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2011 Dodge Avenger: First Drive Page 3

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Family-sized, and safe

Nearly identical to the Chrysler 200 in raw cubic feet and the way it's arranged, the 2011 Dodge Avenger has roughly the same interior space found in the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, or the latest Ford Fusion and Subaru Legacy, some of TheCarConnection's most highly rated four-doors. Head room and leg room are equal to or better than most, though the Avenger's trunk is on the small side of the scale.

The Avenger suffers some for the mini-Charger style. While the Sonata's tall, airy greenhouse lets in plenty of light, the Avenger's tall shoulders and low roofline--and dark trim most everywhere inside save for the upholstery--feels more confining, even though its flat but wide front seats have enough acreage for the Target market. Tucking into the back seats is a little trickier than in some competitors because of the body structure's higher sills and lower roof cutouts (disguised very well by tall door skins).
In the past, the Avenger has scored very well on crash-test ratings, but 2011 scores aren't in. The standard features list does include dual front, side and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; and active headrests. Advanced options like blind-spot detection and parking sensors aren't on the menu at all.
In five different trims, the Avenger spreads out standard features and options. The Express is the base edition; stepping up the ladder to Mainstreet, Heat, Lux and R/T models adds on new gear. All versions offer air conditioning; power windows, locks and mirrors; 17-inch wheels; a split-folding rear seat; and cloth upholstery. Bluetooth, satellite radio and a USB port are unavailable on the base Avenger Express; they're standard or optional on other models, with better availability than in the Jetta but well off the mark set by the Sonata and the 2011 Kia Optima. A navigation system is optional only on the top two trims; a dual-clutch gearbox comes to the lineup late in the model year, and only on the Avenger Lux.
Chrysler's already planning the future replacement for the Avenger, and it's squarely aligned with future Fiat global architectures. Without spending too much on the current car, Chrysler's peeled a few layers of "fleet" off the Avenger and exposed some more of the basic value underneath. It's not nearly so compelling as the Charger to drive, but the Avenger is a bit deeper than the mini-Me look and those big, big horsepower numbers.

 
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