The Dodge Intrepid is the class of the Chrysler trio of LH sedans. It has the best styling, the best performance, certainly the best name, and as a result, it has the most buyers. But folks, give the Eagle Vision a beak . . . er, break.
Intrepid has gotten the most attention as the "performance version" of the LH sedan trio and enjoys more magnetic appeal than the Vision or Chrysler Concorde. Yet, we test drove the Vision TSi and found it just as lively, just as nimble, just as
loaded with the gamut of safety gear as the Intrepid. Vision, however, is burdened by a big metal Eagle's head logo stuck in its nose where most cars pick up insect splatter. While the Eagle is the bird du jour of the U.S., it's also an
endangered species. Maybe that's why consumers lean toward Intrepid. At the Chicago Auto Show, Chrysler's Eagle division displayed a concept called the Vision Aerie, a styling upgrade of the Vision featuring a bolder front end. It
featured that Eagle's head resting where the grille would be, but also was flanked by thinly sculptured, flush-mounted headlamps that rested above deep twin scoops in the bumper. Great look. Vision Aerie was a hint that Vision will be more
fashionable next time around as well as more exciting: it came with a phone that automatically dials +999 when the dual air bags deploy; an on-board navigation system as well as a voice-activated phone with fax capability; and a beefed-up 275-horsepower
version of Chrysler's current 214-h.p., 3.5-liter, 24-valve, V-6 engine. Eagle has had no image since Chrysler acquired American Motors Corp. and had to find a name to call the surviving AMC vehicles. Eagle was macho and patriotic, but to be
brutally blunt, the moniker has outlived its usefulness. Simply put, Eagle is for the birds. Chrysler executives had been committed to dumping the Plymouth brand and promoting the Eagle brand. Fact is, Plymouth isa well-recognized name; Eagle
isn't. It's a leftover tag from the days when AMC was bought to acquire rights to build and sell its Jeeps. It's noteworthy that in recent weeks Chrysler has been rethinking its plans to dump Plymouth and the decades of heritage that go with it.
This fall the 1995 Chrysler Cirrus and Dodge Stratus sedans will bow. Cirrus/Stratus replace the Dodge Spirit/Plymouth Acclaim. A Plymouth companion is scheduled to join Cirrus and Stratus within one year. But no Eagle brand. Also, the 1995 Dodge
Avenger comes out this fall and the 1995 Chrysler Sebring will appear after the first of next year. Avenger replaces the old Dodge Daytona coupe and Sebring replaces the old Chrysler LeBaron coupe. No Plymouth brand, but no Eagle head either.
But we digress in our quest to check out the Vision. We test drove the top-of-the-line 1994 Vision TSi with the 3.5-liter, 24-valve, 214-h.p., V-6 teamed with 4-speed automatic. The 3.5 resp
onds quickly with only gentle pressure on the accelerator. The TSi is lively on the straightaways and mannerly in the corners and turns. The body sits flat in even the most wicked turns. Rather than back off the gas pedal and move the foot over
to apply the brake, you can accelerate into or out of the serpentive twists in the roadway. In moving down a tollway merger ramp, we were able to kick the pedal hard halfway through the semicircle and get to speed to blend into traffic once we
reached the end of the ramp. The car is limber and nimble. Aiding the surefootedness was the traction control that keeps the treads from slipping when you need to take off from the light or when you encounter snow or rain on the pavement. While
others stepped away gingerly when the light turned green, we sped to the head of the pack. You feel in control of the road, not at the mercy of it. The Vision TSi comes fully equipped with dual air bags, four-wheel ABSan
traction control, just what you want for the feeling of security regardless of weather. A couple of other nice touches included sun visors with side plastic slide outs for extended protection from glare; an overhead console with space for a
garage door opener and glasses; an outside temperature reading to make you feel cozy in the cabin in the winter and cool in the summer; a darkened dash to reduce the glare that reflects off the sharply angled windshield and to answer an owner complaint
in 1993; and an integrated child safety seat that hides until you pull it out of the regular seat back and bottom. One problem we encountered, however, was the dual outside mirrors. They never seemed to be at quite the right angle for optimum
side and rear vision. Aerodynamic design often forces automakers to use slim mirrors, yet safety demands that the field of vision is more important than resistance to wind. And it would be nice if Chrysler softened the seats a tad. They're a bit
too stiff for long-distance comfort. Base price: $23,212. Add $1,167 for a package that includes power seats, an Infinity sound system with cassette, and day/night rearview mirror, plus $175 for traction control (don't skip this option, it pays
its own dividends) and $100 for the integrated child safety seat in back, a most popular option among not only young couples with kids, but the parents of those young couples who moonlight as babysitters. Add $525 for freight.