This is a big year for the Dodge Avenger. Like many vehicles beneath the Chrysler umbrella, it starts 2011 with a wholly redesigned interior, as well as a new V-6. The 3.6-liter Pentastar, as the six-shooter is called, is a vast improvement over its predecessor. Its output of 283 hp is an increase of 20 percent, while the improvements in general power delivery and smoothness are nearly unquantifiable.
For 2012, that engine will power the Avenger R/T that is making its debut at the New York auto show. The R/T sees no uptick in output, nor does the calibration of the six-speed automatic transmission change. But the suspension is stiffened slightly all around. Roll stiffness increases 18 percent, while spring rates increase 17 percent up front and “more than 12 percent” (12.3 percent? 8000 percent?) in the rear. Damping rates increase 15 percent up front and “almost 20” out back. Additionally, the 21-mm rear anti-roll bar is 2 millimeters thicker than the regular car’s.
Aesthetic changes are minimal. The R/T gets a body-color grille, black headlight surrounds, unique 18-inch wheels, and Dodge’s “war paint” hash marks on the front fenders. The trunklid gets a spoiler and an R/T badge. The car gets a bit more of a makeover inside, where the bolstered leather seats have Z-stripe inserts and red stitching, as well as “R/T” embroidered in the front headrests. The driver grips a leather steering wheel with red accent stitching and faces a unique gauge cluster with a tach front and center—very important when driving an automatic.
Dodge isn’t quoting a price yet for the R/T, but figure on it being at the top of the Avenger lineup. Remote start and Dodge’s touch-screen-controlled Boston Acoustics stereo system will be among the standard equipment cribbed from the Lux model that previously sat atop the range. Pricing for that car starts around $24,000, so we expect the R/T to come in somewhere around $26,000 or so. While that’s into base Charger territory, the Avenger R/T will have a lot more personality than a stripped Charger. With 260 lb-ft routed to the front wheels, it also will have a lot more torque steer.
Thanks to: Car and Driver