2008 Dodge Avenger

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
August 1, 2008

Buying tip

It's likely you'll be able to swing quite a deal on the 2008 Dodge Avenger; early in its first model year, Dodge was already offering cash back on the Avenger. But be wary; unless you like the car and plan to keep it for a long time, this does not bode well for resale value.

features & specs

4-Door Sedan R/T AWD
4-Door Sedan R/T FWD
4-Door Sedan SE FWD
15 city / 24 hwy
16 city / 26 hwy
21 city / 30 hwy

The 2008 Dodge Avenger’s styling is refreshingly different in a same-as field of sedans, but otherwise it’s behind the curve.

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.

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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.


2008 Dodge Avenger


The 2008 Dodge Avenger exterior styling is distinctly Dodge: bold lines and a muscular body, but also some questionable angles and a letdown interior.

The 2008 Dodge Avenger replaces the old Dodge Stratus with a welcome exterior that echoes the Dodge Charger, though there's room for improvements inside.

On the exterior, the 2008 Dodge Avenger's family heritage is readily recognizable. Car and Driver has bestowed the somewhat belittling moniker "Chargerette" upon the Avenger in reference to its appearance as a scaled-down version of Dodge's modern-day muscle sedan. Similarly, Kelley Blue Book notes that "the Avenger's strong rear shoulders, squarish taillamps and sloping roofline are all grafted with varying exactness from the Dodge Charger large sedan." Generally, TheCarConnection.com found reviewers split between the Dodge Avenger's aggressive styling cues reminiscent of the Charger, and the rather mundane styling of the front half of the Avenger. On one hand, Cars.com says "the Avenger is one of the few distinctive designs in the saturated midsize sedan market." On the other hand, a trio of reviewers felt it wasn’t convincing at all. Road & Track damns with faint praise: "its styling falls in line with other Dodge models, meaning it has substance and character that won't wilt in the sun." Autoblog says its "rear quarter panel is an utter mess of shapes," and Car and Driver reports it "fails to be either menacing or inviting."

While the jury is still out on the exterior styling of the Dodge Avenger, its base interior is panned by reviewers. ConsumerGuide applauds the Dodge Avenger's gauges for being "clearly marked and easy to see," but they also note that this 2008 Dodge cabin "falls well short of most anything in its class." Cars.com points out "some hard and glossy plastics and copious amounts of faux metal." Despite these negative sentiments, Automobile considers the Dodge Avenger's interior appearance to be a major improvement over recent Chrysler mid-sized sedans, though that might say more about the previous sedans than it does about this 2008 Dodge.

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2008 Dodge Avenger


The 2008 Dodge Avenger provides little in the way of a fun performance driving experience, but the top-end V-6 brings respectable power and handling.

When it comes to performance, the 2008 Dodge Avenger is a tale of the haves and the have-nots.

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 232-horsepower V-6 in the Avenger R/T is "thoroughly up to the task of getting the Avenger up to speed," according to Car and Driver. In fact, reviewers are unanimous in their praise for the top-of-the-line engine options in the Avenger. Watch out for that step down to the base 2.4-liter engine on the Avenger SE and SXT, though, because it's a big one. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com note that although the Dodge Avenger base engine will serve adequately for driving around town, it is, in Edmund's words, "sluggish and excessively noisy at highway speeds." Road & Track says "the slightly-too-noisy 2.4-liter inline-4 World Engine...produces...173 hp and 166 lb.-ft. of torque"; the "hotted up version, sporting the 3.5-liter six will make 235 HP and 232 lb.-ft. of twist," according to Autoblog. The intermediate engine’s far better than the four-cylinder too: “Refinement still isn't a strong point,” Edmunds warns, “but with this engine, the Avenger feels much stronger during highway maneuvers.”

The lower-end engine options on the 2008 Dodge Avenger are linked to four-speed automatic transmissions that can't quite compare to the transmissions found on other cars in the Avenger's segment. Kelley Blue Book finds that Dodge Avenger "acceleration isn't as effortless, upshifts aren't as smooth and highway cruising isn't quite as relaxed" in the base Avenger as on the segment leaders. While still far from perfect, the "more sophisticated six-speed automatic transmission" that links this 2008 Dodge V-6 to the wheels does provide a performance improvement over the four-speed, according to Edmunds. Automobile says "the six-speed automatic is smooth and fast-reacting, especially in manual mode." All-wheel drive is a new option on R/T models this year.

Mileage figures aren't stellar here. ConsumerGuide tests showed that "a 4-cylinder SXT averaged 23.5 mpg," while the "front-drive R/T averaged a disappointing 17.7 mpg...[the] AWD R/T didn't fare much better, averaging 18.2 mpg."

