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Buying Used: ‘Below average’ Avenger’s price dropped dramatically

2009 Dodge Avenger.

Offered in three trim levels – SE, SXT, and R/T – the 2009 Dodge Avenger was available with either a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-litre V-6. The four, developing 173 horsepower, was the base engine and could be had with all models. The V-6, meanwhile, developed 235 horsepower.

All things considered, the V-6 engine was the way to go. Compared to rivals such as the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, the four-banger was underpowered, loud, and coarse. Originally designed as a "world engine" five years before, it was also utilized by Mitsubishi and Hyundai in some of their models, and even back in 2009, it was time for a replacement. On the plus side, it did return reasonable fuel economy, and would run on E85 ethanol fuel – if you could find it.

Two transmissions were available, both automatics: a four-speed or a six-speed, depending upon engine choice. Again, the Avenger was a short of the mark here, as most of the competition featured five-speed autoboxes as standard issue.

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That said, it had surprisingly decent handling – to a point. The wheezy four-banger prevented the Avenger from doing anything really interesting, but on the highway and through the turns, it was stable, with neutral handling. Suspension duties were handled by MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement with coil springs in back. Brakes were front disc/rear drum, with optional four-wheel discs and ABS as standard equipment. Traction control, vehicle stability and brake assist were optional.

Ease of entry and exit was excellent. In fact, this was one of the Avenger's strong points. Like its bigger brother, the 300, the Avenger featured generously sized doors and had a surprising amount of headroom. When you got into it, you stepped down and, although it may not have been as sophisticated as other models in this segment, the Avenger gave up nothing in terms of comfort. Decent trunk room as well; 380 litres, which was less than the Chevrolet Malibu, but almost the same as the Honda Accord.

Standard equipment on the middle-of-the-range SXT included air conditioning, power door locks, a centre console, cruise control, engine block heater and a slick little extra in the form of a "chill zone," a storage area for beverages and what-not located over the glove box.

The 2010 edition of the Avenger was pretty much identical to the '09, and equipment level was essentially the same for both years. It received a major overhaul in 2011.

Transport Canada has three safety recalls for this edition of the Avenger. The first concerns a possibly flawed power control module that could affect fuel pump performance and result in random engine stalling. The remaining two affect the 2010 model, and concern a potentially leaky power steering pump supply hose and possibly malfunctioning brakes, which could fail due to an improperly connected "brake booster input rod."

To these we can add a recall from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that affects the fuel gauge on those models equipped with the four-cylinder engine. It can "overstate" the amount of fuel left in the tank.

NHTSA also has five technical service bulletins on file for the 2009 Avenger. One concerns possibly loose bolts on the rear trunk deck lid, another has to do with a potentially incorrect positive crankcase ventilation valve, while the remaining three are warranty-related issues.

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Consumer Reports is not a fan, saying "there are better family sedans available." No data is available for '09 with C.R., but the '08 model received a "worse than average" used-car prediction. Some comments from owners: "Has a comfortable ride on trips," "We found Consumer Reports road test completely wrong about the Avenger" and "Trunk a little smallish but seat does fold down."

Market research firm J.D. Power is equally unenthusiastic, and the best it can muster for the '09 Avenger is a "better than most" rating for powertrain design. Otherwise, it's average or below in most other areas. It gets a below-average grade for overall quality.

Pretty dramatic price drop here, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to the mid-teens for this one. The V-6s is fetching slightly more than the four-cylinder models, and there's a wide disparity between the base SE and the top-of-the-range R/T.

Tech specs

2009 Dodge Avenger

Original Base Price: $21,995; Black Book: $10,500-$15,025; Red Book: $8,325-$10,900

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Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 3.5-litre V-6

Horsepower/Torque: 173 hp/166 lb-ft for four; 235 hp/232 lb-ft for six

Transmission: Four- and six-speed automatic

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 9.7 city/6.6 highway; (four-cylinder with four-speed automatic); regular gas

Alternatives:Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Mitsubishi Galant, Saturn Aura, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Magentis, Mazda6, Toyota Camry


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