- Exterior styling dares to be different
- Spacious backseat
- Good fuel economy (four-cylinder)
- Rough, noisy, and sluggish base engine
- Road noise
- Chintzy cabin materials
Styling and roominess are reasons to consider the 2009 Dodge Avenger, but otherwise it simply doesn’t stack up.
2009 marks the second year of production for the Dodge Avenger, the latest mid-size sedan offering from Chrysler. The 2009 Dodge Avenger shares some styling with its big brother, the Dodge Charger, but features a lower starting price and a range of four- and six-cylinder engines. While originally available with optional all-wheel drive, that model has been discontinued, so front-wheel drive is the only configuration available.
The 2009 Dodge Avenger comes in three different trim levels, which range from the basic Avenger SE to the luxurious and sporty R/T model. Slotted in between the two is the mid-level Dodge Avenger SXT, which shares its 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with the SE. A 189-hp, 2.7-liter flex-fuel-compatible V-6 is optional on the Dodge Avenger SXT, while the R/T boasts a 235-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The lone transmission option for the R/T is a six-speed automatic with Auto Stick manual control, while the other two Avengers get a standard four-speed auto.
The R/T model is aimed at driving-enthusiast buyers and gets firmer suspension settings, front and rear stabilizer bars, big 18-inch wheels, and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. Other standard features that help differentiate the 2009 Dodge Avenger R/T are the bright exhaust tips, fog lamps, and a trunk lid spoiler.
As you might expect, the three engine choices on the 2009 Dodge Avenger lineup offer vastly different driving experiences. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder is especially unrefined, with its loud and coarse exhaust note and ever-present drone, which might be forgiven if only it offered decent power. Unfortunately, it doesn't, and the problems are only compounded by the four-speed automatic, which hesitates for downshifts but is otherwise passable. The 2.7-liter V-6 offers better all-around performance but loses out in terms of fuel economy when compared to the base offering. The R/T's 3.5-liter powerplant works well in the Dodge Avenger, providing brisk acceleration and a relatively refined character; expect fuel economy in the mid teens in city driving.
The base models of the Dodge Avenger have a particularly soft ride, and while the R/T sports a firmer suspension, it doesn't suffer much in the comfort department. Despite the aggressive nameplate, the Dodge Avenger SE doesn't handle as well as expected for a mid-size sedan, but the 2009 Dodge Avenger R/T controls body roll well and corners with gusto. One feature that might kill some of the driving experience is road noise, which can be an issue on rough roads in any Dodge Avenger model.
At first glance, the interior of the 2009 Dodge Avenger is striking in its styling, which is uniquely American. However, up close the cheap materials give themselves away thanks to the abundance of hard plastic surfaces of varying luster and texture. The expensive Dodge Avenger R/T offers some unique trim pieces, but overall the intimation of budget materials remains. For a mid-size sedan, however, the 2009 Dodge Avenger impresses in terms of interior space; the 2009 Dodge Avenger can easily hit its capacity claim of five adults, thanks to the generous headroom and legroom measurements, and the trunk is sized well. Up front, the seats are comfortable and upright, making for a pleasant seating environment.
Though rather basic in appearance and feel, the 2009 Dodge Avenger SE is well equipped for a base model. The Avenger SE offers standard air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, and keyless entry, all included in the base MSRP, while available options include heated seats and a MyGIG Infotainment System. Other standout extras are a navigation system and hands-free calling, while the Chill Zone feature adds a cooled glove box for beverage cans.
All 2009 Dodge Avengers come with a decent array of safety features, including standard front side and head-curtain airbags, but there are key omissions. Anti-lock brakes come standard on the Dodge Avenger SXT and R/T models, but unfortunately are not available on the SE. Electronic stability control, an invaluable feature that has saved many lives, is only offered as an option on the R/T. In government safety tests, the 2009 Dodge Avenger earns a five-star rating in frontal crash tests and a similar five stars in the side impact test for front occupants, though rear occupants only receive four-star protection. However, the agency says that the door became unlatched in the side test, increasing the likelihood of ejection. In the insurance industry's IIHS tests, the Avenger scores "good" ratings for front and side protection.