2011 Dodge Avenger Walk Around

The Dodge Avenger might be smoother and cleaner for 2011, but the overall lines aren't dynamic. You can sure tell it isn't European. It doesn't even try to be sleek, unlike one competitor, the Hyundai Sonata, at least trying. The Avenger says retro, period.

Its shape suggests the Charger, especially at the hips and roofline, but doesn't inspire like it. But it's still clean, so give Dodge stylists some stars. There's no cladding or ding strips on the sides. Body-colored door handles and mirrors (except on the Express), nice. The fascia/bumpers, front and rear, are smooth but need to be sculpted more, or something.

For 2011, the stance is lower and wider, and it shows. The track is an inch wider, tires 10 mm wider, nose 12 mm lower, and rear bumper 6 mm lower. Way better than before.

The crosshair in the grille, the Dodge symbol, doesn't work for us on the Avenger, partly because it's plated-chrome plastic. Even the body-colored crosshair on the R/T doesn't help much, although it might work if it were black like the eggcrate background. That black eggrcrate works best in the horizontal openings on the lower fascia, three of them separated by small vertical struts. It doesn't seem as if much work went into making the dual headlamps sleek. There are twin character lines on the hood, deep enough that you can see they're V-shaped, that should accentuate the long hood but don't.

Black seams run along the roofline from the A pillars back to the top corners of the rear glass. Was it the Dodge Caliber that started this regrettable craze?

The Avenger isn't bad looking, it just gets lost with the vanilla sedans. It misses an opportunity to be eye-catching, like the Charger.


Inside, the 2011 Dodge Avenger is a total makeover. It's not particularly exciting, but neither is it annoying, frustrating, or inconvenient, as many cars with interiors and controls that try to do too much or be cool. The Avenger is simple: everything in its correct place, and not too much of it. The controls are all easy to operate, in the standard right places. That alone makes the driving more relaxing. User friendly because it doesn't confuse you.

The prevailing impression inside the Avenger is that there's a lot of room to maneuver and stretch. It feels big inside, yet not too big outside.

Rear-seat legroom is adequate at 36.2 inches, although that's nearly 2 inches less than the Volkswagen Jetta, with a wheelbase that's shorter by 4.5 inches. The Avenger has nearly an inch less rear legroom than the same-sized Ford Fusion, a midsize class leader.

The doors are designed well, with comfortable leather armrests (in our Avenger Mainstreet), a good grab handle, door pockets, and small levers that make opening the doors easy. Besides the simple and roomy layout, the best part of the interior might be the expensive feel of the leather used on the steering wheel, on Mainstreet and up models. The worst part might be the cheap looking trim, some chrome and some faux aluminum.

The numbering on the gauges misses, not ugly, cluttered or hard to read but no style; we wonder why carmakers keep playing with this, especially since Dodge has done it right before (2009 Ram, for example). Actually, the tachometer is hard to read, too small and out of the way (except on the R/T).

The fabric on our seats was boring in beige; since the fabric itself is good and rugged, we think it would look great in black. The seats are comfortable for cruising and long hauls; they're not as supportive as they might be in corners, but not every Avenger buyer wants a Charger.

For 2011, there's new ambient interior lighting, and steering wheel controls. Our Mainstreet had the optional Media Center with SIRIUS satellite radio, a 30 gb hard drive, iPod connectivity, streaming music capability and a navigation system with SIRIUS Travel Link for real-time information, all controlled on a relatively simple 6.5-inch touch screen. It also had the power sunroof.

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