Related to the Chrysler Concorde, Dodges full-size front-wheel-drive (FWD) Intrepid sedans are ready for another season. Powertrain alterations and the addition of a police-car package highlighted the Intrepid news in 2002. A new SXT option joined the lineup before the 2003 model year began; it features the high-output, 244-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine that was previously found in the sporty R/T, which has been discontinued.
Both the Intrepid and Concorde were last redesigned for the 1998 model year. Chryslers Concorde and 300M share the same basic FWD platform as the Intrepid, but each car has different styling and its own purpose. Starting in July 2002, all Chrysler vehicles gained a new 7-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is transferable to subsequent owners. The warranty covers engines, transmissions, transfer cases and axles.
Bold Intrepid styling is likely to turn more heads on the road than most other full-size cars. In 1993, the Chrysler Corp. pioneered the cab-forward profile for the first-generation Intrepid; this design theme uses wheels that are pushed out toward the end of the car. A low nose and high tail also help to give the Intrepid a sleek, aerodynamic shape. All models have 16-inch tires and a touring-tuned suspension.
Five-passenger seating is standard, but an optional front bench for the base SE model provides seating for six. The Intrepid accommodates tall passengers in the front and rear. All four doors open wide enough for easy entry and exit. With a capacity of 18.4 cubic feet, the trunk provides ample cargo room even if its high liftover makes loading heavy items a chore.
A 60/40-split, folding rear seatback is standard in the ES and STX sedans and optional in the SE. In addition to the stronger engine, the STX option includes a six-speaker CD stereo, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, an eight-way power drivers seat and keyless entry.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available in the Intrepid. A 200-hp, 2.7-liter V-6 goes into the SE sedan, while the basic upscale ES gets a 234-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. Topping the performance list is the ES with an STX option, which comes with a high-output, 244-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. All models are equipped with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are offered as optional equipment.
The Intrepid is an appealing vehicle both visually and functionally. The 2.7-liter V-6 engine in the SE is adequate in strength, but it must work rather hard to deliver effective performance. Both 3.5-liter engines are sure to yield satisfying action on the highway. Even though the smaller engine responds adequately for passing and merging under ordinary conditions, it rapidly loses steam on upgrades. Automatic-transmission operation is generally trouble-free, but an awkward downshift can occur now and then.
The Intrepid handles with more agility than most cars of its size, and it holds the road snugly and takes corners capably. The standard suspension is soft enough to cushion a lot of pavement flaws, but its sufficiently firm to maintain constant control.