If it looks like the midsize Avenger bears a resemblance to the its performance-oriented Charger stablemate, the styling cues were intentional.

Entering its second year of production, the five-passenger, Avenger is available in front- or all-wheel drive configurations enters the 2009 model year by offering a lot of features with a strong emphasis on safety and affordability.

With a base price starting below $20,000, the Avenger is available in three trim lines — SE, SXT and R/T. For the ‘09 model year, Avenger buyers also have their choice of three available engines.

The base powerplant for Avenger SE and SXT models features Chrysler’s 2.4-liter I-4 World Engine, generating 173 horsepower and 166 lbs.-ft. torque). Mated to four-speed automatic transmission and requiring regular unleaded gasoline, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway.

Avenger SXT buyers have the option of 2.7-liter Flex Fuel V-6 engine, capable of running on either unleaded gasoline (any grade) or E85 ethanol. Generating 186 horsepower and 191 lbs.-ft. torque, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway.

The performance-oriented Avenger R/T is powered by a 3.5-liter High Output V-6 engine generating 235 horsepower and 232 lbs.-ft. torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 16 mpg city, 27 mpg highway.

For this review a 2009 Avenger SE was driven during a one-week test period.

While far from what I would call the top contender in the highly competitive midsize sedan segment, I do feel the Avenger provides a lot of a bang for the buck.

The interior is roomy and comfortable while the controls are ergonomic and easy for the driver to use and see.

I did find the engine noise in base SE, used in this review, a bit distracting — especially when comparing to other models in the segment.

While a bit noisy, I have absolutely no complaints with performance. My test Avenger, equipped with Chrysler’s World Engine, is one peppy car.

I was also impressed with the list of standard safety features, which include dual front airbags, side-curtain airbags, front seat-mounted thorax airbags, remote keyless entry, intermittent wipers, LATCH child seat anchors, security alarm and tire pressure monitoring system. Buyers can also opt for electronic stability program with traction control, as well as anti-lock brakes, both of which are optional.

Standard equipment includes power locks, mirrors and windows, cruise control, illuminated entry, air conditioning, premium audio system with Sirius Satellite Radio, instrument panel with Chill Zone refrigerated bin, tilt and telescoping steering column, outside temperature display and electroluminescent instrument cluster, to name but a few.

There are also numerous other features available on the SXT and R/T trim lines.

As I mentioned before, a lot of bang for the buck — especially when you factor in the 30 mpg highway fuel rating. For those in the market for a midsize sedan, the 2009 Dodge Avenger is worthy of a test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association.

Comments may be sent to Neal at neal.white@wninews.com.

Nuts and Bolts

MODEL:

2009 Dodge Avenger

5-seat midsize sedan 

Front- or all-wheel drive

Trim packages:

SE, SXT, R/T

PRICE RANGE:

$20,000-$25,000

ENGINE:

2.4-L I-4 (173 hp/166 T)

2.7-L FF V-6 (186 hp/191 T)

3.5-L V-6 (235 hp/232 T)

TRANSMISSION:

4-speed automatic

6-speed automatic

EPA: 21/19/16 mpg city, 30/27/27 mpg highway (2.4/2.7/3.5)

FUEL: Regular unleaded (Flex Fuel V-6 may also use E85 ethanol)

SUSPENSION:  Independent MacPherson struts, coil spring over gas-charged shocks, stabilizer bar with isolated suspension cradle (front); multi-link independent with coil springs, link-type stabilizer bar, gas-charged shocks and isolated rear suspension cradle (rear).

TRACTION CONTROL:

Electronic stability program with traction control optional

BRAKES: ABS optional

LENGTH: 190.9 inches

WHEELBASE: 108.9 in.

WIDTH: 71.8 inches

HEIGHT: 58.9 inches

WEIGHT: 3,405-3,568 lbs.

TRACK: 61.8/61.8

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 16.9 gallons

TIRES: 16-, 17-, or 18-inch