2011 model will at least offer buyers more than just a cool name.
Thanks to: Car and Driver