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So I went to my local Dodge Dealer today...


Intrepidation

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Today I was busy running errands, and the last on my list was to stop at the parts store for a tail light bulb for the Intrepid. NAPA closes early apparently (at 5pm). I sit in the parking lot and think what I should do now..and I decide I'll take a ride to Tom Manzi Dodge to ask about the blown lights on my temp gauge and part of my tach. To my disappointment, the parts and service area was also closed (at 5). I was kinda bummed, but I noticed that the showroom was still open. I decided to go in check it out. A salesman greeted me (he had kinda long hair), and asked if he could help me with anything. I told him (part of) why I came, and he said to come back tomorrow and they service dept. would help me. When I was coming into the dealership I saw a black Avenger R/T sitting on the lot, and I asked him if I could take a look at it. He happily said yes and handed me the keys and asked me to lock it up when I was done.

First Impressions

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The first thing I notice is that the key and the fob are one and the same (as opposed to my key and fob being separate things). It's not that pretty but it's a key so who cares. I walk out to the Avenger and unlock it and sit inside.

Seats

This model has the 3.5L (as I figured), leather, 18-inch wheels, spoiler, but curiously not the NAV system and (thankfully) no rear-seat DVD. Interior is 2-tone with black upp and white-ish/light gray lower color scheme. The seats were the white-ish color with black inserts, which look pretty sharp. The seats were a bit firm but surprisingly very comfortable. The back seat is even comfortable. Even with the driver's seat all the way back, and me being 6'1", it didn't feel uncomfortable (although moving the seat forward just a bit stopped my legs from touching the seat-back.

Exterior Design

In black, with the 18-inch wheels and the spoiler, the Avenger looks very good. It's not graceful or elegant like the Aura, but rather it has an aggressively handsome look no other car in the segment has.

Dodge continues to by one of the best (I think) at designing rear ends that don't look awkward, frumpy or fat. (You know, like the last gen Altima).

The headlights attractive in a simple way...they're not intricate like some headlights but they look good nonetheless. I actually prefer this front end to that of the Charger's (expect in SRT form). The kick in the beltline is distinctive, and while some day it just copies off the Charger...I say "why not?" It's a design element no car in the midsize segment has and an element only the Charger, upcoming Challenger, and upcoming Camaro share. Not a bad styling element to use when you consider the powerful vehicles it borrows them from.

The roof, which has been a point of criticism (myself included), doesn't have the awkwardness it does in photos. In person it looks fine.

Interior Design

The interior design is very nice, and looks better than the Aura IMO. I prefer the more symmetrical look to the idiotic way the Aura's center stack flows into a console area that's off center. I was pleasantly surprised/relieved to find that the Chill-Zone in this was much better than the that of the Caliber. Unlike the Caliber's, which just pops up and, in the case of teh one at the auto show at least, only stays open part way, this on opens with the press of a button and opens smoothly and all the way, and stays up. It offers good resistance to being pushed down. Same goes for the lower glovebox, which opened smoothly (although a bit slowly), instead of just flopping down.

As said before, the dash design is very attractive IMO, and I especially like how the upper dash flows down and wraps around the shifter. It's much better than that of the Sebring's shifter, which seems just tacked onto the console. The steering wheel is also nice. It's small and think and comfortable to hold. The leather isn't the softest but it's far better than the horrid "leather" wrapped steering wheel I last held, which was in a last-gen Malibu. It's black with white upper portion and chrome trim on the center part...it's a very nice design.

The gauge cluster is a lot more attractive in person than in the photos, and the gauges themselves are sporty and nice to look at. Meanwhile, the HVAC controls were textured in rubber and trimmed with chrome rings. There were simple, and attractive. The stereo had great sound quality, a nice interface, and relatively simple controls.

I really liked the express up and down front driver and passenger windows. While they aren't needed (just like power windows themselves aren't needed), it's a great convenience to have them go back with one touch, especially the driver's side. I wish the Intrepid had express up..at least on the driver's side.

Materials and Build Quality.

As I said, the seats and the steering wheel are made with firm but surprisingly comfortable leather. The center armrest is covered in very soft leather (or vinyl) and is extremely comfortable to rest my arm on (in fact I like it better than the material that covers the Intrepid's). The upper and lower dash are made of hard plastic, but well textured I think. The A-pillars, and center stack are textured in a material that is similar to what the A-pillar of the Camry is textured. It's not the best texture to touch, but it looks OK. What surprised me is that while the door panels are mostly hard plastic, their armrest are in fact, made with textured soft plastic. Again, the texturing is not the greatest, and not as nice as the padded armrests in my car...but they aren't bad IMO, and they are soft, which more than I can say for the Aura's. The materials themselves seemed pretty solid. The A-pillar had a little give to it...but nowhere near as bad as say...that Equinox I sat in. It wasn't any worse than the Camry's. The only other area where there was any real flex was the center console...but it wasn't bad. I had to put decent force to move it, and it only moved about a centimeter.

