2010 Dodge Avenger Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
October 20, 2009

The 2010 Dodge Avenger offers cool, chunky styling and innovative options; otherwise, it's several paces behind in the evolution of the mid-size sedan.

TheCarConnection.com has driven the Avenger, along with all of the other mid-size sedan models, to bring you details about how it matches up. For a comprehensive take on the 2010 Dodge Avenger, TheCarConnection.com has researched all the best review sources on the Web, citing highlights in a full review.

The mid-size Dodge Avenger sedan carries into 2010 with no significant changes, as Chrysler finds its way and readies grander product changes under the influence of Fiat. In a very competitive mid-size sedan segment that includes family-friendly heavy-hitters like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, and even the Hyundai Sonata, the Avenger stands out from the pack in styling but barely keeps up in most other respects.

The 2010 Dodge Avenger is closely related to the Chrysler Sebring, but its styling leaves the impression of a scaled-down Dodge Charger. However, the proportions don't have the same zing in the front-wheel-drive Avenger. Inside, the Avenger's styling is daringly different for a sedan—though, as we'll clarify later, unsatisfying materials will probably leave you wanting.

While originally available with optional all-wheel drive, the Avenger lineup is now limited to front-wheel drive. The middle powertrain offering, a 2.7-liter V-6, is gone for 2010, leaving two very different engine choices: a 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and four-speed automatic transmission (the SXT model), or a 235-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic (available on the R/T). The V-6 includes AutoStick, which enables manual gear selection.

Review continues below

Between the two engines and models, the driving experience is very different. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder is one of the least refined base engines in this class of vehicle, with a coarse sound when accelerating and ever-present drone, matched with sluggish acceleration and hesitant transmission downshifts. The V-6 in the 2010 Dodge Avenger R/T provides strong acceleration and is relatively refined, but fuel economy is lower than in rival V-6 models. Fuel economy ranges from 21 mpg city, 30 highway with the four-cylinder to 16/27 mpg with the V-6.

The 2010 Dodge Avenger has a rather soft ride, and it handles well enough but not enthusiastically. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes work well and are standard on the Avenger. With the available V-6, the R/T model includes firmer suspension settings, front and rear stabilizer bars, and big 18-inch wheels.

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 SXT 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.

While the interior might look good from a distance of 10 feet, 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 gets some more brightwork and upgraded trim pieces, but otherwise it retains the budget feel. Interior space remains a strength, though; in back, headroom and legroom are better than in some rivals, while in front the seats are supportive and provide a nice, upright driving position.

The Dodge Avenger has upgraded safety features for 2010, but it's still not quite in line with other sedans in terms of features. All 2010 Dodge Avengers now include front side and head-curtain airbags, new head-impact protection in the front seats, and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, but electronic stability control, an invaluable feature that has saved many lives, is only offered as an option on the R/T. In the insurance industry's IIHS tests, the Avenger scores "good" ratings for front and side protection; in government safety tests, the Dodge Avenger earns a five-star rating in frontal crash tests, but it hasn't recently been tested for side impact.

While Dodge (Chrysler) skimps on the materials and trims that set the feel of the interior, the Avenger SXT actually comes quite well equipped compared to other base mid-size sedans. Air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, cruise control, and keyless entry are all in the base feature set. Another surprise is that the Avenger provides a very robust set of options; heated seats, Sirius Satellite Radio, a MyGig infotainment system, a Chill Zone beverage cooler, a navigation system, and Uconnect Phone (Bluetooth) hands-free calling are all available on
the Avenger.

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2010 Dodge Avenger

Styling

From the outside, the 2010 Dodge Avenger makes a strong design statement, love it or hate it. Inside it's not as successful.

The 2010 Dodge Avenger is closely related to the Chrysler Sebring, but its styling leaves the impression of a scaled-down Dodge Charger, with prominent creases at the back fenders. However, the proportions don't carry the same zing in the front-wheel-drive Avenger.

