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MotorWeek Video Transcript: Dodge Avenger FFV

The Avenger nameplate has dressed its share of metal over the years. Now, it finds it marquee on a midsize four-door that Dodge hopes will sway a meaningful slice of family sedan sales into their direction. But it will take more than powerfully carved curves and heady nameplate for this Avenger to become a hero.

As Dodge aimed to build a replacement for its mid-size Stratus family sedan, they stepped forth with the same boldness that defines the rest of their line-up.  Taking cues from tigers and boxing gloves, Dodge brings to fruition the all-new sport-infused 2008 Avenger sedan.

Available in four trims, SE, SXT, our RT and RT AWD, the Avenger boasts the same Dodge “gotcha” attitude as the full-size Charger.

Aggression oozes from the brand’s signature crosshair grille and the sinister stare of the large quad headlamps.

The hood is stamped with crisp, vertical muscle-car lines, while the upturned beltline makes way for the Avenger’s hunched rear shoulders and short rear deck.  As finishers, our car’s trunk lid spoiler and dual chrome exhaust tips did the trick.

The four-door Avenger jumps to life with one of three power plants; a 2.4-liter double-over-head-cam inline-4 with variable-valve timing, producing 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque.  Next up is an E85 capable 2.7-liter double-over-head-cam V6 that rates 189 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque. Topped off with our RT’s 3.5-liter single-over-head-cam V6, outputting 235 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque.

The two smaller engines mate to a four-speed automatic transaxle, while the 3.5-liter is handled by a six-speed automatic with manual shift mode.

Though front-drive is the norm, Dodge now offers an AWD equipped RT, a first for the Chrysler Group in the mid-size segment. Like many AWD system its sends power to the rear wheels only when needed.  Electronic Stability Program with Traction Control is also standard on the RT AWD, and it’s available on all but the SE.  All making sure that power goes where you want it.  Our Avenger clocked from 0 to 60 in a respectable 7.2 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 15.7 seconds at 90 miles-per-hour.  The 3.5 asserts itself nicely off the line, with just the right amount of power for a pseudo-sport sedan daily driver.

The Avenger RT achieves its street prowess with a sport-tuned all-independent suspension. And though it shares most structure and mechanical bits with the Chrysler Sebring sedan, it felt far more tightly screwed together.

The Avenger showed itself to be athletic, nicely-balanced, and solid.  It stayed relatively flat through the cones and while pushing like most front drivers, remained very responsive overall.

Standard brakes are disc/drum with ABS on all but the SE.  RT trim adds all-discs with Brake Assist. Halts average a slightly long 135 feet from 60 to 0 but were straight and stable.

Inside, find an airy cabin that’s comparable in size to Camry and Accord. The dash layout is typically American, straightforward with large switches and controls. The deep-set, white faced gauges are sporty and easy to read, while the steering wheel tilts and telescopes. Side and curtain airbags are standard as well.

From the Caliber comes the standard Chill Zone, an in-dash cooling bin for water and soda. Clever heated and cooled cup holders are an option. Our RT came with a standard 6-disc CD stereo with auxiliary jack. Upgrades include a hands free phone, information center, 20 gig hard drive audio/navigation system, and rear-seat DVD player.

That seat has room for three adults, an armrest, and a 60/40 split folding feature. That, along with a front folding passenger seat on all but the base car, more than makes up for a somewhat small 13.6 cubic foot trunk.

Our Avenger RT has a Government Fuel Economy of 16 city/26 highway.  We managed a fine test loop of 24 miles-per-gallon on regular gas. The 3.5’s Energy Impact Score is a good 15.6 barrels of oil per year. But, select the 2.7 V6 and use E85, and it drops to only 4.4 barrel a year. That beats a Camry hybrid by half.

As for pricing, the Avenger SE starts at $18,895, the mid-level SXT at $19,795, while the RT stickers for $23,545.  An RT with AWD jumps up another $2,000 to $25,545.

Dodge’s new warrior, the 2008 Avenger, is an aggressive entry into the mid-size segment. It adds a shot of sport and muscle to family duties without compromising comfort.  For virtually any vehicle, that’s quite an accomplishment, and its makes the Avenger an everyday hero.