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By Richard Truett
October 24, 1991
The Dodge Shadow convertible is nearly a year late, but after spending a week with a turbo charged ES model, I think it was definitely worth the wait. Chrysler always has had a nice touch with convertibles, and the Shadow is no exception. It is
well-built, economical, fairly quick and a breeze to drive. Like other small convertibles in its class, the Shadow ES has fun written all over it - especially for our region of the country. The $2,000 customer rebate makes the well-equipped Shadow
ES an excellent value. ENGINE, PERFORMANCE The turbocharged, 2.5-liter four cylinder and three-speed automatic transmission in the test car make a perfect drivetrain for the 2,910-pound Shadow convertible. It's no hot rod, but the Shadow
easily reaches cruising speed when entering the interstate, and it effortlessly hustles through gaps in traffic. Some turbocharged cars are difficult to handle when the turbo is working at full boost - not the front-wheel-drive Shadow. There is no
trace of torque steer, and the suspension system is not overwhelmed by the sudden rush of power. It feels just right. Some may not care for the engine's noise. It is a little louder than on many other small cars, but most convertibles do not have as
much insulation as hardtops. The fuel-injected four cylinder develops 152 horsepower. The three-speed transmission seemed OK. Its shifts weren't particularly smooth, but it worked well enough. It is geared so that highway cruising allows the engine to
turn over fairly slowly. Gas mileage is EPA-rated at 19 miles per gallon in city driving and 23 mpg on the highway. I got better than 22 mpg city; 25 highway with the air conditioner running. STEERING, HANDLING The Shadow has a soft but solid
ride. It is best described as competent, and not particularly sporty. The power-assisted rack and pinion steering is quick and light, and tight turns are easy. In sharp turns at high speeds the Shadow can be a bit unwieldy, but you really have to push
the car hard to make it lose its composure. For the most part, it is a very predictable car. I like the way the Shadow feels, drives and handles in regular city driving. The power disc/drum brakes are not overly powerful, but they are well up to the
task of handling the extra requirements of the turbocharged engine. FIT, FINISH, CONTROLS There is room for improvement inside the Shadow. I never could get comfortable in the driver's seat. Another gripe: The weather strip around the driver's
door leaked during a heavy rainstorm, and when the trunk is opened water on the lid pours in. Aside from that, Chrysler did a fine job making the Shadow fun, sporty and durable. The striped cloth covering the seats and door panels, the black vinyl
convertible top and the carpet are first-rate. The top is manually operated, but it can be flipped open and locked into place in less than 30 seco
nds. It can be raised nearly as quickly.