An all-new model for 2008, the Dodge Avenger is the sister car to the Chrysler Sebring, which was redesigned for 2007. While the Sebring is also available as a convertible, the 2008 Avenger is sold only as a sedan.

The Avenger comes with a choice of three engines: a 2.4-litre four-cylinder, a 2.7-litre “flexible fuel” V6 that accepts E85, both with four-speed automatic transmissions, and a 3.5-litre V6 with six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Trim lines are the SE, SXT and the R/T, which is also available in all-wheel drive.

The SE uses the 2.4-litre exclusively, and includes 16-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, cloth seats, six-CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers, cruise control, power mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, power locks with keyless entry, cooled beverage holder, tilt/telescopic steering column, 60/40 split folding rear seat, and side and curtain airbags.

The SXT uses the 2.4-litre that can be optioned to the 2.7-litre V6, and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, floor mats, YES Essentials stain-resistant upholstery, fold-flat front passenger seat, eight-way power driver’s seat, and six speakers. The SXT with V6 adds four-wheel disc brakes with ABS.

The R/T uses the 3.5-litre V6 and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, sport suspension, “firm-feel” steering, dual exhaust, heated mirrors, spoiler, automatic climate control, padded console armrest, illuminated sun visor mirrors, trip computer, leather-wrapped wheel, and heated leather seats.

The R/T AWD adds electronic stability control, traction control and touring suspension.

With similar styling to the Dodge Charger, the Avenger is a handsome vehicle, offering a roomy interior, even in the rear seat, an attractive if plain interior, and numerous options, including the company’s MyGig hard-drive-based entertainment system, rear-seat DVD, and heated and cooled cupholder. Both engines are good performers and handling is responsive, especially with the R/T’s “firm-feel” steering and sport suspension. On the down side, interior panel fit isn’t always up to that of its competitors, and anti-lock brakes must be added as an option to the base model.

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