The subcompact Dodge Shadow is Chrysler Corp.'s practical, high-mileage rival to the Ford Escort and Chevy Cavalier-but not for long.

The Shadow will be replaced by the new Dodge Neon (the same car will be sold under the Plymouth Neon name as well) in January. The Neon promises to bea practical, high-mileage competitor with the Escort and Cavalier, with one exception to those cars-it will emphasize the "fun" in function.

If you're looking for great looks or superior ride and handling, you won't find them in the Shadow, despite the standard gas-charged struts, rear anti-sway bar and sport-tuned suspension.

This is a small car that gets you where you are going without frequent stops for refueling. Oddly, however, it gets you where you're going very quickly, thanks to the optional 3-liter, 141-horsepower, V-6 engine. The V-6 delivers 21 m.p.g. city/29 highway teamed with an optional four-speed automatic transmission. The mileage rating seemed modest. Though we spent a good deal of time kicking the pedal to enjoy the 3-liter's response, the Shadow seemed to have a real aversion to pausing for gas.

Putting the 3-liter V-6 in the Shadow sets the stage for a couple peppy newengines Chrysler will offer in the Neon, 130- and 140-horsepower versions of a2-liter four-cylinder. The 3-liter in the Shadow offers about the same kick asthe 2-liter in the lighter Neon-which will get even better mileage.

The base price of the front-wheel-drive ES coupe we drove is $9,804.

Standard equipment includes power brakes and steering; 15-inch, all-season radial tires; stainless-steel exhaust; rear-deck spoiler; spring-held hood; fold-down rear seat backs; AM/FM stereo with clock; dual, remote outside mirrors; and driver-side air bag (dual air bags are to be standard in the Neon).

Options included a $1,873 package consisting of air conditioning, tinted glass, rear-window defroster, floor mats, fog lamps, remote liftgate release, radio upgrade with cassette and dual visor vanity mirrors; automatic transmission at $730; the 3-liter V-6 at $694; and cast aluminum wheels at $328. With a $505 freight charge and a $900 discount on the option package thecar stickers at $13,034.

With the Neon coming in January, you would expect-make that demand-that Dodge dealers will discount the Shadow to make room for Chrysler's answer to GM's Saturn-a small, low-priced (Chrysler hints at a window sticker at least $1,000 less than Saturn's), high-mileage, fun-to-drive car-with two air bags.