Dodge Cars and Trucks For 1998
By Carey Russ
"Racy, red, and powerful" is the image for Dodge these days. Bold styling, featuring a "cross-hair" grille, makes Dodge cars and trucks stand out. Even without that particular styling aspect, the new Intrepid, and continuing Viper coupes and roadsters, Avenger coupes, Stratus and Neon sedans, and Caravan minivans are unmistakable Dodge.
Only the name is the same. The 1998 Dodge Intrepid is a sleek, modern sports sedan that pushed the cab forward envelope. Inside is room for 5 or 6 people. Under the hood are new aluminum V6 engines. A 2.7-liter, 200-horsepower unit powers the base mode Intrepid, while a 3.2-liter engine with 220 horsepower is found in the upscale ES. The ES also has the "AutoStick" transmission, which combines automatic convenience with fast manual shifting.
Although the Neon sedans and coupes are sold under both the Dodge and Plymouth names, Dodge is the performance division of Chrysler Corporation. So, 1998 sees new sport options for the Dodge Neon.
Remember the "R/T" sport package, Mopar fans of long standing? It's back, at least on the Neon. More than a cosmetic upgrade, the new R/T pack offers most of the hardware that has brought the Neon to SCCA Showroom Stock racing class wins. Under the special colors and "Viper Stripes" outside is a 150-horsepower 2.0- liter twincam 4-cylinder engine with performance upgrades and a 5- speed gearbox. Sport seats and trim enhance the driving experience, and special suspension tuning and 4-wheel disc brakes make it handle and stop to high-performance specs.
There have been realignments to trim level contents for other Neons. The previous "Highline" level is the new standard level.
Now available in coupe form as well as the original roadster, the 1998 Viper has revisions for lower weight. lower emissions, and better fuel economy. The roadster has become almost civilized over the years, without losing its brawny performance abilities. The coupe, introduced last year, offers such amenities as a real roof and windows to the Viper enthusiast. With 450 horsepower on tap from an 8-liter V10 engine, the Viper will never be too civilized.
The Dodge Caravan is the world's best-selling minivan. It is offered in short or long wheelbase form with a variety of interior configurations. There are revisions to all this year. Just what has changed depends on model and trim level, with various interior and mechanical enhancements.
The Avenger combines sporty styling and real, useable interior room. It was freshened last year, and has new interior and exterior colors and an available sport package for 1998.
The midsized Stratus combines performance, styling, and interior space. Two models are offered for 1998. They have upgraded standard equipment and new color choices this year.