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The brutal truth

<p>Dodge is after some buzz, and it starts with a name. Think about its name compared to its competitors — while picturing your favourite spandex’d superhero: Camry, Aura, Accord, Fusion, Sonata ... Avenger!</p>

With the Avenger, image is what counts



The 2008 Dodge Avenger has commendable on-road manners, thanks to a great deal of refinement. Inside, you’ll find easy-to-use controls with good fits and finish.





Dodge is after some buzz, and it starts with a name. Think about its name compared to its competitors — while picturing your favourite spandex’d superhero: Camry, Aura, Accord, Fusion, Sonata ... Avenger!





The Avenger starts at $21,995 for the base model SE — a good deal less than its competitors — and flies right up to just over $30,000 for the R/T version. On the Avenger R/T, all-wheel-drive will be available soon, an option which is currently ‘the hotness’ among car shoppers.





Besides the very competitive pricing, just look at it. The Avenger looks like it was designed by pitbulls with a taste for mayhem. Which helps when the base SE model comes with a 173 horsepower, 4-cylinder engine — powerful compared with other base engines in its class, but is more suited to fuel economy than chasing bad guys.





That engine is mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. The SE also comes standard with air conditioning; dual front, side, and curtain airbags, chill zone (a heated and cooled in-dash box), and keyless entry.





Onwards and upwards is the $23,960 SXT that features the same engine as the SE, but with a few more goodies, like ABS, 17-inch wheels, chrome front grille, power driver’s seat, and stain-resistant seat fabric. Optional on the SXT is a more powerful 189 horsepower flex-fuel capable V6 engine.





At the top, the most super Avenger, the R/T, comes standard with a 235 horsepower V6 engine mated to a shiftable 5-speed automatic transmission. It has performance-tuned steering and sport suspension, trunk-lid spoiler, 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust, and fog lights. The R/T rings in at $28,860 for the front-wheel-drive model, and $30,860 for the all-wheel-drive version.





The all-wheel-drive version also comes equipped with standard traction control, electronic stability control, and brake assist, which helps apply more brake pressure if the driver is not fully-utilizing the vehicle’s stopping power.





All Avengers have commendable on-road manners, thanks to a great deal of refinement. The mirrors and windshield pillars have been wind-tunnel tested for less drag (therefore less noise), it has acoustically-tuned engine covers, tuned engine mounts, and foam-filled cavities that would otherwise magnify unwanted sounds and vibrations.





Inside, you’ll find easy-to-use controls with good fits and finish — although some plastics seem low-grade.





For digital buffs, the MyG!G infotainment system is optional on the SXT and R/T, which features a 20Gb hard drive, USB port, satellite radio receiver, the ability to support navigation, handsfree phone operation, digital music, pictures, and movies for $1,995.





In all, a good value if you’d like to replay embarrassing clips on the way home from the family vacation — bearing in mind that the rear-seat DVD video system is another stand-alone ($1,190) option.





But the best thing about the Avenger? It’s practical enough to let you be a supermom or superdad to your kids, while looking like a superhero to everyone else.

















2008 Dodge Avenger R/T


Type: Mid-size 5-passenger sedan FWD


Price: $28,860


Engine: 3.5-litre V6 SOHC


Horsepower: 235 @ 6400 rpm


Torque (lb-ft): 232 @ 4000 rpm


Highlights: Lots of performance, sporty character, optional all-wheel-drive, cooled beverage storage bin, available heated/cooled cupholder in console.