What's New for 2010
The Dodge Avenger's SE base trim has been dropped, while a midgrade trim known as the Express has been added.
The 2010 Dodge Avenger leaves us wondering what it's supposed to be avenging. Perhaps the death of Chrysler's competitive-at-the-time "cloud car" midsize sedans, the Cirrus and Stratus of the mid-to-late 1990s? Alas, the Avenger is hardly up to the task, as it's outclassed in nearly every way by rival modern four-doors.
The Avenger's tough-guy grille might get you thinking that it's a decent performer, but looks are highly deceiving in this case. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder motor sounds coarse at higher engine speeds, and it makes do with a four-speed automatic even though every rival offers at least five speeds (or a CVT). The optional 3.5-liter V6 is down on power relative to other V6 family sedans, and acceleration consequently lags behind the pack. Even fuel economy is unimpressive.
The 2010 Dodge Avenger's interior is also a letdown. Its materials would barely pass muster in a cut-rate economy car, and build quality is lackluster. At least the highway ride is pleasant enough, which will be of interest to those who happen to rent an Avenger on vacation. Rear passenger space is adequate, but the seat itself is not particularly comfortable. What's more, the trunk is one of the smallest you'll find in a family sedan.
Clearly, there are better choices if you're shopping in this segment. Top picks include the Ford Fusion, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima, as well as perennial favorites like the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry. We're still not sure what this Dodge is avenging, but we'd recommend keeping it off your test-drive list.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Dodge Avenger midsize sedan comes in three trim levels: SXT, Express and R/T. The SXT comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a cooled front storage compartment and a four-speaker CD audio system with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. There are hardly any options for the SXT.
The Express adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foldaway heated mirrors, eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, leather-wrapped wheel and shifter and a six-speaker sound system with touchscreen stereo interface, digital music storage and steering-wheel controls. The R/T includes this equipment but adds foglamps, leather upholstery and a rear spoiler. It does not have the touchscreen stereo with digital music storage, but does feature a more conventional system with a six-CD changer.
R/T options include the Express' upgraded stereo or a further upgraded multimedia bundle featuring Bluetooth, a hard-drive-based navigation system, real-time traffic, digital music storage and the additional option of six Boston Acoustics speakers. Bluetooth is available separately on all trims, and 18-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels with performance tires can be had on the R/T. Also available on the R/T is a Premium package that adds automatic climate control, automatic headlamps, LED headliner accents, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and remote engine start.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2010 Dodge Avenger Express and SXT are powered by a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission is a four-speed automatic. The Avenger R/T starts with the same engine and transmission, but it can be outfitted with an optional 3.5-liter V6 good for 235 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque. The V6 gets a six-speed automatic and yields a 0-60-mph time of 7.7 seconds, which puts it at the back of the back among V6-powered family sedans.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2010 Dodge Avenger SXT are 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. The V6-powered R/T is rated at 16/27/20 mpg.
Standard safety equipment on the 2010 Dodge Avenger includes antilock brakes, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Stability control is optional on the R/T but unavailable on the SXT (though fleet buyers have the option of ordering stability control for the SXT).
In government crash tests, the Avenger earned a top five-star rating for its performance in head-on collisions. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Avenger a score of "Good" (the best possible) in its frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The poor quality of the Avenger's interior materials is a major letdown, especially if you compare the Avenger to cars like the Fusion or Accord. The R/T's sporty white-faced gauges brighten the scene a bit, but not nearly enough. The optional navigation system and touchscreen audio interface can be irritating to use, though its digital music storage and real-time traffic features are appreciated. The Avenger's rear seat is spacious enough for two adults, but the seat cushion is low and the outboard head restraints aren't adjustable as they are in most competitors. Trunk capacity is small for this segment at 13.4 cubic feet.
The four-cylinder 2010 Dodge Avenger offers sluggish acceleration and unrefined gearchanges from the outdated four-speed automatic. The optional V6 in the R/T is notably stronger and benefits from the six-speed automatic, but it's still one of the least powerful V6s in its class. Handling capabilities are likewise underwhelming, though the Avenger does have decent ride quality.