Build quality was pretty good as well. Exterior panels lined up perfectly with very small gaps in between. The interior was well assembled with the exception of a misaligned panel where the driver's side of the center console meets the dash, and a little bit misaligned on the other side (though not as much). Other than that everything fit together perfectly.

Power...?

With key in hand I decided to fire the Avenger up. It has a nice sound, with a bit of a rumble. All I did was let it idle...I didn't rev it...I didn't know if I should.

--

I locked the car up (it has a very loud horn), and returned to the showroom. I chatted with the salesman about the car. He asked me what I thought of it and I said I liked it a lot...I noted that the armrests on teh doors could have been textured better, but the car has a whole is so much better than the Stratus it replaces (he agreed with me on both counts). I asked them if they've had many Avenger's on the lot yet. He said yes, but they've sold the other ones that they had. We talked about the drivetrain abit, and how the SXT could be had for a fair bit cheaper, although with a 4-banger or the 2.7L. I said, "Yes, but the 3.5 is the one to get...especially with the 6-speed and sportier suspension." He agreed but also noted how a lot of people aren't as concerned with all-out performance...it just depends on your priorities.

Then we got to talking about my car. When I told him it had 177K miles on it with the 2.7L he was practically blown away. He said he had an Intrepid like mine that he sold after his heart attack...he had some trouble selling it because it had the 2.7L and people were scared of it. He made a point that not all of the 2.7Ls will fail like they've been known to, and my car is a case in point. He also commented on how nice it looked.

He asked where I got it from and I told him an auction. He asked if I did things like "look at the interior and exterior and (jokingly) smelled the interior). I said yeah, but I also checked for oil leaks, engine ticks and knocks, as well as how the transmission shifted. He was impressed and was like "You know your stuff, you're not stupid." We got into talking about how the auction works, since he'd never been to one and was curious. We talked until he got a phone call from his physician. He told me if I wanted to test drive something I could come buy tomorrow and he'd set me up, and to call or just stop buy the service department for the gauge lights.

So that was my trip o the dealer. I left feeling very happy...I love the people there. They're always friendly and they're never pushy or just there to get a sale. I'll probably get my oil changed there knowing how well they treat people. Tomorrow if all goes well I'll get to test the Avenger...so I'll have some driving impressions. Maybe if I'm lucky they'll let me test a Charger too... :scratchchin::smilewide:

Sorry for the typos!

Oh yeah, and I'm using the Aura as comparison cuz I spent the most time in it of all the current midsizers...I wanna drive it next. (need to find a Saturn dealer nearby).

Edited by Dodgefan
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53 views and not a single post...

I'm still reading it...wait.

EDIT: Well, you recently seemed biased...you know, you WANT to love the Dodge.

It's a very competitive segment as we all know, but the Avenger seems to be one of those cars that just satisfies (not even that for some people) while there is so many other cars in the segment that are absolutely near perfect. Dodge needs to have a VERY strong offering to take away Camry, Accord, and, hopefully, 2008 Malibu/Aura buyers. I don't think they have accomplished that with this car...

I can say, however, that I like the Avenger better than the Sebring (styling-wise).

Edited by vrazzhledazzle
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After I looked at and sat in an Avenger, I walked away convinced that the Accord still sets the gold standard in family sedans. I will grant the Avenger that it is a decent looking vehicle, other than the messy B-pillar and rear doors. The mini-Charger styling works for the most part. I just don't see much demand for this car or the Sebring when there are betters cars around.

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I'm still reading it...wait.

EDIT: Well, you recently seemed biased...you know, you WANT to love the Dodge.

It's a very competitive segment as we all know, but the Avenger seems to be one of those cars that just satisfies (not even that for some people) while there is so many other cars in the segment that are absolutely near perfect. Dodge needs to have a VERY strong offering to take away Camry, Accord, and, hopefully, 2008 Malibu/Aura buyers. I don't think they have accomplished that with this car...

I can say, however, that I like the Avenger better than the Sebring (styling-wise).

