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Dodge's 2014 Avenger SXT Blacktop mimics the Charger sedan in appearance only

A trunk lip spoiler gives the Avenger a racy look for a compact RWD sedan
A trunk lip spoiler gives the Avenger a racy look for a compact RWD sedan
by Nick Hromiak

Based on the original Chrysler 200 sedan, Dodge’s 2014 Avenger SXT Blacktop is similar, but a sporty version of this front-drive sedan. It comes in SE, SXT and sportier R/T models.

Despite snowy weather during the week-long test, Dodge's Avenger SXT handled it surefootedly
by Nick Hromiak

While the Avenger copies the looks of the larger and hotter Dodge Charger sedan, there’s no comparison as it mainly maintains the Dodge family look.

The SXT Blacktop model offers a long list of optional equipment that isn’t on the bare bones SE. And the Blacktop package is merely cosmetic upgrades for a racy, sporty appearance along with optional 18-inch gloss black aluminum wheels. However, the Blacktop package can be had on the SE for an extra $595.

While the SE comes with a four-speed automatic transmission and 2.4L, 173-hp four-cylinder (166 lb/ft of torque) carrying EPA mileage estimates of 21 city, 29-highway mpg, the SXT is outfitted with a 6-speed automatic and more powerful 3.6L, 283-hp Pentastar V6 (260 lb/ft) boasting EPA mileage estimates of 19 city, 29-highway mpg.

Judging from the performance and economy of the V6 in the test car, it would appear the four banger would be an underachiever with similar mileage ratings that are below par for this class.

Avengers’ interior is nice but somewhat dated. The semi-bolstered, heated front seats are soft and comfy while the backs are less supportive but offer comfortable seating for two adults with sufficient leg and headroom for short statured adults.

HVAC controls are simple rotary dials while the gauges are easy to read at a glance.

The Avenger was optioned with the UConnect package that included a one-year free subscription to S-XM satellite radio, 40GB hard drive and 6.5-inch touchscreen complete with Garmin nav. The latter was quirky in that every time the engine was shut down and fired up again, the GPS has to be re-zoomed-in from its wide-angle view. It wouldn’t hold the zoom. That, plus the system did not have a rearview camera, especially important because wide “C” pillars block rear vis somewhat.

Trunk space is small (13.4 cubic feet) but can accommodate two medium roll-a-longs or two golf bags with the long clubs pulled and stacked atop the bag. Or, flip the 60/40 rear seatbacks and space almost doubles.

Despite its racy suffix, the Avenger SXT is not sporty. For those seeking more road feel, opt for the R/T but with the understanding that the ride becomes firmer with its tauter suspension. Otherwise the SXT is enjoyable to drive and ride in on optional 18-inch Goodyear Eagle tires. Its suspension soaks up most road imperfections with ease while handling is decent for a compact, almost midsize sedan.

The SXT was base priced at a reasonable $23,295 with a long list of standard and necessary features. Optional equipment like leather ($400), Blacktop package ($495), 3.6L V6 engine ($300), UConnect ($995) and delivery ($995) upped the bottom line to $26,480. For that buyers also get Chrysler’s 5 year/100K powertrain warranty, 3/36K basic limited warranty and 5/100K Roadside Assistance service.

Avenger also received the governments overall safety rating of four stars (out of five), five for frontal driver crash, three for passenger, three for front seat side crash, five for rear seat side crash and four for rollover. The Institute for Highway Safety followed with a “Good” rating.

To check out an Avenger, stop by Rothrock Motors at Route 22 and N. 15th Street in Allentown.

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