Will the 2012 Dodge Avenger R/T avenge the Avenger?

Remember that Dodge Avenger rally car from last week? Here's its streetable cousin, the 2012 Dodge Avenger R/T. The suspension? She is stiffer. Pentastar power? True. The transmission? Automatic. Please, talk amongst yourselves.

The Avenger already got an overhaul for 2011, with a heavily revised suspension geometry and Chrysler's more powerful 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, so don't expect viva la revolucion! The latest rapid-transit-spec Avenger gets additional stiffening, a new front-and-center tachometer and go-fast-looking interior and exterior stuff. But mainly, the front-drive cousin of the Chrysler 200 gets that same Pentastar V6 producing the same 283 hp. Cue the sad trombone.

While there's no manual option, there is a six-speed automatic (that old four-speed autobox retired for the 2011 model) that slithers out an EPA fuel economy rating of 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. (We're still waiting for that six-speed, dual-clutch business from Fiat.)

So what of this stiffer suspension getup? The company says roll stiffness is up by 18 percent, with spring rates increased by 17 percent in the front and more than 12 percent in the rear. Front strut damping rates are up by 15 percent, rear strut damping rates by nearly 20 percent. The rear stabilizer bar diameter is 2 mm larger than base, up from 19 mm to 21 mm. All of that connects to the ground via 18" painted aluminum wheels.

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Inside, the 2012 Dodge Avenger R/T's upholstered in spun-dyed, air-textured polyester by Aunde, with Z stripe fabric inserts, red stitching and leather-trimmed bolsters and that familiar "R/T" graphic stitched in red on the front headrests. The steering wheel gets typical perforated leather wrappage accented with red stitching.

A Boston Acoustic sound system sits atop the 276-watt stereo / touchscreen entertainment center with a 30-gigabyte hard drive. That and and remote start are among the car's standard gadgetry.

With Dodge being positioned as Chrysler's performance brand, expect to see the 2012 Dodge Avenger R/T in full-lock, closed-course-do-not-attempt mode in several ridiculous Michael C. Hall-narrated TV spots (we're assuming) ahead of its arrival in dealerships this summer.

Also expect that those commercials will be as performance-oriented as the 2012 Avenger R/T will ever get. I'm sorry, but given this car's curb weight's got to be pretty similar to the Chrysler 200's just-shy-of 4,000 lbs, that added oomph doesn't do much more than continue to motivate this mid-size in the appropriate direction. Can you believe the Sonata Turbo weighs 500 lbs. less? Unreal.