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2009 Dodge Avenger ReviewThe Good
The 2009 Dodge Avenger packs a boatload of features into its midsize frame, which, combined with its good looks and reasonable fuel economy, equal a carload of value.The Bad
Handling issues and interior quality as well as engine noise and a disappointing six-speed automatic transmission keep the ’09 Avenger trailing many of its competitors.
The CarGurus View
As long as owners understand that the 2009 Dodge Avenger aims at value and style, they won’t regret their choice. Chrysler’s best-in-the-business Lifetime Powertrain Limited Warranty provides a lot of peace of mind.
At a Glance
The first thing that hits you when approaching the 2009 Dodge Avenger is that somebody managed to shrink a Charger, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. The Avenger isn’t shy about its somewhat retro styling, its sizable headlights, bold, cross-piece grille, bulging wheel arches, and wide stance.
Re-introduced in 2008 to replace the Stratus and sharing the Chrysler Sebring's platform, the ’09 Avenger is a four-door family sedan that’s delivered in three trim levels, the base SE, SXT, and high-end R/T. As its only significant change for ’09, Dodge dropped the Avenger R/T all-wheel-drive trim, and all trims are presently offered solely in the front-wheel-drive (FWD) configuration.
Though a contender for Motor Trend’s Car Of The Year, the Avenger was up against the likes of the Chevy Malibu, Toyota Camry, and Honda Accord, and it just isn’t up to that sort of competition. Reviewers and owners, however, give the ’09 Avenger high marks for value in its class.
The Avenger line-up features three available engines and two transmissions for 2009.
The base 2.4-liter, 16-valve inline four (I4) with a four-speed automatic transmission is standard on Avenger’s SE and SXT trims. This combination puts out 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque and gets an EPA-estimated 21/30 mpg. Reviewers find that the I4 needs a lot of passing and merging space, but handles downtown driving pretty well and its fuel economy is a plus.
A 2.7-liter Flex Fuel (ethanol-capable) V6 with the four-speed automatic is an option for the SXT. This engine delivers 189 hp and 191 lb-ft with the EPA estimating 19/27. One professional reviewer found the 2.7-liter engine only marginally better than the I4 in all driving conditions.
The Avenger R/T is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 that reviewers find more than adequately powerful, but the R/T's standard six-speed AutoStick transmission displays an annoying and unacceptably noisy and clunky delay when downshifting. Dodge recommends drivers use 89-octane fuel with the 3.5-liter V6, which gets an estimated 13/26.
Ride & Handling
For 2009, the Avenger SE and SXT feature 16- and 17-inch steel and aluminum wheels, respectively, along with a front independent MacPherson strut suspension, rear independent multi-link suspension, a front stabilizer bar, and rack-and-pinion power steering. The R/T offers 18-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels, a sport-tuned suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars, and firm-feel power steering.
Almost all professional reviewers of the 2009 Avenger found its handling characteristics well below the competition's, with considerable corner roll, loosey-goosey steering characteristics, and a serious deficiency of suspension refinement, resulting in not inconsiderable squeaking and moaning on bumpy road surfaces. Avenger’s SE trim was the culprit singled out most frequently for these complaints, and though no trim was especially impressive, one reviewer finds the Avenger SXT to have the best overall ride, while another finds the R/T better, but still not great.
Though reviewers mention the R/T gets touted as a “sport” trim, none find its handling especially sporty. One professional reviewer did find the R/T's road feel and grip better than the SE or SXT due to its stiffer suspension and firmer steering.
Cabin & Comfort
Though many reviewers and some owners feel cabin quality and materials could be better, most consider the gauges large and easy to read. Controls are, for the most part, well-marked and easily accessible. Many reviewers feel the number of standard features offered with the 2009 Avenger is a major contributor to its overall value.
Standard features for the ’09 Avenger SE include Chill Zone storage, split-folding rear seats, keyless entry, air-conditioning, Sirius satellite radio, power mirrors, windows, and door locks, stain-resistant fabric, a single-disc CD/MP3 player with four speakers, the Sentry Key anti-theft system, and an electroluminescent instrument cluster. The Avenger SXT adds four-wheel disc ABS, a leather-wrapped telescoping tilt steering wheel with audio controls, a fold-flat front passenger seat for extra cargo space, foglights, a six-disc CD/MP3 player with six speakers, cruise control, an eight-way power driver’s seat, and the UConnect hands-free communications system. The R/T trim offers chrome exhaust tips, a tachometer, a leather-wrapped shift knob, automatic temperature control, the sport-tuned suspension, six Boston Acoustics speakers, and heated power outside mirrors.
Options for the ’09 Avenger include a power sunroof, universal garage door opener, the MyGIG infotainment system with GPS navigation, a 20GB hard drive for MP3 storage and Sirius Traffic service, heated seats, remote start, and, for the SXT trim, the 2.7-liter V6 with four-speed automatic transmission.
For 2009, all Avenger trims offer such standard safety features as front multi-stage airbags, supplemental side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, brake/park interlock, a tire pressure monitoring system, rear door child protection locks, and a security alarm system. The SXT and R/T trims also offer four-wheel ABS, ESP, and traction control as standard equipment. Reviewers and owners both have mentioned a worrisome blind spot where the rear roof pillar severely limits visibility out the rear window.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the ’09 Dodge Avenger five stars in front and side impact crash tests.
What Owners Think
Most owners and drivers of the 2009 Dodge Avenger are well aware of the vehicle’s shortcomings, but have been won over by its looks and its value.
Braking issues have been noted by a few owners, as have disappointing interior materials, shifting, and less-than-ideal handling characteristics (though one owner lauded the Avenger R/T as “fun” to drive). Its noisy I4 has also annoyed some owners, and a noticeable blind spot was mentioned as problematic.
Drivers are pleased, however, with the ’09 Avenger’s styling, roominess, and most especially the number of standard features it includes. Owners and drivers have also praised the Avenger’s acceleration, specifically with the 2.7-liter V6, and the gas mileage they get with the 2.7-liter V6 and the 2.4-liter I4 engines.
Chrysler’s Lifetime Powertrain Limited Warranty, available on all Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles, is another plus mentioned by Avenger owners.
Have Laptop, Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.