The pioneering Dodge brothers, Horace and John, never saw anything like it.

But if they had been able to envision the 1995 Dodge Avenger when they founded Dodge, this all-new car certainly would have received their approval.

The Avenger in base or ES trim levels is the latest sports-oriented offering from Dodge Division of Chrysler Corp. The compact coupe offers a multitude of features.

This car obviously wasn't designed to function on the same level as the Dodge Viper. Rather, it offers a balance of sports design, interior room, comfort and convenience -- and spirited driving.

That's a rather tall order for a package that also is affordable. But as a new vehicle, the Avenger has been designed to appeal to a new set of customers.

Joe Caddell, general manager of the small-car platform team which created the Avenger, felt a sizable number of buyers want roominess and comfort without giving up the sports-car image. He expects the Avenger to offer a choice not available in other cars.

"I'm expecting to get the first ones sometime in October," said Vince Freeman, new-car sales manager for Gene Beltz Shadeland Dodge. "October 1 is our new-car announcement date, and they'll be along shortly after that."

$The car's aerodynamic styling aims to achieve a minimum coefficient of air drag, minimum noise from air turbulence over the body at speed and maximum fuel efficiency.

This last is a virtual lock for the Avenger, as the two engine choices are small. Offered is a dual-overhead-cam 16-valve four- cylinder developing 140 horsepower. The second engine, standard in the ES model, is a 2.5-liter, 24-valve V6 rated at 155 horsepower.

The more interesting feature about this V6 is that while it has four valves per cylinder like the four-cylinder motor, it utilizes a single overhead cam (per bank) rather than the 2.0-liter in-line 4's dual overhead cams.

Exterior styling follows the low frontal area and steeply raked windshield theme reminiscent of Chrysler's cabin-forward design for its sedans. Yet the overall height of 53 inches is a tenth of an inch under that of the 1994 Dodge Shadow four-door hatchback, and 2.3 inches less than the cabin-forward Dodge Intrepid.

A product of Chrysler Design, the studio that produced the Dodge Viper, the Avenger carries recognizable Dodge cues. These include the signature Dodge front end, Stealth-like rear lamps and a hint of the Viper in the Avenger's aggressive road stance.

It's a pretty sharp- looking coupe," Freeman said. "It's the first sports car we've had since the Daytona."

Dodge's marketing people say buyers of the Avenger will be single individuals or couples without children. It isn't meant to transport dad, mom, a flock of kids and a large dog.

As is virtually standard in small coupes, the driver and front-seat passenger get more room than those in the rear. The front-seat legroom of 43.3 inches and headroom of 39.1 inches equal and sometimes exceed those in some midsized sedans.

However , things drop off in the back.

Here, legroom is 35 inches and headroom is 36.5 inches. While Dodge marketing may say the car is going to better fit couples without children than those with, the rear seats are going to be more comfortable for smaller passengers than full-sized adults.

In base four-cylinder form, I'd say the car's performance characteristics will lie more in handling than in speed. It weighs more than 2,800 pounds, a touch heavy for 140 horses to demonstrate drag-racing potential.

In ES form, however, the V6 will quicken the pace a bit.

Dodge dealers haven't received pricing schedules, but Freeman speculates that window stickers will range from about $14,000 to around $20,000 for a loaded ES.

"It's not meant to be a replacement for the Daytona," he said. "It's much more advanced, and will appeal to a broader range of driving enthusiasts."

1995 Dodge Avenger Base price: $14,000 (estimated).Type: Front-engine, front-drive, four-passenger s ports coupe.Engine: 2.0 liters, DOHC in- line 4, 16 valves, fuel-injected, 140 horsepower, 130 foot-pounds of torque.Transmission: Five-speed manual.Mileage: Not available.Wheelbase: 103.7 inches.Length: 187.2 inches.Width: 68.5 inches.Height: 53.0 inches.Curb weight: 2,822 pounds.Options: Air conditioning, four-speed automatic, preferred equipment power package, Infinity stereo system, anti-lock brakes, power driver's seat, security alarm system.