To me, the best things about the Avenger are that it looks exactly like a sporty Dodge should and that it's so much more attractive than its platform-mate, the confusedly styled Chrysler Sebring. The powertrain's performance, as Jean noted, is also quite good, although I yearned for even more urge out of the big 3.5-liter V-6 (the front wheels can handle only so much power, though). The exhaust note sounds nice and throaty when the car is idling, too. The close-ratio six-speed automatic shifts quickly, although its performance is sometimes inconsistent, preventing the powerful V-6 from always hitting its optimal torque points. More solidly on the negative ledger, I found the R/T's ride quality a bit too crashy but its handling a bit too soft.
My colleagues accurately described the disappointing interior ad nauseam, but I must add a couple additional notes:
- The iPod integration when you hook it in through the USB input leaves much to be desired. MyGig loaded only a limited, seemingly random number of the songs stored on my iPod. Plus, the interface was incomplete and confusing, at least over the course of a few trial hours.
- The driver's seat lumbar support is intrusive, even on its lightest setting. Dodge insists that you have perfect posture!
- The sunroof open/close button says "AUTO," but I'm highly skeptical ... My one-touch-opening wishes were granted every time over the weekend, but activating the auto-close function consistently required three taps of the button. At that point, I may as well just keep my finger on the switch until the glass panel is shut. This is an unnecessary luxury, I admit, but if the car has this feature, shouldn't it at least work properly?
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor