Customer Preferred Package 27V ($1,795 -- includes 3.6-liter V6 engine with dual exhaust); Media Center 430N ($395 -- includes CD/DVD/MP3 player with 30GB hard drive music storage and navigation system)
DOHC, four valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust-valve timing
Strong V6, especially as the revs rise. Gets a perfect amount of wheelspin by going straight from brake to throttle. Times were nearly identical in Auto and Manual modes -- shifts for itself at redline regardless. Noticeable torque steer. Longish 2-3 shift and abrupt 3-4. Manual shifting via console lever (slap left for downshifts); will not hold gears at rev limiter; no throttle blip on downshifts.
Slightly spongy feel with moderately long pedal travel. Quite a bit of nosedive. Pedal felt slightly better on later runs and there was no noticeable amount of fade.
Skid pad: Plenty of understeer and the car wasn't overly willing to change its attitude with drop throttle. Interestingly, stability control was incredibly intrusive, massively cutting throttle and adding some braking, making the ESC-On time considerably slower than ESC-Off -- very different from what happened in the slalom. Slalom: This is a solid car around the cones. Steering has good weighting and some actual feel. Decent grip from the tires lets you throw the Avenger around with verve, and it sticks. ESC can't be defeated, but it has a very high intrusion point whether "On" or "Off"; in fact, braking was added at about the same amount whether "On" or "Off" right at the end of the slalom when the tail would rotate for the last cone. Hence, the nearly identical times.