Reviewers are split on the styling of the 2010 Dodge Avenger, but most agree it stands out from the crowd of usually bland mid-size sedans. Cars.com says "the Avenger's design is its greatest appeal," while reviewers at Edmunds point out that the external differences are few between the SXT and the R/T. All three versions feature styling similar to the Dodge Charger, leading Car and Driver reviewers to christen the Avenger the "Chargerette" and note its "Charger-like stance." MotherProof reviewers also love this 2010 Dodge, claiming that "the Avenger makes a statement. It isn't dippy; it's sharp and aggressive." However, on the negative side, Autoblog comments that the "rear quarter panel is an utter mess of shapes," while Car and Driver feels that it "fails to be either menacing or inviting."

The interior of the Avenger continues the chunky, angular theme that stands apart from the competition, but few experts would claim that it sets any sort of benchmark for styling in this segment. Cars.com laments the use of "hard and glossy plastics and copious amounts of faux metal" throughout the interior, remarking that, "just like the transmission speed count, with each passing year, the interior will seem further and further behind the times." Taking a positive slant, ConsumerGuide mentions that the "controls are mostly handy, though many lack quality feel and movement," and "some functions are not intuitive." Edmunds also finds a bit of redeeming value in the R/T model, which "features white-faced gauges, chrome trim and a two-tone leather-wrapped steering wheel that give a sporty, slightly more upscale feel."

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2010 Dodge Avenger

Performance

The V-6 makes the 2010 Dodge Avenger a little more exciting to drive, but even then it's no standout.  

With just a cursory look over a number of road tests, it's apparent that the 2010 Dodge Avenger doesn't keep up with the best mid-size sedans with respect to performance or fuel economy.

For 2010, the Avenger no longer offers the middle engine choice, a 2.7-liter V-6. This leaves SXT and R/T models, both featuring a standard 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, while a 235-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 is available on the sporty R/T. Reviews of the four-cylinder models are pretty dismal, with ConsumerGuide reporting the Dodge Avenger "struggles in passing and merging situations" with that engine and Cars.com claiming, "ultimately, the four-cylinder gets by, but it wouldn't be my choice for hilly regions or if I planned to drive with a full cabin or trunk." When equipped with the available V-6, the 2010 Dodge Avenger R/T fares much better; ConsumerGuide remarks that "power is ample," and Edmunds notes it "offers much better acceleration once it's revved up."

Reviewers almost unanimously pan the four-speed automatic transmission included with the base four-cylinder engine. Edmunds notes that "gearchanges feel unrefined," and Kelley Blue Book claims the Dodge Avenger's "acceleration isn't as effortless, upshifts aren't as smooth and highway cruising isn't quite as relaxed" as in some competitors. Things get a little better with the V-6 and six-speed automatic; Cars.com comments that they "at least like the way the AutoStick works."

Fuel economy is acceptable but not class-leading with the four-cylinder, and a bit disappointing with the V-6. Drivers of the base four-cylinder Dodge Avenger can expect to see 21 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway, while the 3.5-liter V-6 brings the city numbers all the way down to 16 mpg.

The 2010 Dodge Avenger has a comfortable ride, but its handling is nothing remarkable. ConsumerGuide is disappointed to find that "handling is compromised by artificial feeling steering and surprising body lean in corners." The handling story improves on the 2009 Dodge Avenger R/T, according to Motor Trend, which reports that the "R/T does offer reasonably fun handling, with minimal body roll in moderate-speed corners and a comfortable, well-damped ride." Road & Track reviewers mention the Dodge Avenger's "soft, comfortable ride," and Cars.com points out that the Dodge Avenger has "a nice ride quality on many surfaces." Braking performance remains a glaring negative; Edmunds says that "the brakes fade quickly with heavy use" and "stopping distances remain long for this class"—a complaint voiced by several other sources.

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2010 Dodge Avenger

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Dodge Avenger offers impressive interior space, but lackluster quality, fit, and finish add up to an overall negative impression of the interior.  

The 2010 Dodge Avenger's interior quality fails to impress even the most positive reviewers, but a roomy cabin with plenty of seating space is its redeeming feature.

Motor Trend reports "ample interior space" inside the Avenger, with space for five adults. ConsumerGuide finds that the Dodge Avenger offers "generous headroom" up front, although "shoulder space is limited for larger occupants." Cars.com calculates that, "by the numbers, backseat legroom is a bit tight—1/2 inch less than the Fusion and 2 to 3 inches less than the other two—but at 6 feet tall, I was reasonably comfortable anyway." Edmunds also notes that "the rear seat is spacious enough for two adults, although the seat-bottom cushion is a bit too low."

