DETROIT – Prices for the ’08 Dodge Avenger will start at $18,895 when the all-new midsize sedan launches this spring.

Chrysler Group makes the announcement at the North American Auto Show here, where the production-model of the Avenger is unveiled.

The Avenger’s starting price for the SE trim level, which boasts Chrysler’s 2.4L 4-cyl. World Engine, is $1,605 less than the base sticker of the outgoing Dodge Stratus. But the new sedan offers additional content valued at $985, Chrysler says. The base World Engine is rated at 32 mpg (7.3L/100 km) on the highway.

Additional features include standard side curtain and side seat-mounted airbags; theft alarm; tilt/telescoping steering wheel and Chrysler’s trademarked ChillZone beverage cooler, which is integrated into the vehicle’s glove box.

New optional equipment includes all-wheel drive – scheduled for late availability and only in the top-end 3.5L V-6.

Chrysler also will offer its 2.7L flex-fuel V-6 in the Avenger.

Chrysler's aggressive pricing strategy reprises the one it adopted when Avenger’s platform mate, the all-new, front-wheel-drive ’07 Chrysler Sebring midsize sedan launched in September.

Chrysler is hoping the availability of AWD will set the Avenger apart from its competition in the segment. The auto maker is mum on how many customers it expects will opt for the feature.

“We’ll sell as many as we can,” Larry Lyons, vice president-FWD product team, says.

The Avenger also shares other significant features available on the Sebring. They include:

  • Electronic stability control with traction control.
  • Heated/cooled front cupholder.
  • YES Essentials soil-repellant and anti-microbial fabric.
  • 20-gigabyte infotainment/data storage system known as MyGIG.

emayne@wardsauto.com