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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
R/T's 3.5-liter V-6 makes for spirited, effortless acceleration
2009 Dodge Avenger lineup loses its all-wheel-drive model
Stopping distances remain long for this class
Dodge may be aiming for a more spirited performance class with a name like Avenger, but once you get behind the wheel of this 2009 Dodge—as TheCarConnection.com suspects based on reviewers’ feedback—the nameplate may quickly be forgotten.
The three trims of the 2009 Dodge Avenger offer three different engine options. According to Edmunds reviewers, the 2009 Dodge Avenger SE and SXT models get a "2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated for 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque," while a "2.7-liter V6, optional on the SXT only, makes 186 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque." Edmunds adds that "the standard powertrain on the [Dodge] Avenger R/T is a 3.5-liter V6 capable of 235 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque." Reviews of the four-cylinder are pretty dismal, with ConsumerGuide reporting that the Dodge Avenger "struggles in passing and merging situations" with that engine, and the "same goes for the SXT's optional 2.7-liter V6." Cars.com agrees, claiming that, "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." The 2009 Dodge Avenger R/T fares much better, however, with ConsumerGuide remarking that "power is ample" and Edmunds noting that it "offers much better acceleration once it's revved up."
One feature of the 2009 Dodge Avenger that draws lots of criticism is the transmission on the SE and SXT trims. Cars.com reports that "the SE and SXT drive the front wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission," while the "R/T has a six-speed with AutoStick clutchless-manual mode." Reviewers are decidedly unimpressed with the outdated four-speed, and Kelley Blue Book claims that the Dodge Avenger's "acceleration isn't as effortless, upshifts aren't as smooth and highway cruising isn't quite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. Edmunds similarly notes that "gearchanges feel unrefined." Things get a little better with the six-speed, as Cars.com comments that they "at least like the way the AutoStick works: It locks in whatever gear you choose, so it's more than the '4321' positions that used to appear after the 'PRND' on a gear selector."
Fuel economy is decent on the 2009 Dodge Avenger, according to the official EPA estimates. Drivers of the base four-cylinder Dodge Avenger can expect to see 21 mpg in the city and a full 30 mpg on the highway, while the 2.7-liter engine drops to 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Springing for the high-output 3.5-liter V-6 brings the city numbers all the way down to 16 mpg.
When it comes to handling, the 2009 Dodge Avenger slots right in with the competition, offering a comfortable, though unremarkable, ride. Road and 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." 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." One glaring negative mentioned by reviewers at Edmunds is braking performance; "the brakes fade quickly with heavy use" and "stopping distances remain long for this class," they report.
If you have any sort of enthusiast driving in mind, you'll want to pay for the 2009 Dodge Avenger R/T, with its upgraded V-6 engine and retuned suspension.