"I bought a '98 Avenger ES with 40.000 miles in '03. I was drawn to the price and the style was more appealing than other mid-sized and small cars.
I rate it average for quality after a few rough starts and consequently having the fuel pump replaced. A friend with a 1999 model had the same fault.
The sway bars were recalled and covered by Dodge.
The paint deteriorated beneath the external coat, so it looked blotchy on the roof but was smooth to touch and did not tarnish the metal. A basic level paint job from a national company made it look like new.
Otherwise, I received compliments on the style, the ride, and the view. The slope of the windshield offers the front seat a good view up and lets in light.
Road noise is comparable to other sport sedans or entry level cars. The back seat is roomy for a coupe - my friends over six foot have more knee room in the back than in the front with the low glove box.
The ES sound system had a good amp, and I enjoyed the other ES options: sliding sunroof, spoiler, cruise control, and fog lamps. The trunk has adequate space.
The suspension helps prevent roll, and handling in a few inches of snow was better than expected."
"This is my Baby, I put top of the line wires and Bosch plugs in it and what a differance in performance. All I can say is wow : She has been by my side for 14 years and 345,000. miles later stii going strong with minor repairs.
Its a real gem and i plan on driving until it blows the rods or something major. Over the years it has taken me from Buffalo to Florida, Maryland,Georgia out West and Canada and it performs great."
"I got my Avenger from a coworker at about 140000. In the car's defense straight off, it hadn't been maintained properly in some time. The brakes were shot, it had been in a couple of fender benders, and basic maintenance didn't go further than oil changes from what I gathered. (There WERE, oil changes, right?) At any rate, it died out on me within the first year and needed a heavy tune up... new spark plugs, wires, brake rotors, etc. No big deal really, it was behind and needed a little TLC after having been neglected.
Now, where things start getting problematic is that the sucker is a pain to work on. Replacing a simple sensor that was causing problems required a trip to the dealership and a good $300+. Some of the basics were alright, but anything more complicated required dealership work due to the complex nature of the car.
Plenty of leaks... a little oil, a little transmission fluid. Annoying. Idled rough, but mostly stayed in good working order. Other real annoyance was the door handles. These cars break handles off left and right. I'd laugh when I saw another Avenger in a parking lot because at least one handle was always broken as well. Both of mine broke, and it felt like the one I replaced was getting ready to go too. Might as well get them in six packs.
Mileage wasn't bad for a big car, maybe 25 MPG overall. Turning radius was h o r r i b l e. Felt like driving a 747; U-turns need not apply.
All in all it's hard to judge completely due to its period of neglect, but my impressions was it was a run of the mill American "meh" car that got the job done and had its faults. It finally met its end when a car pulled out in front of me on the highway and we hit at 45ish. In its final battle it performed admirably overall; despite the engine compartment being badly crushed on the left side I only received fairly minor injuries. At least on safety I can give it a strong score, as it soaked the hit like a pro."