I would say the only vehicle that is near perfect in this segment is the Accord . I would say next in line is the Fusion, but it is down on power (though it's not that bad..ditto for the Millan). The Mazda6 is also very good, though a bit of a tight fit. The Camry has build quality issues. Same with the Aura (as well as some materials). The Sonata is ergonomically flawed...the G6 is cheap (and IMO too Japanese looking) and only recently got a competitive powertrain, the current Malibu is a piece of ugly and cheap crap that's good for fleets and bargain hunters and that's about it. The NG Malibu isn't out yet, the Sebring is ugly (I think) and has poor suspension tuning, and the Optima is grossly underpowered.

I dunno if I overlooked anything...as for being bias...do you think if I was totally bias do you think I would point out the flaws? Do you think I'd call the Sebring ugly and poorly tuned? (I would not buy one). I would not buy an Avenger without the 3.5L, the other models lack the suspension tuning I'd want and the power. However, just like how people for some strange reason buy Malibus, people will buy the lower level Avengers. I've said this before: It's not the class leader but it's far better than the Stratus it replaces, has unique style and features, and it at least competitive in this segment. There is no car that is perfect.

Edited by Dodgefan
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Good effort on the write up. A few points I agree with you, especially about the interior. I haven't sat it one yet(Dallas auto show THIS week!) but stylistically it looks better than the aura's i think. Material wise I can't say but I can tell you that gray scheme looks so disappointing. Also, I think all Avengers should have the black head light treatment. Otherwise I can't even imagine purchasing a non-R/T Avenger as the clear headlamps look totally down-market when paired with the crappily designed steel wheels of the base model.

I also having seen the Sebring in the flesh, think the Avenger is much better looking. The Sebring is just plain WEIRD. The side "character line" that runs across it is horrible and the taillights don't have any continuity with each other. They just line up at odd places and call it a day. That Sebring really looks Korean from a distance, like a late 90s hyundai sonata or something.

The Avenger just needed more funds behind its back...it probably would've been a competitor had it not suffered from Dodge's financial position.

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Good effort on the write up. A few points I agree with you, especially about the interior. I haven't sat it one yet(Dallas auto show THIS week!) but stylistically it looks better than the aura's i think. Material wise I can't say but I can tell you that gray scheme looks so disappointing. Also, I think all Avengers should have the black head light treatment. Otherwise I can't even imagine purchasing a non-R/T Avenger as the clear headlamps look totally down-market when paired with the crappily designed steel wheels of the base model.

I also having seen the Sebring in the flesh, think the Avenger is much better looking. The Sebring is just plain WEIRD. The side "character line" that runs across it is horrible and the taillights don't have any continuity with each other. They just line up at odd places and call it a day. That Sebring really looks Korean from a distance, like a late 90s hyundai sonata or something.

The Avenger just needed more funds behind its back...it probably would've been a competitor had it not suffered from Dodge's financial position.

I'd have to check to be sure but doesn't the Avenger get black/tan as an interior color scheme option. I agree...I would not get a non-R/T model...I also agree about the headlamps. I think all the Avenger needs are some better materials...inside...but I personally could live with them...oh and make the sport suspension optional across the board. GM is very smart for offering the 6-speed as an option with the 4-banger in the NG Malibu...too bad DCX didn't think of the same thing.

The Sebring is a mess...I really just don't like it...I think a mini-300C styling would have worked better.

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Hm well I was looking at the interior photos off the dodge website. I guess its the black interior, but the lighting conditions make it look really grey and 04 Malibuesqe ugly.

Well it took some work but I finally snagged a pic of the black/tan interior...it's not the best (not close-up) but at least I found it and at least they offer it.

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Edited by Dodgefan
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i sat in the avenger at the auto show the other day.

i have also driven a new sebring.

neither convinces me that this will be any sort of player. i don't need to detail the reasons.

also, the aura has a FAR nicer interior and exterior and powertrain, even though the Avenger's dash is laid out nicely.. The Avenger interior is typical 'new Dodge' (interpret that how you want).

the fusion is nicer as well. I would take a Buick LaCrosse over this even. The current but old Grand Prix trumps this thing big time.

Dodge went from volume seller to niche manufacturer in the span of about 2-3 years. Where they used to sell many intrepids to satisfy the mainstream FWD sedan family type market, they now offer the very nichey Avenger.

in summation, it would make sense to me to even buy a Camry over this car....unless of course you love Dodge or are seriously drawn to the unique style of this vehicle.

All just my opinion, of course.

