2009 Dodge Avenger Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 6, 2009

Styling and roominess are reasons to consider the 2009 Dodge Avenger, but otherwise it simply doesn’t stack up.

To bring you this comprehensive review on the 2009 Dodge Avenger, TheCarConnection.com has researched all the best review sources on the Web. The editors of TheCarConnection.com have spent time behind the wheel of several different Avenger sedans and brought their driving impressions to help make the advice and information in this review most useful.

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.

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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.

7

2009 Dodge Avenger

Styling

One glance at the 2009 Dodge Avenger and you'll know it's a Dodge. One look inside and you'll wish it wasn't.

The Dodge Avenger arrives on the scene in 2008 as the replacement for the old Dodge Stratus. As part of Chrysler's new look for Dodge, this 2009 Dodge Avenger echoes the styling of the bigger Dodge Charger with mixed results.

Reviewers at Edmunds state that the 2009 Dodge Avenger, a mid-size sedan, "comes in three trim levels: base SE, well-equipped SXT and sporty R/T," though the external differences are few. All three versions feature styling similar to the Dodge Charger, leading Car and Driver reviewers to christen the Avenger the "Chargerette." Some reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praise the styling, especially Cars.com, which says that "the Avenger's design is its greatest appeal," noting that "it definitely stands apart from many midsize competitors in what is arguably the most homogenous vehicle class." MotherProof reviewers also love this 2009 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."

Despite some squabbling among the automotive experts about the exterior styling merits of the Dodge Avenger, few would claim that the interior 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, claiming 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 among the low-grade materials, claiming that "the R/T trim 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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6

2009 Dodge Avenger

Performance

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.

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.

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6

2009 Dodge Avenger

Comfort & Quality

Interior space will likely impress in the 2009 Dodge Avenger, but it hardly makes up for the disappointing materials quality.

The spacious 2009 Dodge Avenger earns high marks in terms of interior space, but most reviews read by TheCarConnection.com slam the Dodge Avenger for its poor interior quality.

Motor Trend reviewers vouch that there is "ample interior space" inside this 2009 Dodge, "thanks to an extra four inches in overall height versus the Dodge Stratus," allowing the 2009 Dodge Avenger to seat five occupants comfortably. 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 similarly notes that "the rear seat is spacious enough for two adults, although the seat-bottom cushion is a bit too low."

The Dodge Avenger's ample interior, while big enough to seat its passengers, loses out to some competitors in terms of cargo room. 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." Edmunds adds that the Dodge Avenger's "trunk capacity is a bit below the segment average at 13.4 cubic feet." On the positive side, Autoblog gleefully notes that "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."

One area where professional reviewers all find themselves in agreement is when discussing the interior quality on this 2009 Dodge. 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." Edmunds reviewers find that "it's hard to get past the mediocre quality of the interior materials," while ConsumerGuide says that "the cabin disappoints with abundant hard-plastic surfaces." ConsumerGuide also reports that, "in one test model, the plastic housing for the center console's sliding armrest snapped off."

In response to some criticisms about noise levels on last year's Dodge Avenger, Chrysler upgrades the 2009 Avenger with improved noise insulation. ConsumerGuide reviewers notice the difference, reporting that "wind noise is effectively hushed, even at highway speed," and Cars.com says that, "to seal out noise, Dodge used the firewall...from the diesel version of the car sold in Europe."

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7

2009 Dodge Avenger

Safety

The 2009 Dodge Avenger has admirable crash-test ratings but comes up short on standard accident-avoiding safety features.

The 2009 Dodge Avenger offers an excellent chassis that scores well in crash tests, but when it comes to other safety features, the Dodge Avenger is far from the top of the class.

TheCarConnection.com's research shows that the 2009 Dodge Avenger scores quite well in both government and insurance industry crash tests. In NHTSA's tests, the Dodge Avenger earns a perfect five-star rating for both front impact and front side impact protection. In the rear side impact test, the Dodge Avenger scores four out of a possible five stars. The IIHS, which uses a more stringent set of tests, also rates the 2009 Dodge Avenger highly. In both the frontal offset impact and side impact tests, the Dodge Avenger earns the highest possible rating, "good," from the IIHS.

When it comes to standard safety features on the 2009 Dodge Avenger, prepare to be disappointed. Kelley Blue Book states that the standard equipment includes "front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, but not anti-lock brakes," which have become an industry staple in the mid-size sedan segment. Edmunds is disappointed to find that "all four-cylinder Avengers come with front disc and rear drum brakes," while "stability and traction control are available on the SXT and R/T as part of each trim's respective premium package." Some competitors offer both of those features as standard equipment.

For families with young children, the availability of safety seat hooks, as well as ease of installation, becomes a major safety concern. According to MotherProof, this 2009 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." As for space, they add that "child-safety seats would fit fine as long as you and/or your passenger aren't really tall."

One area where some sedans can earn safety brownie points is for driver visibility, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2009 Dodge Avenger has some problem spots. 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.

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2009 Dodge Avenger

Features

The 2009 Dodge Avenger stakes its claim as one of the class leaders when it comes to available high-tech options.

While the 2009 Dodge Avenger is alternately praised and panned for various other aspects, reviewers hold nothing but praise in the features department. In terms of both optional and standard features, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com call the Dodge Avenger's high-tech amenities some of the car's biggest selling points.

Standard features on the base 2009 Dodge Avenger include all the usual suspects, according to Edmunds, which lists such features as "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."

Moving up the trim levels, ConsumerGuide remarks that the Dodge Avenger SXT adds an "8-way power driver seat w/lumbar adjustment [and] fold-flat passenger seat," along with "steering wheel radio controls." 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.

In addition to the cool standard features, the 2009 Dodge Avenger is available with a lengthy options list that has reviewers talking. Edmunds reports that the Dodge Avenger SXT offers a premium package that "includes many of the standard features on the R/T trim plus a heated and cooled cupholder, heated front seats and remote start," although some buyers will be disappointed to hear that "options are mostly limited to the SXT and R/T" trims. 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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2009 Dodge Avenger 4-Door Sedan SXT

reliable stylish ride

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i love this car for what i bought it for which was a reliable car good on gas. it has also given me little to no mechanical problem which has been awesome and although i have a regular sxt 4 cyl im usually... + More »
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