Chrysler has chosen vastly different fates for its Sebring and the Dodge Avenger, despite the two essentially being identical vehicles. While the Sebring underwent a complete personality makeover for 2011 and emerged with new sheetmetal and a new nameplate to match, the Avenger was left to soldier on with more conservative tweaks. The Dodge version of Chrysler’s midsize sedan still wears the same basic body lines as before, masking over the significant adjustments to the vehicle’s interior, drivetrain and suspension. While theChrysler 200 may be stealing (okay, borrowing) the show, the 2011 Avenger is no less improved, at least when equipped with the company’s new 3.6-liter V6 engine.
With 283 horsepower and respectable fuel economy, the new six-cylinder turns the Avenger into a vehicle that no longer takes its driving cues from capital punishment, though lower-rung trim levels don’t fare as well. Buyers who opt for the old 2.4-liter four-cylinder will be met with visions from the vehicle’s less-than-award-winning past, including plenty of engine vibration and fuel economy that’s not on par with new hardware coming out from the competition. All this begs the question: Is there room for both the Dodge Avenger and the Chrysler 200 under the new company tent?