On the handling side of the performance equation, the 2008 Avenger is, befitting its mid-size sedan segment, largely unremarkable. Road & Track gives a thumbs-up for the "soft, comfortable ride with well-weighted steering," but others find fault with the Dodge Avenger's body roll and tendency to break free in corners. ConsumerGuide notes that "handing is compromised by artificial feeling steering and surprising body lean in corners...R/T models demonstrate somewhat improved steering feel and better overall grip but fall short of sporty pretensions, even with all-wheel drive." Edmunds suggests that the "reason to get the R/T is its upgraded suspension tuning, which provides more responsive and secure handling on back roads, along with a composed highway ride." Cars.com compares it unfavorably to its competition: "Avenger R/T doesn't have the reflexes of a Mazda6 S or a Nissan Altima SE...the structure is solid, but the steering doesn't have a performance feel, and the expected understeer isn't as easy to overcome as it is in the new Altima SE."

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2008 Dodge Avenger

Comfort & Quality

Cabin room is good inside the 2008 Dodge Avenger, but mediocre finishes and road noise fall far short of the class leaders.

The 2008 Dodge Avenger scores high in cabin space ratings, with many reviewers commenting on the car's headroom.

"The Avenger's cabin is spacious enough for two six-foot, two-inch occupants to sit one behind the other in comfort," according to Automobile. This is confirmed at ConsumerGuide, which reports "adult-adequate headroom with no excess legroom," although a "narrow cabin rules out three-abreast adult seating." Reviewers nonetheless appreciate the Dodge Avenger's well-designed and comfortable front seats. Autoblog calls these 2008 Dodge seats "relatively comfortable [with] good lateral support." The rear seats are also comfortable for two adults.

Bringing down the 2008 Dodge Avenger's overall score in this category are its low marks for both cargo room. ConsumerGuide laments the Dodge Avenger's interior stowage options, which are "limited to a too-narrow center console and smallish glovebox." Other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com also made note of the relatively small trunk, especially when compared to competitors. On the other hand, Autoblog gleefully notes "interior accoutrements include a bevy of delightful beverage-centric items, including the Chill Zone storage compartment mounted in the dash and the heated/cooled cup holders."

Cars.com is critical of this 2008 Dodge cabin: "the 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, however, reports that the Dodge Avenger "R/T has upgraded trim, which, with the available leather seating, somewhat improves the interior ambiance." Edmunds acknowledges "although not exactly premium in feel, the Avenger's cabin is a step up from the outgoing Stratus."

ConsumerGuide cites noise levels, reporting "wind noise is effectively hushed, even at highway speed," but adding that "lack of suspension refinement contributes to excess of creaks and groans over poor road surfaces."

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2008 Dodge Avenger


The 2008 Dodge Avenger earns good crash-test scores, but lacks anti-lock brakes and stability control on base versions.

TheCarConnection.com found that the 2008 Dodge Avenger scores reasonably high in crash-test ratings, receiving five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for both passenger and driver front-impact collisions. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), however, has not tested the Avenger.

Kelley Blue Book notes that safety equipment standard on the 2008 Dodge Avenger "includes front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, but not anti-lock brakes." According to Cars.com, "An electronic stability system is standard on the [Dodge Avenger] R/T AWD and optional on the front-drive R/T and the SXT for $425. There is no traction control in [Dodge Avenger] without the stability system."

Mother Proof reports that installing child car seats in this 2008 Dodge "had its pros and cons...The lower anchors of the [Dodge] Avenger's system were a pain to hook and unhook, although the hinged rotating covers on the top-tether anchors were simple and much appreciated."

ConsumerGuide reports this 2008 Dodge has serious visibility problems: "thick roof pillars and lack of a rear quarter window severely compromise rear visibility."


2008 Dodge Avenger


The 2008 Dodge Avenger’s killer apps are its high-end, high-tech entertainment options.

The list of features both optional and standard on the 2008 Dodge Avenger is definitely one of the car's biggest selling points in the reviews read by TheCarConnection.com.

All trim levels of the 2008 Dodge Avenger come standard with such typical features as air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, and power doors. One innovative new Dodge Avenger feature that has generated a lot of buzz is the new 2008 Dodge Chill Zone, which is basically a pair of refrigerated beverage storage mechanisms in the glove box. Cars.com "questions their effectiveness in the real world," adding that "they do work, in that they get cold or hot, depending on the setting you choose."

Other noteworthy features on the Dodge Avenger include the optional rear-seat video system, which Road & Track describes as "a worthy feature at this price level and in this segment." For the Dodge Avenger, 2008 also brings the MyGIG system, which is basically a hard drive built into the dashboard that lets you store up to 20GB of music and pictures in your car. Cars.com notes that the 2008 Dodge "optional navigation system has a touch-screen, which is better than an 'advanced' multifunction controller" (such as the infamous BMW iDrive).

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Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 7
Features 9
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