Time for another one of my midnight car reviews. Sadly I didn't get the chance to try out my new "Top Gear" style filming technique so this will be a text review.
The car in question is a 2012 Dodge Avenger. After two months of driving it (then returning the car) I think it's time for a bit of a review!
Avenger...Avenger is an interesting name for a car. Avenger sounds heroic, powerful, and bad to the bone. Sadly, for the most part, Dodge's Avenger hasn't been living up to its great name. Maybe now it can redeem itself?
Start by just looking at the car, it has some styling cues from the Charger but at the same time it has its own bold lines. Indeed, it looks like a car you could see an "everyday superhero" driving. The car saw a nice facelift in 2011 that saw the end to some questionable design choices and the end result is something a lot more aggressive than before.
I particularly like the LED lighting in the rear.
Sadly, on this base SE model, you're stuck with wheel covers that just doesn't match the rest of the design as the rest of the car.
Moving onto the interior you're greeted to a comfortable environment. Reminiscent of the dashboards of the 1990's, the Avenger is covered in soft touch vinyl and shiny fabrics. Accenting the silver-y black fabrics are brushed metal trim pieces around the interior vents and speedometer. Everything feels quite nice to touch and even buttons and controls feel you know, chunky.
Your necessary buttons and toys are all laid out conveniently and made so that they're easy to use. There's very smart use of storage in this car as the center armrest converts into a twin tier storage center and there's even a backlit space under the HVAC controls. The cupholders have backlit rings around them and the door pulls are even trimmed in the soft touch material and leather. This particular soft touch material feels even softer than the Toyota Yaris' dashboard. And the only downfall is that it happens to collect a bit of dust.
The steering wheel takes care of Cruise Control and stereo controls as well.
If you're concerned about luggage, there's even a cavernous boot in the back.
In the SE version, toys are limited but satisfactory. There's an alarm, a 6 channel sound system with CD/MP3/Aux playback, Cruise Control, and automatic down windows.
By far, my favorite feature though is the instrument cluster.
But what about the drive?
So, you get into the Avenger, the interior already having you think you're about to embark on an adventure. Then you start the engine and get greeted by that instrument cluster. So far, so good...
The ride is quite forgiving considering it has a new "sport inspired" suspension. The sound system sounds pretty great for a stock system, lots of bass and a good amount of clarity. Sometimes a tad too bass-y though. Further improvements include sound dampening, the car is seriously quiet almost at any speed.
Okay, enough of that, what about the speed?
Well, it does, it does indeed speed! You'll be pulling 60 in around 7-8 seconds and top speed comes quite soon after.
Power is unleashed through a thirsty I4 2.4L engine punching out 174hp. All this is enough to spin the wheels on a WOT start though. Everything is connected together with front wheel drive and a 6 speed automatic gearbox.
There are a couple drawbacks to this, the most the EPA says you can get is 30mpg. During the two months, I averaged 25.3mpg. The other is the engine's sound. It's quiet. While that's a good thing at slow speed, it ruins the entire experience at full throttle.
With speed comes great responsibility, what about safety?
The IIHS rated the Avenger a Top Safety Pick and it has 6 airbags ready to inflate in the worst case scenarios.
To prevent that scenario, the car is also equipped with stability control, traction control, and ABS.
It's very tame in the snow as well. Stability control won't let you pull any "sweet" drifts and traction control limits power quite well. My only complaint here is that the front end has a problem with eating snow and water then spewing it in every conceivable direction. You can feel the front end just gobbling the stuff up (sometimes the front wheels will even lose a tad of traction) and you'll see it being spit back out onto your windscreen.
SO IS IT HEROIC OR NOT?
I'm afraid to say yes and no.
The car's name and the car's style just gets your adrenaline primed for a good time. You might even pretend like you're a hero on a mission. Sadly, you could be let down. It accelerates hard and doesn't have a limited top speed, but the engine's quiet drone (even at full throttle) is enough to make you fall asleep before even reaching 60mph. The other problem is the car's incredibly light steering. There isn't any true feedback at all and even though it's great at handling, it doesn't do a good job at telling you when it's about to let loose.
Overall, I think the Avenger is a great sedan, but once again, I don't quite think the car lives up to its name. It's good, but it can be better. With that in mind, if you're looking for a good family sedan with some unique characteristics, the Avenger is a good choice.
On a scale of 1-10 (10 being best), I'd rate the 2012 Dodge Avenger a 6.5. It has a lot of improvements, but at the same time, some crucial elements were missed.
Stay tuned for the 2012 smart fortwo "Top Gear" review.