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Dodge Intrepid offers abundant power and decent fuel efficiency. It handles rough roads very well and delivers a comfortable ride. Handing is sharp and precise. There's plenty of room for five passengers (or six with the available front bench seat). In spite of its age, the Intrepid's sleek styling looks handsome and contemporary.
The Intrepid SXT offers a strong value. The SXT is essentially a value-priced version of the top ES model that includes a high-output engine, chrome wheels, and a spoiler. It's a good package, boasting quicker acceleration performance, top-model features, and a lower price than the ES.
The Dodge Intrepid handles amazingly well for such a large sedan. The suspension does a good job of handling extremely rough roads with big bumps, something we learned while driving a 2003 Intrepid SXT at Chrysler's proving grounds at Chelsea, Michigan. The Intrepid's rigid chassis translates into low levels of body shake, reduced noise, vibration and harshness, and improved handling and stability. Extensive use of aluminum helps minimize weight without sacrificing stiffness. On really bad, rough roads, the Intrepid does exhibit some cowl shake, however.
The Intrepid is an easy car to drive, and covering long distances in it is a pleasant experience. Sixteen-inch wheels are standard. The Goodyear Eagle GA tires on an ES we drove offered impressive grip. We were amazed at how well they handled snow and ice after a snowstorm that dumped six inches on the Washington, D.C., area. We easily cruised up hills covered in deep, virgin snow.
The 3.5-liter V6 delivers excellent acceleration performance, and it's good at completing passes. The transmission shifts effectively without hunting around for the appropriate gear. The SXT is the best deal here, in terms of price and power. It generates 10 more horsepower by revving higher, but the key difference is its increased torque at lower rpm. Torque is that force that propels you away from intersections when you stand on the gas and the SXT delivers 250 pounds-feet of it at just 3950 rpm, compare with the ES model's 241 pounds-feet at 4400 rpm. More power at lower rpm means more quicker.
Brakes are excellent, offering quick, stable stopping power at the threshold of wheel lock. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are available, and we recommend them, as they allow the driver to maintain steering control during emergency braking situations. When we slammed on the brakes, they brought our 2003 SXT to a smooth, undramatic stop. On the ES with the M-Package, ABS comes with traction control (for $775), which enhances driver control by reducing wheel spin under hard acceleration. The traction control system made the Intrepid easier to drive briskly on snow and ice. Intrepid's quad-beam headlights 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.
The new Intrepid SXT offers a strong value with a more powerful engine at a lower price.