A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece outlining my love of cars and how I had never driven a car that didn’t have something I couldn’t find to like. Of course today I can’t remember what I called that post or when I wrote it. Suffice it to say that I can usually find something to like while I’m constructively criticizing the stuff I don’t like. I may have met my match with a car that seems to be universally unloved:
2009 Dodge Avenger
The phone call as I was leaving the Chrysler fleet office:
Mamma G: So, what are you driving today?
Me: A rental Car.
Mamma G: They gave you a rental car?
Me: No, they gave me a Dodge Avenger, which feels like a rental car.
Is that a bit harsh? Well, maybe but I really wasn’t feeling the love for the Avenger. Lackluster styling, inside and out that couldn’t be saved by the rear 1/4 panel bulges that look like an adolescent little brother trying to flex next to the big brother Charger. The interior is a sea of hard plastic, with cheap feeling, cloth seats that were seriously lacking in the support department. The 2.4 liter 4 cylinder is anemic and sounds like it is trying to move mountains when just negotiating stop and go traffic. With a base price in Canada of $22,295 the entry level Avenger is bested by several Asian models that ring in at substantially less money and feel a whole lot better.
While several industry pundits have said that cars like the Avenger are prime examples of why Chrysler is in the financial crisis they are in, I have a little bit of a softer view. After all, one of the Avenger’s stable mates is on my Best Cars of the Year list. The Avenger as a whole is way off the mark and isn’t a car I would ever purchase. Remember that the life cycle of a new car model begins 2 or 3 years before a car goes into production. Who could have predicted that life would get so tough, so quickly for Detroit?
That said, rental cars used to make up a substantial portion of Chrysler’s fleet sales and the Avenger stands out as a Rental Car.