First Look: 2012 Dodge Avenger R/T

Front dampers are 15-percent stiffer than standard Avengers, while those in back are now 20-percent firmer than before. Capping things off is a new rear sway bar, which, at 21mm, is two millimeters thicker than usual.

In plain English: This theoretically has the makings of a sedan that can corner -- not careen -- through tight switchbacks and sweeping bends.

The Avenger R/T's powertrain may not have received a makeover, but its exterior has. Along with a body-colored crosshair grille, R/T models receive black headlamp surrounds, unique 18-inch aluminum wheels, a rear spoiler, and so-called war paint -- a vintage Mopar visual cue revived for the 2010 Challenger -- on the front quarter panels.

Inside, a new instrument cluster puts an R/T-labeled tachometer front and center, while driver and front passenger are held in place by cloth bucket seats with enlarged leather-trimmed bolsters. Standard equipment also includes a 276-watt Boston Acoustic sound system, red accent stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, and aluminum pedals patterned after those used in SRT models.

Will all this transform the Avenger into a verifiable performance sedan? We're not going to go that far, but if Gilles' promises hold true -- and we suspect they will -- the Avenger R/T could prove to be a practical sedan that offers some reward when the Road / Track beckons. We'll know for certain shortly, as production is slated to begin in the third quarter of 2011.

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Slapping the RT designation on this vehicle just tarnishes the once stellar reputation of Chrysler. This vehicle is about as exciting as watching bacteria divide. If it does not have 350+HP, leave the RT off of the vehicle.

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