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Dodge Avenger May Be On The Chopping Block

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Much of the news coming from Chrysler this week has been about the death of the Dodge Caliber and its replacement by the 2013 Dodge Dart. (If you missed our take on the Dart's six strengths, you can read it here.) Now comes word that another Dodge model may soon get the axe: the Dodge Avenger.

The news comes from AutoNews, which spoke to Dodge head honcho Reid Bigland earlier this week. According to the report, Reid suggested that in the future, the Chrysler family will focus its mid-size sedan efforts on just one model.

That doesn't bode well for the Avenger, which had a short run in the late 1990s, returned for the 2008 model year, and was recently refreshed. Sales of the Avenger haven't been particularly strong -- though in fairness, its return did occur just as America was falling headlong into the Great Recession.

However, Reid's innuendo could be great news for the Chrysler 200. Since launching last year as a replacement for the not-entirely beloved Chrysler Sebring, the 200 has generated praise from the press and strong interest from consumers -- helped, no doubt, by last year's Super Bowl ad starring Eminem. In fact, the 200 skated past the Avenger in showrooms last year, selling 87,033 units compared to the Avenger's 64,023.

Die-hard Dodge fans will point out that the Avenger is made for a different consumer than the Chrysler 200, and there's some truth in that. But so far, CEO Sergio Marchionne has been pretty effective at bringing focus to Chrysler's family of vehicles, without worrying much about sentimental value.

If Reid is right, will the Avenger be missed? Will the Chrysler 200 benefit from the lack of in-house competition? And more importantly, will the Avenger's dismissal help the 200 gain market share against better-selling mid-size sedans like the Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry? Stay tuned....

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