In case you haven’t already noticed, I’m a big fan of Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles. First, he’s the most approachable CEO I’ve ever met, and he’s a car guy at heart. You can tell that he’d much rather be behind the wheel of anything with wheels and horsepower than trapped in a corporate boardroom explaining PowerPoint graphs on P&L to Sergio Marchionne. He’s a driver, so things like lift throttle oversteer and rotation are part of his vocabulary; when he tells you what a car can do, it’s not because an engineer gave him the specs. Instead, you know that Gilles has been crossed-up in a new Avenger R/T, counter steering to catch the back end with an ear-to-ear grin on his face. If only more companies had CEOs with Gilles’ passion for their industry, the world would be a far better place.
The video below does a great job of taking you through the Avenger R/T, which returns to the Dodge product line in 2012, but here’s what you need to know: it’s got 283 horsepower and a lower, stiffer suspension. Even the rear sway bar has been beefed up, which means that the new Avenger R/T will do more than just understeer when you turn in to a corner. I’ll reserve judgement until I have a chance to get behind the wheel of one, but I’ll admit to being disappointed over the absence of a manual transmission and bigger brakes. Look for the Avenger R/T to hit Dodge dealers sometime in the third quarter of this year.