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First look: Dodge delivers 2011 Avenger

Left out: The new Dodge Avenger will not make it into either left-hand drive or Australia.

Facelifted Dodge Avenger emerges in the US, but remains off-limits in Australia

Dodge logo29 Oct 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

CHRYSLER has taken the wraps off its facelifted 2011 Dodge Avenger sedan, but like the 2011 Charger sedan, Challenger coupe and all-new Durango SUV, it remains a left-hand drive model with no scheduled release date for Australia.

Chrysler Australia axed the slow-selling mid-size Dodge sedan here in August and the niche US lifestyle brand’s local line-up now includes only the small Caliber hatchback, the Nitro medium SUV and Journey people-mover.

An upgraded 2011 version of the latter won’t arrive here until the 2012 model year (see separate story) as Chrysler Australia continues to lobby for RHD versions of the Charger, Challenger and Durango.

That means the next all-new Dodge model Australians are likely to be offered will be the redesigned 2012 Caliber, based on the same new global small-car platform that underpins Alfa Romeo’s upcoming Giulietta, as part of Chrysler’s alliance with Fiat.

Similarly, as we’ve reported, Chrysler’s next-generation 300 large sedan hits US streets within months but won’t go on sale here until 2012, while the new Chrysler 200 – a heavily re-engineered version of the discontinued mid-size Sebring sedan remains unconfirmed for RHD.

While the facelifted 2011 Chrysler Voyager is due on sale Down Under in the second quarter of 2011, next year will be all about the Jeep brand for Chrysler Australia, which will launch the all-new Grand Cherokee and facelifted Wrangler range in the first quarter and the facelifted Patriot in the second quarter.

41 center imageFor the record, the overhauled 2011 Avenger features an all-new interior, a refreshed exterior, a new powertrain line-up and “completely redesigned and retuned suspension” that’s claimed to deliver “Dodge’s fun-to-drive dynamics in a front-wheel-drive mid-size sedan”.

Dodge says its engineers retuned or redesigned virtually every part of the Avenger’s suspension for 2011, including 26 of 30 suspension bushings. “Completely rethought” suspension geometry has resulted in wheel tracks that are one inch wider, tyres that grow from 215 to 225mm in width and a ride height that is 12mm lower at the front and 6mm lower at the rear.

The changes are designed to make Avenger drivers feel more confident due to less bodyroll, less vehicle shake, improved isolation, better steering precision, response and feel and increased tyre grip.

Under the 2011 Avenger’s bonnet is a recalibrated version of Chrysler’s 2.4-litre World Gas (petrol) Engine, matched with a new six-speed automatic transmission.

The revitalised US car-maker’s new Pentastar V6 petrol engine – also mated to a six-speed auto – will be optional, delivering a best-in-class power output of 211kW (an increase of 20 per cent compared with the engine it replaces), plus 12 per cent more peak torque and “competitive” fuel economy.

Built at Chrysler’s Sterling Heights factory in Michigan, the 2011 Avenger hits US dealerships by the end of this year with the Dodge brand’s new signature ‘split crosshair’ grille and an equally fresh lower front fascia.

The biggest cosmetic changes are inside, however, where the Chrysler Group’s interior design studio developed a new instrument panel, bezels, gauge faces and three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, plus upgraded seats with leather and cloth trim and accent stitching, several new two-tone interior colour schemes, revised heating and ventilation controls and new soft-touch armrests.

Chrysler says the 2011 Dodge Avenger now comes with one of the quietest cabins in the segment thanks to 45 new or upgraded sound-deadening treatments integrated throughout the vehicle.

Other new features include ambient interior lighting and the option of a voice-operated phone function, integrated USB port for streaming music, navigation, an iPod/MP3 jack, Bluetooth music streaming, a hard-drive that stores approximately 6700 songs and keyless starting.

Dodge says the 2011 changes will give its Avenger more style, personality and performance than its chief competitors in the standard mid-size sedan market, which is North America’s largest vehicle sales segment with 1.6 million cars sold last year.

Dodge this week also revealed a facelifted version of its Chrysler Voyager-based Grand Caravan, which won’t be sold in Australia.

As with the Avenger, the revised Dodge people-mover scores the new 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol V6 and six-speed automatic transmission combination, which replaces the previous model’s 3.3, 3.8 and 4.0-litre V6 engines, plus a new grille, bonnet, quad headlights, LED tail-lights, returned suspension and upgraded interior.

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