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As this review, covering the 2008 Dodge Avenger, was assembled, TheCarConnection.com consulted with some of the best review sources on the Web. Several of TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the Avenger and have included driving impressions so as to help compare it to the competition.
Dodge's mid-size sedan, the Avenger, is an all-new model. The 2008 Dodge Avenger borrows some of the design attributes of the larger Charger sedan, but comes instead with a lower price tag, front- or all-wheel drive, and a range of four- and six-cylinder engines.
Three different models of the 2008 Dodge Avenger are offered, ranging from very simple to luxurious and sporty. The base SE and mid-level SXT come with a 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, while the top R/T model includes a 235-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. In between is a 189-horsepower, 2.7-liter flex-fuel-compatible V-6 that's optional on the SXT. The 2.4- and 2.7-liter engines come with a four-speed automatic, while a six-speed automatic with Auto Stick manual control is included with the 3.5-liter.
The R/T model also comes with firmer suspension settings, front and rear stabilizer bars, big 18-inch wheels, and four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, as well as lots of sporty cues like bright exhaust tips, fog lamps, and a trunk lid spoiler. All-wheel drive is optional on the 2008 Dodge Avenger R/T.
There's a vast difference between the Avenger's three engine choices. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder has only modest power here, and it's especially loud and coarse in the 2008 Dodge Avenger, an ever-present drone while accelerating at any rate. The four-speed automatic hesitates for downshifts, though it's otherwise smooth. Upgrading to the 2.7-liter engine brings acceptable performance and smoothness but lower fuel economy, and the top R/T and its 3.5-liter engine actually feels quite brisk, sporty, and refined.
Base models have a rather soft ride, while the firmer R/T wasn't any less comfortable. Handling on the base models isn't as good as expected for such a sensibly sized sedan, but the 2008 Dodge Avenger R/T really bites into corners and has better body control. Road noise inside can be an issue on coarse surfaces in either of the models.
The Avenger's interior is impressively styled and uniquely American in its design, but up close the materials feel chintzy, with too many hard plastic surfaces of varying luster and texture. Different trim pieces spice up the R/T a bit, but the impression remains. Interior space is a high point; the 2008 Dodge Avenger can accommodate five adults, thanks to more legroom and headroom than is typical in this size of vehicle, and the trunk is uncommonly vast. The front seats have a nice, upright position as well.
Though basic in appearance and feel, the 2008 Dodge Avenger SE comes well equipped for a base model; air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, and power windows are all included. At the top of the range, the R/T also brings upgraded seats, steering wheel audio controls, automatic climate control, an upgraded sound system, and power heated mirrors. Noteworthy optional features include heated seats, and a MyGIG Infotainment System includes hard-drive music storage, a nav system, and hands-free calling. Another standout feature is the Chill Zone, a cooled glove box good for beverage cans.
All 2008 Dodge Avenger models have standard front side and head-curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes are standard on SXT and R/T models but not available on the SE, and electronic stability control, a life-saving feature, is only available on the R/T, as an option. The federal government tested the Avenger, and it earned a top five-star rating in the frontal crash test, five stars in the side test for front occupants, and four stars for backseat occupants. However, the agency said that the door became unlatched in the side test, increasing the likelihood of ejection. In the IIHS crash tests, the Avenger scored "good" ratings for front and side protection.