With its boxy exterior, the 2008 Avenger has a definite Dodge feel to it. In Dodges past, I've not meshed with the boxy theme, but I must say that it worked nicely in the Avenger. I'm the kind of person who almost prefers a dippy-looking car to something bland because at least the dippy-looking car makes a statement. The Avenger makes a statement. It isn't dippy; it's sharp and aggressive.

However, I was surprised by my test car's $30,455 price tag. Let me get straight to the point - it just didn't seem like it was worth that much money. I know, I know; it's not unusual to spend $30K on a midsize sedan, especially if you want some niceties thrown in such as leather seats and a navigation system. My test car was equipped with leather-trimmed seats and the MyGig Multimedia Infotainment System with navigation. Cha-ching! Without some of those niceties, the 2008 Avenger R/T starts at $26,220, while a lesser-equipped four-cylinder goes for $19,640.

The 2008 Dodge Avenger is very muscle car-y, with some nice, angled pecs ... er ... fenders and a squared-off trunk. As with other Dodges, the Avenger has the trademark grille, which looks very handsome and assertive. If the Avenger were a man, it'd be an in-charge kind of guy that said, "Hey baby, we're goin' on a date!" No psychic readings necessary here, ladies.

The Avenger was happiest when it was going fast on straightaways. I felt like the Avenger was a little top-heavy in the turns, but taking off from a red light was pure pleasure. A nice rumble from under the hood let everyone know that I wasn't messing around, and it helped that I got to 40 mph faster than any other car. Of course, I was only getting 12-18 mpg in the city doing it.

The Avenger doesn't have a keyhole on the trunklid, which is one of my pet peeves. You have to use your key fob or hit the switch in the cabin to open the trunk. As long as I'm getting straight to the point, I hate that.

The kids liked the Torred paint job; it was just understated enough not to get looks from every single person on the planet. Seriously, I don't like to be noticed every time I go out in my sweats with my hair askew in a clip.


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times

The Avenger's interior was quite nice, and it came with lots of fun extras. The Avenger has a Chill Zone, which is a cooled compartment above the glove box meant to keep drinks cold - when the car's on, that is. I also had heated/cooled cupholders in the Avenger. This is one of those features that sounds ridiculous on paper, but in real life just charms you. The dash was tight, all the lines fit, and the interior felt fresh and uncluttered.

In addition to all these features, I also loved the backseat. It's a durable interior that's masculine but comfortable. There was plenty of room for the kids and easy-to-find Latch connectors. And you know what? The seats were clad in YES Essentials, a odor- and stain-resistant fabric that I tested with my son awhile back. No amount of Cheetos grime clung to it; spills really did just roll off the fabric. Nice.

The Avenger has a good-sized trunk that's tall and deep. Boxes of diapers, rejoice; no cramming or shifting to get them in there. Strollers would easily fit into this trunk.

The Avenger had Chrysler's MyGig Multimedia Infotainment System, which always drives me crazy. I hate MyGig because there's nothing about it that's intuitive. Unlike other systems, I don't retain any memory of how to use it, and I have to relearn the darn thing every time I test a Dodge or Chrysler car. It's distracting and inconvenient; I mean, as long as I'm getting straight to the point...

My lasting impression of the interior is that it was resilient and better-put-together than I expected. I didn't worry about spills or scuffs (the light-colored interior helped with that). The seats were comfortable and the cupholders were in easy-to-use positions.


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore

There are quite a few standard safety features on the Avenger: multistage front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, and side curtain front and rear airbags. Pardon the airbag rundown, but remember, we're not pussyfooting around here.

In addition to all those airbags, the Avenger has height-adjustable seat belts, which we at MotherProof.com adore. Antilock brakes, traction control and stability control are also standard, which makes me smile and feel better about that price tag I mentioned earlier.

I felt safe and confident driving the Avenger. It felt very solid, especially the doors, which closed with a satisfying heavy thump.


In Diapers: Child-safety seats would fit fine as long as you and/or your passenger aren't really tall.

In School: It handled the kids like a champ.

Teens: It's nice to ride in and solid to drive.