First Look: 2011 Dodge Avenger

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.

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