Yesterday, I rented a Dodge Avenger because the Flex was offline. I get a rental car on overnight repairs, courtesy of Ford ESP. The dealer said, “you can get one from us, or from Enterprise.” I was like, “you, You! YOU! I’ll take a Mustang GT convertible, thanks very much.”
So, the dealer shuttle
craft dropped me off at Enterprise, rather than deal with my inevitable disappointment. No worries.
Out of all the counter people, I got the hot girl. Win! Then it was time to talk about cars.
Brittany: We have a white Avenger ready to go!
Me: Which Avenger would that be, exactly? Thor? Captain America? Cathy Gale at least?
Me: Nooooooooo! Do you have anything else?
Brittany: We have a minivan!
Me: An Avenger sounds nice.
This is the car that tea partiers point to as a reason not to bail out Chrysler. The styling is known as Dodge Caliber in drag. It’s supposed to
create demand for Enzyte evoke the Dodge Charger. In terms of flattened dog ear windows and the general lack of outward visibility, it’s a win. In terms of generating the same lust/fear response of a snarling Hemi faux cop car, it’s more metermaid than interceptor.
Visibility? That’s funny. Seating is like sitting on a sofa cushion on the floor. The outward view is about the same as in your house, while sitting on that sofa cushion. Ingress/egress works about as well, too.
On the bright side, you get an eye level view of the relentless and oppressive cascades of black plastic.
Gauges take a little getting used to. When the sun is head on, you can’t see the red markings. The first time I looked at the water temp, it was above the top white hashmark, but not to the H. There was no way to tell whether it was hot or just mediocre.
The gas gauge was comical. For the first 60 miles, it clung to the fiction that the tank was more than full. Over the next 20 miles, it dropped form megafull to 3/4. As an owner of a Flex and a 78 Lincoln, I am all too familiar with that precipitous drop; the hovering above full was completely alien.
Maybe this car is what we would all drive if the Soviets lasted and the USA folded up its tents and went to the ideological dark side in 1991. It’s bleak. There is fake stitching on the dash, just like a Lamborghini. You have to misadjust the we hate bargain shoppers urethane wheel to ever see it.
The console is an uninspired wasteland. The “it’s just like a 1980s Benz” shifter is a nice visual gimmick. However, the handling is jittery and there is no provision to sport shift even if you dared take curves above Xanax speed. A column shift and some anti claustrophobia open floor space would be sublime. Second choice would be a linear shifter and better storage. Anything with a sporty pretense is a waste on a typical Avenger buyer, and really kind of an unfillable promise to anyone stuck driving it.
Enjoy the view. This is your hell until trade-in time.
In four Words: The 200 is better