Edited by regfootball
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i sat in the avenger at the auto show the other day.

i have also driven a new sebring.

neither convinces me that this will be any sort of player. i don't need to detail the reasons.

also, the aura has a FAR nicer interior and exterior and powertrain, even though the Avenger's dash is laid out nicely.. The Avenger interior is typical 'new Dodge' (interpret that how you want).

the fusion is nicer as well. I would take a Buick LaCrosse over this even. The current but old Grand Prix trumps this thing big time.

Dodge went from volume seller to niche manufacturer in the span of about 2-3 years. Where they used to sell many Intrepids to satisfy the mainstream FWD sedan family type market, they now offer the very nichey Avenger.

in summation, it would make sense to me to even buy a Camry over this car....unless of course you love Dodge or are seriously drawn to the unique style of this vehicle.

All just my opinion, of course.

I sat in the Aura too...the interior doesn't impress me with it's shoddy build quality, cheap door panels and (the design, which is just not for me). It's still a better car overall, but IMO not by leaps and bounds.

The Fusion's got a better interior than almost all of the midsize players...especially the Aura. I wouldn't take the LaCrosse...it's on an old platform with timid handling and a $h!ty powertrain (at least you can get a 6-speed and sport suspension in the Avenger). The LaCrosse looked dated when it debuted.

To each his own of course.

Edited by Dodgefan
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Dodge went from volume seller to niche manufacturer in the span of about 2-3 years. Where they used to sell many intrepids to satisfy the mainstream FWD sedan family type market, they now offer the very nichey Avenger.

The Avenger is the replacement to the Stratus, not the Intrepid. The Intrepid replacement is the Charger.....which is selling very well. That Stratus was never a huge seller either. The Asians have this market locked for now. The Avenger is trying to compete on styling and price. They could have spent a whole bunch more money on the interior, charged alot more for the car, and people would still buy Camcords over it, due to perceptions and Consumers Reports. Why should they waste their money??

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The Avenger is the replacement to the Stratus, not the Intrepid. The Intrepid replacement is the Charger.....which is selling very well. That Stratus was never a huge seller either. The Asians have this market locked for now. The Avenger is trying to compete on styling and price. They could have spent a whole bunch more money on the interior, charged alot more for the car, and people would still buy Camcords over it, due to perceptions and Consumers Reports. Why should they waste their money??

Because maybe that cheaping out is why they have the image they have? The American companies simply can not compete on cost.
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The Avenger is the replacement to the Stratus, not the Intrepid. The Intrepid replacement is the Charger.....which is selling very well. That Stratus was never a huge seller either. The Asians have this market locked for now. The Avenger is trying to compete on styling and price. They could have spent a whole bunch more money on the interior, charged alot more for the car, and people would still buy Camcords over it, due to perceptions and Consumers Reports. Why should they waste their money??

If people are still going to buy Camcords over it then why is Dodge "wasting their money" building the Avenger at all? Might as well go a totally different route as Pontiac is most likely doing (RWD G6). The problem with trying to sell a product based on price is that that means you're not putting your best foot forward. If you still fail, at least you gave it your best shot, and you can't be looked down upon if your product just doesn't happen to be selling as well as the other products in its segment. I think there are more sales to be had by building a stylish Camry than a cheap, sporty stylish Camry.

i sat in the avenger at the auto show the other day.

i have also driven a new sebring.

neither convinces me that this will be any sort of player. i don't need to detail the reasons.

also, the aura has a FAR nicer interior and exterior and powertrain, even though the Avenger's dash is laid out nicely.. The Avenger interior is typical 'new Dodge' (interpret that how you want).

the fusion is nicer as well. I would take a Buick LaCrosse over this even. The current but old Grand Prix trumps this thing big time.

Dodge went from volume seller to niche manufacturer in the span of about 2-3 years. Where they used to sell many intrepids to satisfy the mainstream FWD sedan family type market, they now offer the very nichey Avenger.

in summation, it would make sense to me to even buy a Camry over this car....unless of course you love Dodge or are seriously drawn to the unique style of this vehicle.

All just my opinion, of course.

Agreed on all accounts.

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i sat in the avenger at the auto show the other day.

i have also driven a new sebring.

neither convinces me that this will be any sort of player. i don't need to detail the reasons.

also, the aura has a FAR nicer interior and exterior and powertrain, even though the Avenger's dash is laid out nicely.. The Avenger interior is typical 'new Dodge' (interpret that how you want).

the fusion is nicer as well. I would take a Buick LaCrosse over this even. The current but old Grand Prix trumps this thing big time.

