1997 DODGE INTREPID ES
By Matt/Bob Hagin
SEE ALSO: Dodge Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 22,260 Price As Tested $ 26,645 Engine Type 3.5 Liter V6 w/SFI* Engine Size 215 cid/3518 cc Horsepower 214 @ 5850 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 221 @ 3100 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 113"/74.4"/201.8" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3570 Pounds Fuel Capacity 18 gallons Tires (F/R) P225/60R16 Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content 89 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.32 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 17/26/22 0-60 MPH 9.1 seconds 1/4 Mile (E.T.) 17.3 seconds @ 85.3 mph Top speed 130 * Sequential fuel injection
(Cars like the ten-cylinder Dodge Viper and the new Plymouth Prowler street rod are the Glamour Boys of the Chrysler lineup, but the Dodge Intrepid is the workhorse of its passenger car lineup. It easily outsells it's closest in-house rival more than twofold and the test team of Matt and Bob Hagin soon discovered that the car is comfortable and quite user-friendly for everyone who rides inside.)
BOB - Twenty years ago, Las Vegas bookies were giving some very good odds that the Chrysler Corporation would join that long list of American auto makers who's cars were found only in auto museums and history books. But the arrival of a couple of front-drive economy cars, the Dodge Omni and the Plymouth Horizon, turned the tide of failure. These cars (plus a big loan from Uncle Sam) saved the day, and now Chrysler is again a major player in the international auto business.
MATT - As anyone who owned one will tell you, those two cars were marginal but they started a tradition among Chrysler passenger cars that's still happening today. They used front-wheel drive and now, all Chrysler passenger sedans are front-wheel drive, too. Although it uses this type of driveline, it's interesting that the engine is mounted longitudinally. Most front-drive cars mount the engine crosswise in the engine bay. And while the Intrepid's styling and accouterments are pretty much common on the standard and the upscale ES versions, there's lots of subtle and not-so subtle differences. They both use V6 engines but the Standard version displaces 3.3 liters, puts out 161 horses and uses pushrods to work the valves, while the ES engine has been punched out to 3.5 liters, develops 214 horsepower and its 24 valves are operated by an overhead cam on top of each cylinder head.
BOB - There's a couple of other differences too, Dad. The ES comes with disc brakes all around, plus an anti-skid braking system, while a buyer of the standard version has to order them optionally. And while the standard version can be had with a couple of different styles of steel wheels, the ES is equipped with stylish alloy wheels. They're both the same size, 16 inches tall by seven inches wide, but I guess that the Dodge people wanted to have something visibly "special" about their fancier ES Intrepid. Another difference is the quasi-ground effects body cladding that's been added to the side of the ES. It's not available on the Plain-Jane Intrepid. I've always thought it was foolish to put that kind of stuff on a car when it doesn't add anything to the performance or comfort.
MATT - In that case, even you can't grouse about the cab-forward design that Chrysler utilized in '93. It pushed the engine and the cowl section a bit forward, brought all the wheels out as far as possible to the corners of the car and increased the living space inside by a whole bunch. It gives the Intrepid almost as much interior room as those old American tuna-boats that you used to drive and you can even wear your top hat in the back seat while you stretch out. Our test car had bucket seats in front, but it can be had with a front bench seat that makes the Intrepid a true six-seater. I liked the car, but I wish we had been given one with the Autostick automatic transmission. The system is really slick in that the gear shift lever can be put in "D" and driven in the conventional "shiftless" fashion, or pulled back a notch from "D" to put it into a manually selectable mode. From then on, the driver can shift up or down thorough the gears at will. This would be handy for driving in the snow or on ice and the optional slow-speed traction control mechanism would be useful then, too, but both can only be had on the ES model Intrepid.
BOB - I've always had kind of a soft spot for Dodges, Matt. The first car I ever owned was a'37 model D-5 convertible coupe back in 1948. I was a high school kid then, and I only had it long enough to get it side-swiped by a Hudson.
MATT - Grandma told me about that one, Dad, and I've always wondered about one thing on those old cars of your childhood. How did you ever manage to keep those stone wheels balanced?