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First Oz drive: Avenger muscles in on medium turf
Dodge stirs the mid-sized sedan market with the Avenger, a macho Charger wannabe
17 Aug 2007
By JAMES STANFORD in NEW ZEALAND
DODGE has moved to shake up the medium-sized segment with a macho American sedan which is armed with a $28,290 starting price, standard electronic stability control and two years of free comprehensive insurance.
Unmasked for the Australian market in New Zealand last week, the Dodge Avenger’s testosterone-fuelled exterior styling is clearly linked to the American Charger muscle-car.
But underneath its powerful-looking steel shell, the Avenger is very much a standard four-door sedan running the same mechanicals as the Chrysler Sebring, which is positioned as a slightly more premium model.
The major difference is that, unlike the Sebring, the Avenger runs a smaller 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine for the base model, a move that allows it to slip below the $30,000 mark.
The base Avenger sits above the most affordable mid-sized models including the Hyundai Sonata ($25,990), Toyota Camry ($28,000) and Holden Epica ($25,990), and just below base versions of the Mazda6 ($29,990), Subaru Liberty (31,990) and the Honda Accord VTi ($30,490).
The Avenger’s pumped-out wheel-arches, hard edges and exaggerated shoulder lines give the car a much bolder look than many of its rivals.
“There isn’t a car in this segment that looks this tough – finally a car the consumer won’t feel embarrassed driving,” said Chrysler Group Australia managing director Gerry Jenkins.
As well as the 2.0-litre engine, the Avenger is available with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol which is used in a range of Chrysler Group products including the Sebring, Dodge Caliber and Jeep Patriot.
The base petrol engine uses variable valve timing and produces 115kW of power and 190Nm of torque. It is only available with a five-speed manual. This combination might not deliver scintillating performance, but it is frugal, delivering a combined fuel economy figure of 7.8 litres per 100km (ADR 81/01).
Teamed with a four-speed automatic only, the 2.4-litre petrol engine also uses variable valve timing and generates 125kW and 220Nm. The combination uses a bit more fuel than the smaller-capacity model, but is still no gas guzzler with a figure of 8.9L/100km.
Those who want a little more power will have to wait until next January, when Dodge introduces a 2.7-litre V6 version of the Avenger with 137kW and 256Nm. The six-cylinder also comes with a six-speed automatic.
The Avenger drives the front wheels and rests on a traditional set-up of MacPherson struts at the front and an independent multi-link configuration at the rear.
It has similar dimensions to its rivals, measuring 4850mm long, 1843mm wide and 1497mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2765mm.
The Avenger weighs between 1480kg and 1560kg depending on the model chosen and has a modest braked towing capacity of 1000kg.
Its steering is a power-assisted rack-and-pinion system, while the braking package includes ABS across the range.
Standard safety gear is impressive, including not only ESC, but also traction control and a full suite of airbags including driver front and side airbags and side curtain airbags.
The 2.0-litre Avenger is available only in SX trim at $28,290, while the 2.4-litre model is available as an SX or in premium SXT trim. The 2.4 SX costs $30,990 and the 2.4 SXT $34,990.
The SX models sit on 17-inch alloy wheels and come standard with a single CD sound system, electric windows, cruise control, air-conditioning and a chilled central storage bin.
Stepping up to the SXT adds 18-inch alloy wheels, six-CD sound, a trip computer, heated front seats with electronic adjustment for the driver, leather trim, premium sound system with Boston Acoustics speakers, front foglights, a tyre-pressure monitoring system and a cup-holder with a ceramic element that can chill or heat the contents.
The Avenger has 60/40-split folding rear seat and its boot offers 452 litres of cargo space. It also holds a space-saver spare wheel.
Options across the range include a sunroof and a top-line MyGig entertainment system with a 20gig hard-drive, 6.5-inch touch screen, satellite-navigation and DVD player.
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