Dodge went from volume seller to niche manufacturer in the span of about 2-3 years. Where they used to sell many intrepids to satisfy the mainstream FWD sedan family type market, they now offer the very nichey Avenger.

in summation, it would make sense to me to even buy a Camry over this car....unless of course you love Dodge or are seriously drawn to the unique style of this vehicle.

All just my opinion, of course.

I would have to agree.

I wouldn't take the LaCrosse...it's on an old platform with timid handling and a $h!ty powertrain (at least you can get a 6-speed and sport suspension in the Avenger). The LaCrosse looked dated when it debuted.

Do something for me, please. Test drive a LaCrosse CXS. While it's not the greatest midsizer there ever was, the CXS, with the HF V6 is actually a nice car for what it is. It's not trying to be sporty. The entire feel of the car is soft, but controlling. It's also not the nicest styled car out there, but neither is the Avenger.
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Sorry Dodgefan but your initial post is dripping with bias...I've tried to keep my mouth shut, but I've looked at tons of photos of the Avenger and while it looks pretty sweet at certain angles to overall effect is not pleasing. And the interior....please :lol2:

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I hated the Sebring but I liked the Avenger more-or-less. The exterior styling for the most part works, but this car is not better than Aura or Fusion-I have not been in a Camry or Accord, etc. in the past year, and didn't get to sit in them at the Auto Show either. Can someone tell me what the Chrysler Interior Designers are thinking though? The interior is a total sea of boring Gray (its not even Slate Grey like they claim-its just a bunch of boring cool and warm grays), the dashboards look almost as fresh as a K-Car's or my old 1982 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue (they're all squarish-but the plastic didn't feel overly cheap), and especially, the worst part, front AND back-those horrible, abomination headrests! They're all tilted forward, they are fixed (yes, in back too, but they're fake cloth, built into the seat). WHY?!!!???? They are so uncomfortable! The engine selections need to improve, and the SE needs aluminum wheels as optional, as do all Dodge SE trims. But the Avenger adds spunk that sorely lacks in this class.

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I would have to agree.

Do something for me, please. Test drive a LaCrosse CXS. While it's not the greatest midsizer there ever was, the CXS, with the HF V6 is actually a nice car for what it is. It's not trying to be sporty. The entire feel of the car is soft, but controlling. It's also not the nicest styled car out there, but neither is the Avenger.

Maybe I will, test driving is fun. Mushy handling is not for me though :P

I want to drive an Aura first though if you don't mind ^_^

Sorry Dodgefan but your initial post is dripping with bias...I've tried to keep my mouth shut, but I've looked at tons of photos of the Avenger and while it looks pretty sweet at certain angles to overall effect is not pleasing. And the interior....please :lol2:

If it were "dripping with bias", once again, do you think I'd point flaws out of the interior? Do you think I would put down the Sebring? If it were "D1PP1ING W1TH B14S!1!" I think I would have said it's the greatest interior ever or some BS like that, which obviously, it's not. It's fast, it handles good, it's sporty (in R/T trim at least). I like the looks of the car, I like the interior design , and I could live withe the materials, even though they aren't the best (god knows we've lived with low-rent interiors form Ford, GM, and Chrysler for years yet we still bought them) so if it helps you sleep at night, you can call that bias (or an opinion if you'd like to be factual). If I were bias I'd never take shots at Chrysler, yet I do. So...potato.

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I hated the Sebring but I liked the Avenger more-or-less. The exterior styling for the most part works, but this car is not better than Aura or Fusion-I have not been in a Camry or Accord, etc. in the past year, and didn't get to sit in them at the Auto Show either. Can someone tell me what the Chrysler Interior Designers are thinking though? The interior is a total sea of boring Gray (its not even Slate Grey like they claim-its just a bunch of boring cool and warm grays), the dashboards look almost as fresh as a K-Car's or my old 1982 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue (they're all squarish-but the plastic didn't feel overly cheap), and especially, the worst part, front AND back-those horrible, abomination headrests! They're all tilted forward, they are fixed (yes, in back too, but they're fake cloth, built into the seat). WHY?!!!???? They are so uncomfortable! The engine selections need to improve, and the SE needs aluminum wheels as optional, as do all Dodge SE trims. But the Avenger adds spunk that sorely lacks in this class.

chrysler interiors now are like my old boss (architect). He only knew how to design anything with gray colors. his favorite colors were white, cool gray, and warm gray. his personality had about as much depth as that also.

If chrylser simply experimented with some color and nicer surfaces, their interiors wouldn't look so terrible. Like i said, the dash design of the sebring itself is not bad.

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