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The Dodge Intrepid is a good car for driving enthusiasts who want a big domestic sedan. It handles well and has lots of power.
The Intrepid is the sportiest of a range of full-size sedans from DaimlerChrysler. It complements the longer and more conservative Chrysler Concorde, the shorter, more European-looking Chrysler 300M and the big, luxurious Chrysler LHS. The Intrepid actually.
The Dodge Intrepid handles amazingly well for such a large sedan. Part of the secret lies deep in its body architecture. The chassis was designed with increased torsional rigidity, including an aluminum cross beam mounted behind the instrument panel. That extra stiffness translates into less body shake and roll, reduced noise, vibration and harshness, and improved handling. Extensive use of aluminum helps minimize weight without sacrificing stiffness.
This is an easy car to drive and covering long distances in it is a pleasant experience. Tires have been upgraded to 16 inches for base and ES models. The Intrepid comes with 16-inch steel wheels, with optional alloy wheels available for the ES. (The R/T model comes with 17-inch alloys.) The tires on our ES offered impressive grip. I was amazed at how well it handled snow and ice after a snowstorm that dumped six inches on the Washington, D.C., area.
The Intrepid ES comes with a 225-horsepower 3.2-liter V6. This all-aluminum engine was developed specifically for this family of sedans. It sounds good under hard acceleration and delivers excellent acceleration performance, whether starting from a standstill or passing at high speeds. This engine is capable of propelling the Intrepid from 0 to 60 mph in the mid-eight-second range, which is quite quick for a big sedan. (We have not had an opportunity to drive the R/T model.)
The transmission shifts effectively without hunting for the appropriate gear. It's also entertaining to pull it back a notch and use the AutoStick mode. This allows the driver to shift up by pushing the lever to the right or downshift by moving it toward the left.
Brakes are excellent, offering quick, predictable stopping power at threshold. ABS is available and we recommend it as anti-lock brakes allow the driver to maintain steering control during emergency braking situations. ABS comes packaged with traction control ($775), which enhances driver control by reducing wheel spin under hard acceleration. The traction control system made the Intrepid easier to drive briskly on icy, snow-covered roads. Intrepid's quad beams provide brilliant illumination.
With its powerful engine and stiff body structure, the Dodge Intrepid offers excellent handling and acceleration. It's smooth and quiet, until you stomp on the throttle. At the same time, there's plenty of room for passengers and cargo.