The story isn't quite as bright with respect to cargo space. Edmunds says that the Dodge Avenger's "trunk capacity is a bit below the segment average at 13.4 cubic feet." ConsumerGuide reports that "interior stowage is limited to a too-narrow center console and a smallish glovebox," although Cars.com does appreciate that "a 60/40-split folding backseat is standard for expanding the cargo area forward into the cabin." On the positive side, Autoblog points to several optional items that help the Avenger's cabin stand out: "a bevy of delightful beverage-centric items, including the Chill Zone storage compartment mounted in the dash and the heated/cooled cup holders."

Almost every reviewer has trouble saying anything positive about the interior quality of the Dodge Avenger. Edmunds reviewers find "it's hard to get past the mediocre quality of the interior materials," while ConsumerGuide says "the cabin disappoints with abundant hard-plastic surfaces." Cars.com notes that the Dodge Avenger's "interior is long on creature features but short on quality...the center storage console feels and sounds a bit cheap when you open and close it." ConsumerGuide even reports that, "in one test model, the plastic housing for the center console's sliding armrest snapped off."

In Avenger models with the four-cylinder, the coarse sound of the engine is a common complaint from reviewers. Although it's still not the most refined in the class, Chrysler upgrades the Avenger's noise insulation for 2009 and several reviewers notice the difference. Cars.com says that, "to seal out noise, Dodge used the firewall...from the diesel version of the car sold in Europe," and ConsumerGuide reports "wind noise is effectively hushed, even at highway speed."

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2010 Dodge Avenger

Safety

Crash-test ratings for the 2010 Dodge Avenger are very positive, yet this sedan lacks some features that might play a role in accident avoidance.

The 2010 Dodge Avenger does quite well in crash tests, but it still lacks at least one expected safety feature.

In the federal government's tests, the Dodge Avenger earns a perfect five-star rating for frontal impact tests, though updated side tests aren't available. The typically more critical IIHS awards the 2010 Avenger a top "good" score in frontal offset impact and side impact tests.

For 2010, all Dodge Avenger models now include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes; however, electronic stability control—a feature now standard on many rival models—is only offered as an option on the R/T and not at all available on the SXT.

According to ConsumerGuide, the Dodge Avenger's "thick roof pillars and lack of a rear quarter window severely compromise rear visibility," while the absence of any sort of parking assistance features does nothing to atone for the poor sightlines. TheCarConnection.com also notices firsthand that rearward visibility is worse than average.

MotherProof appreciates the hinged rotating covers on the top-tether anchors for child-seat mounting, and adds that "child-safety seats would fit fine as long as you and/or your passenger aren't really tall."

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2010 Dodge Avenger

Features

When it comes to features and options, the 2010 Dodge Avenger emerges as one of the class leaders.

In most of the other sections of this review, the 2010 Dodge Avenger is panned by critics for one reason or another. But in terms of features, the Avenger offers more innovation and amenities than most other mid-size sedans—including some exclusive and useful features.

On the base 2010 Dodge Avenger SXT, equipment is quite impressive. Edmunds lists the standard features as including "a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a cooled front storage compartment and a four-speaker audio system with a single-CD player." That cooled front storage compartment, which Dodge christens the Chill Zone, generates a lot of buzz among the automotive press. Automobile Magazine notes that one of the "neat cabin touches [includes] the Chill Zone," while MotherProof says that "this is one of those features that sounds ridiculous on paper, but in real life just charms you."

Buyers opting for the top-level Dodge Avenger R/T will get standard "18-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, automatic headlights, firmer suspension tuning, single-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror," according to Edmunds.

The lengthy options list—including many useful tech-savvy features—also has reviewers raving. Cars.com catalogs some of the other options as a "navigation system [that] has a touch-screen, which is better than an 'advanced' multifunction controller," and "the MyGIG system, which includes Sirius Satellite Radio that can provide the system with real-time traffic information and even choose a route based on current conditions." ConsumerGuide also points out that a "Navigation and Sound Group" for the R/T adds a "Boston Acoustics sound system, hard drive, wireless cell phone link, [and] iPod adapter." The only other major option is a power sunroof, but Cars.com warns that "the optional moonroof required the dome light to be relocated well behind the front seats, leaving the front in darkness and shadows."

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