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Dodge Intrepid ES (2000)

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 22,085
     Price As Tested                                    $ 26,480
     Engine Type              SOHC 24-valve 3.2 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 197 cid/3231 cc
     Horsepower                                   225 @ 6300 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               225 @ 3800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  113.0"/74.7"/203.7"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3528 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  17.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                   225/60R16 all-season touring
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 86 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.30


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            19/28/23
     0-60 MPH                                        9.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          17.5 seconds @ 84.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           115 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

When it first came out in 1993, the Dodge Intrepid revolutionized the way new cars would look. Dodge used every card in its deck to make its whole line of LH cars look sexy, and it worked. The new version comes in base, sporty R/T and as our tester, the mid-trim Intrepid ES.

OUTSIDE - Every sharp line, crease and fold was smoothed and rounded, and the windshield was raked radically forward which created a expansive dashboard and lots of controversy. A restyle was completed in 1998, and with it came structural reinforcements and body enhancements to freshen it up. It slices the wind cleanly with a 0.30 coefficient of drag, which is on par with sportier cars in a higher price bracket. The doors are long and open wide, especially the rear doors which open to a cavernous back seat. Its steeply sloping rear roof pillar can make climbing back there somewhat awkward for tall people. Externally, not much has changed for 2000 except for a half-dozen new colors.

INSIDE - The Intrepid is classified by the EPA as being a "Large Car" with good reason. Nearly any size driver can tailor a comfortable seating position behind the wheel and larger drivers will find lots of leg and headroom. The Intrepid can be ordered with either a three-across front bench seat or a pair of well-bolstered buckets. Its rear seat can hold three full-sized adults, but the center rear passenger will be the least comfortable. The two outboard rear passengers, however, will enjoy lots of leg, head and hip room, even with the front seats moved back. Its interior is designed for both style and function, with sporty white-faced gauges and durable standard premium cloth upholstery. Standard features include air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and door locks, tilt steering, speed control and variable speed intermittent wipers. An optional sunroof is now available on base models, while our test car was well-optioned with over $4,000 in extra equipment.

ON THE ROAD - Depending on the model, the Intrepid is available with one of three different engines. Base models come standard with an all-aluminum, dual overhead cam 2.7 liter V6 engine. It produces 200 horsepower and 190 pound-feet or torque. The standard ES uses the same engine, except with its dual-tuned intake manifold adds 2 more horsepower and five more pound-feet of torque. The top-line R/T adds a 3.5 liter single overhead cam engine with an exciting 242 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. Our test car, however, came with a third option, a single-cam 3.2 liter V6 with 225 horsepower and the same amount of torque. All models are certified to meet Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) standards, and all can be run safely on regular unleaded fuel. We found power to be adequate, though after the engine reached its upper rpms range, it showed some unwanted engine noise. Its standard four-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly and the ES model's standard AutoStick shifting system proved that an automatic can be sporty and fun to drive. Traction control is optional.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Like most passenger cars these days, the Intrepid is built atop a unibody platform, though Dodge uses separate front and rear subframes for the independent suspension systems, which do an excellent job of filtering out vibrations. The front and rear suspensions use MacPherson struts, tube shocks, coil springs and anti-roll bars. Its handling is above-par when compared to others in its class, and we found its emergency handling characteristics to be good also. Its power rack-and-pinion steering system proved quick to react to driver inputs, with plenty of road and on-center feel. Its stellar handling comes, in part, from the use of 225-series 16-inch all-season tires, which grip well on both wet and dry pavement. The R/T model will handle twisting roads even better, but it comes as a tradeoff to an ultra-smooth ride. Braking is done by four-wheel disc with an optional anti-lock braking system (ABS) that's packaged with traction control.

SAFETY - Dual front airbags, rear child seat tether anchors, side- impact door beams are standard. ABS and traction control are optional.

OPTIONS - Preferred package: $3,045; ABS/traction control: $775; 3.2 liter engine: $500; destination charge: $550.