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Dodge Avenger SX 2007 review

You'd want something fairly ferocious with a moniker like Avenger, wouldn't you? Something on massive rims that comes, preferably, in translucent black. Something in which your Marvel comic hero might rip about his rounds, making evildoers quake.

Well, the Avenger is distinctive enough all right, if not quite the affront to design decency that some have unkindly suggested.

And it does smite you squarely between the peepers.

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This is a wholly deliberate tactic, for Dodge's notion is to rough up the polite, quietly spoken denizens of the mid-size sedan segment.

So beware Honda Accords, Mazda 6 and even Camry/Aurion. Shiver, Volkswagen Jetta — not least because Dodge has the temerity to use your TDI engine in its diesel variant.

This bigger, even brasher brother of Dodge's Caliber is a sort of mini-muscle car, although the long front overhang on which the trademark crosshair grille is perched removes any doubt that this Ram is driven through the front, not the back, wheels.

It drags a high-set bum that's spared comparison with the Accord Euro's abrupt butt only by a bulbous rear bumper, though comparison with any Japanese car seems misplaced.

Even the glasshouse looks tough, the side windows meeting the C-pillar in an angular collision of glass, plastic and metal that looks singular (and conspires to rob rear vision).

The Avenger's particularly unattractive optional spoiler is sure to be popular among those drawn to a car that's cast from a whole different mould to the mid-size mass. If unresolved is one word for its design, another is unadulterated.

The Avenger will exercise its allure on those who can't rise to a Chrysler 300C but have a craving for a throbbing chunk of Americana. Or Amerikana, if you go for the model with the VW/Audi engine.

Within, such trappings as leather trim on the top-spec diesel and V6 petrol versions (unsurprisingly, the only models available to us on Thursday in Seville) won't disguise the Avenger's sub-Kia cabin — a desert of hard, grey plastics topped by a roof lining that feels flimsily fitted.

These contrast starkly with fruity fixtures such as temperature-adjustable cup holders and a multimedia entertainment system that, among its various tricks, can play movies to rear-seat passengers and store 100 hours of music.

The best entry-level price in the segment is promised for the stripper two-litre, four-cylinder petrol model when the Avenger is launched locally in late July. It will be joined by a 2.4-litre petrol four and the 2.0 TDI.

The 2.7 V6 follows near year's end, along with an automatic version of the till-then-six-speed manual diesel.

Mid-size slayers though they're built up to be, Avengers start out north of 1500kg and rise to 1560kg in the diesel. Falcodore heavy, really.

They're not hares off the line: the auto-only V6 reaches 100km/h in a claimed nine seconds — a good second and a half faster than the petrol or diesel fours.

Not so long ago, big family sedans were of the Avenger's dimensions. Just 20mm short of five metres long and 1843mm wide, it's a genuine five-seater.

The 438-litre boot's utility is boosted by 60/40 split folding rear seats and — unusually for a saloon — the front passenger seat folds flat. Why the space saver spare, then?

By the time of the V6 Avenger's Australian debut, it will hopefully have acquired an automatic with the cogs to match its pots.

Yet as inadequate as the four-speed version we drove on Thursday was, this Avenger was a spirited performer, climbing with vigour and responsiveness through the Andalusian mountains.

Nose-heavy understeer is as tame as it is inevitable, but there is much to be extracted on the safe side of that.

With decently weighted steering married to a flat, composed stance through bends, only the Avenger's displacement would keep it from staying with the class-leading Mazda 6.

The Avenger, though, has superior NVH and ride — at least on first-world roads that have never been afflicted by the RTA. If this spec is designed for European rather than American tastes, Dodge has done as much work on the Avenger's chassis as on the sheet metal.

A brief go at the diesel served to show mainly that the Yanks can barely be bothered doing stick.

The shift was sloppy, the clutch doughy, and the elsewhere excellent engine couldn't move the Avenger with the same torqueative authority with which it shoves along the Jetta.

If this sedan is class-leading in few respects — least of all in terms of cabin ambience or economy — it won't be mistaken for anything else on the road.

In that respect — the reason for which Dodge developed the thing — the Avenger is in a class apart.

And in black, it may even frighten a few felons.

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Range and Specs

SX 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,720 – 8,030 2007 Dodge Avenger 2007 SX Pricing and Specs
SXT 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,950 – 7,260 2007 Dodge Avenger 2007 SXT Pricing and Specs
Paul Pottinger
Contributing Journalist


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