Avenger

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2008 Dodge Avenger Test Drive Review

Picture of 2008 Dodge Avenger SXT FWD

The Dodge Avenger offers sporty styling, multiple V6 engine options, and some truly unique in-car features.

6.8 /10
Overall Score

More commonly known for its minivans and performance cars, Dodge is not a name one would readily associate with the family sedan market. The American automaker seeks to change that with the midsize, five-passenger Avenger.

The name “Avenger” was originally used for a sleek Dodge coupe, sold from 1995 to 2000, but this Avenger arrives for the 2008 model year with muscle car-inspired styling and assures it will stand out in a crowded parking lot of cookie-cutter sedans. It is also one of the few family sedans for this model year to offer available all-wheel drive.

Look and Feel

6/ 10

The Avenger is based on a platform shared with the Chrysler Sebring, Chrysler 200, and the Dodge Journey crossover. While the styling is meant to evoke the Charger sport sedan, it actually looks like a sedan version of Journey. Where the broad lines of the Charger deliver that modern-muscle-car spirit, those design elements on the Avenger leave it feeling blocky, and the high trunk design feels busy.

The Avenger has a more conventional cabin, with a clean design and crisp layout. Unfortunately, the fit-and-finish is lacking, as there is extensive use of hard plastic. What saves the interior of the Avenger is the white-backed instrument panel, adding a touch of luxury to the cabin.

Compared to other family sedans on the market, the Avenger has a simple and straightforward trim lineup: SE, SXT, and R/T. The SE comes with cloth seats, air conditioning, 16-inch steel wheels, and remote keyless entry.

The SXT adds 17-inch wheels and premium cloth seats with lumbar support for the driver, while the range-topping R/T boasts unique 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic temperature control, and heated mirrors.

Performance

7/ 10

The SE and SXT come with a 173-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine The SXT is available with a 2.7-liter V6 engine making 185 horsepower. Both of these engines send power to the front wheels through a 4-speed automatic transmission.

The R/T is the most powerful version of the Avenger, equipped with a 235-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. It routes power through a 6-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels or available all-wheel drive (AWD). The 2.7-liter V6 is underpowered and if you want V6 grunt, it's best to simply go with the R/T.

Form and Function

7/ 10

The Avenger comes with 13.4 cubic feet of trunk space. Despite the high rear deck-lid this is on the smaller side for trunk space among the family sedan set. This can be expanded with the split-fold rear bench.

The cabin layout of the Avenger is useful and features a two-tier glovebox, which helps when organizing all your items. The center stack has a deep tray, as does the center console. The center cup holders are quite deep and have integrated ambient lighting.

Tech Level

9/ 10

The base stereo comes with an AM/FM/satellite radio unit with an auxiliary audio input and four speakers. The stereo in the SXT and R/T upgrades that to six speakers.

The Avenger is available with a backseat entertainment system, which is a rarity among family sedans. It consists of a fold-out screen integrated into the rear of the center console. The Avenger is also available with a navigation system with a 20-gigabyte hard drive with audio and photo storage.

The Avenger also has a very clever feature called the “Chill Zone,” which blows cold air into the upper and lower glove boxes. Both tiers even have grooves for bottles.

Safety

7/ 10

The Avenger comes standard with front and rear head airbags, front-impact airbags, and dual front side-mounted airbags. The Avenger also comes standard with a tire pressure monitoring system, auto-off headlights, and an emergency interior trunk release.

The SE and SXT have front-disc and rear-drum brakes. Moving up to the R/T adds four-wheel disc brakes, as well as electronic brake-force distribution, which will offer better pedal feel and stopping accuracy. The R/T also adds fog lights and automatic headlights.

Cost-Effectiveness

5/ 10

The most efficient version of the 2008 Dodge Avenger is the base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with the 4-speed automatic transmission, returning 21 mpg city, 30 city, 24 combined. The smaller 2.7-liter V6 returns 19 mpg city, 27 highway, 22 combined.

The larger 3.5-liter V6 in the R/T returns 16 mpg city, 26 highway, 19 combined when paired to front-wheel drive. The AWD version of the R/T returns 16 mpg city, 24 city, 18 combined.

Base MSRP for the 2008 Dodge Avenger is $19,640, which is steep considering the quality of the competition. That price is more than the Camry but less than the Accord, both of which are superior vehicles to the Avenger. The SXT trim starts at $20,570, while the range-topping R/T starts at $24,220 for the FWD version and $26,220 for the AWD model.

Updated

From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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