Making its world debut in New York, the new 2012 Dodge Avenger R/T will arrive this fall to put a well-measured performance exclamation point on the division's mid-size front-drive sedan. This high-profile newcomer melds unique appearance elements and a seriously retuned suspension with the potent but economical 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that's optional in other Avenger models.

With gas prices continuing to climb, Dodge elected to leave the Pentastar six/six-speed automatic transmission combo unchanged. But with a class-leading 283 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque -- 90 percent of which is on hand by 1,600 rpm -- that pairing should let the 2012 Avenger R/T hit 60 mph in well under 7.0 seconds and still return EPA numbers of 19 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.

>See more new cars unveiled at the 2011 New York Auto Show

The most meaningful changes to the R/T formula are largely unseen. Spring and damper rates have been substantially upped at both ends of the platform and roll stiffness was increased by 18 percent, helped by an even larger rear anti-roll bar. The result is a car that handles with far greater confidence and precision and boasts a far higher fun-to-drive quotient.

A number of fairly understated but effective exterior changes set the new Dodge Avenger R/T apart from its lesser kin. A unique body-color grille with the Dodge badge, black headlamp background, and a "war paint" R/T decal on the front quarter panel add interest up front while a subtle decklid spoiler and a chrome "R/T" badge tickle the tail, all framed by unique 18-inch  painted aluminum wheels. Inside, this ultra Avenger gets deeply-bolstered/heated sport buckets covered in Aunde fabric with Z stripe fabric inserts, red contrast stitching and R/T logos in the headrests. The R/T's unique gauge cluster features a center-positioned tachometer while the pedal set has an SRT-inspired look. For the sonically inclined, the Avenger R/T also boasts a 276-watt touchscreen entertainment center with a 30-gigabyte hard drive and a Boston Acoustics premium sound system. The 2012 Dodge Avenger is set to hit showrooms during the third quarter of this year, with pricing to be announced closer to its actual on-sale date.

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