The changes aren't monumental, but it's the details that count. The Dodge Avenger is still a few years out from a complete redesign, but Mopar enthusiasts will surely embrace the changes made to the 2011 model.
Following in the footsteps of the its recently revealed Chrysler 200 sibling, the 2011 Avenger is a stopgap to freshen things up until an all-new, Fiat-based model arrives in a few years' time.
You'll notice the drab black, gray, and silver Avenger interior of old has left the building. As you step into the cockpit you're greeted by the colorful gauge cluster and updated steering wheel. Dodge ordered new cloth and leather material for the seats, which are now appointed with more cushioning and retuned base springs. Soft-touch armrests envelop the innards, and 45 new or upgraded sound-dampening treatments have been installed to help quiet the ride.
Continuing the parade of interior changes, the three-spoke steering wheel is fitted with more buttons to control the sound system, cruise control, and more. The vents have been redesigned for aesthetic and functional purposes, and two-tone color schemes may be ordered if desired. Further features include ambient lighting, voice command, a USB port, navigation, Bluetooth, and a hard drive with Gracenote music identification.
The base Avenger will once again start with Chrysler's 2.4-liter World Engine -- an inline-four currently rated at 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque -- that has been recalibrated and matched with a six-speed automatic (2010 models use a four-speed). The top engine for the R/T trim is -- you guessed it -- a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, also mechanically linked to a six-speed auto. We expect fuel economy to improve slightly for the respective four- and six-cylinder engines for the new model year.
Performance changes spread to the ride as well. Engineers took the opportunity to give the suspension an overhaul, adding new components and revising the overall geometry. The front and rear track grows an inch to 62.8 inches, while ride height drops 0.47 inch in the front and 0.24 inch out back. The standard tire width expands from 215 millimeters to 225 millimeters, giving the Avenger more rubber (and more usable power) to put to the ground. Dodge says 26 of the 30 different suspension bushings have been redesigned. The sum alterations supposedly decrease body roll and shake, and deliver enhanced steering feel and dynamic response.
The Avenger's overall shape is mostly the same from the front, side, and especially the back. As expected, Dodge's corporate split crosshair grille is prominently displayed up front. The lower front fascia gets flared out a bit for a more aggressive look. Thankfully the Avenger ditches the chunky design elements propagated on the current model.
Itching to put the refreshed Avenger through its paces? We are. The improved Dodge is set to arrive at Dodge dealers later this year.