Used 1996 Dodge Avenger Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

Dodge's sporty coupe gets a panic mode for the remote keyless entry system and a HomeLink transmitter that will open your garage door. ES models get new seat fabric, and three new colors are on the roster.

Vehicle overview

Nobody misses the Dodge Daytona. You will recall that the Daytona was a front-wheel drive sports coupe based on the K-Car chassis. After a decade on the market with minimal changes, Chrysler mercifully pulled the plug on the Daytona, replacing it with the Mitsubishi Galant-based Avenger sports coupe last year.

Avenger competes with the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Monte Carlo; whereas the Daytona was marketed as an alternative to the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. Smaller, lighter and less powerful than the Bird or the Monte, Dodge has managed to squeeze nearly as much interior space and as much performance ability into the smoothly styled Avenger.

Based on the Mitsubishi Galant underpinnings, the Avenger comes in base and ES flavors. The base engine is the 2.0-liter four cylinder found in the Neon, mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The five-speed makes the Avenger quite fun to drive, offering sprightly acceleration. Formerly available on base models only, for 1996 Dodge has included this powerteam as an option on the uplevel ES. Also new this year is a 16-inch aluminum wheel option for the base Avenger, which greatly improves the car's appearance. New on base and ES models is a panic feature that has been added to the remote keyless entry system, and a HomeLink Transmitter that opens up your garage door. Three new colors are on-board for 1996.

The ES comes standard with a 2.5-liter V6 hooked up to a four-speed automatic. No manual is available with the V6, and that's a shame. The ES is slower than the four-cylinder, five-speed model, and is woefully inadequate in comparison to the Thunderbird LX V8 and Monte Carlo Z34. To redeem the Avenger ES, Dodge has priced it between base editions of the Ford and Chevy. ES models get new seat fabrics for 1996.

Overall, the Avenger pleasantly surprises. An accommodating sporty coupe, the Avenger's only shortcoming is weak engine choices, though we've heard rumors about a 200-horsepower plus test mule sporting R/T badging. With prices for the top-of-the-line Avenger ES on par with base editions of competing products, the Avenger is a tempting piece indeed.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.