1998 Dodge Intrepid ES 3.2 from North America
A great car that's both fun and practical.
Transmission module failed at 78000; Dealership repair cost was $160.
Weatherstripping on rear door came loose. I repaired it with adhesive. It's fine now.
After many forays into the the foreign car market with VW, Audi, Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, BMW and Mercedes, I was willing to take a shot at the Intrepid ES after the good press I'd read about it. I bought the car from a relative and drive it for over 2 years; city and highway both. Make no mistake about my for cars. I'm a very demanding customer. The grew up in Detroit. I built my 1st engine before I was 17. I build a car from 2 wrecks when I was 18 and set a dragstrip record in my class in the same car the same year. I switched to road racing a couple of years later and drove a Mazda and a VW in competition. So I know something about cars. (Oh yeah, I worked as a Design Engineer for a couple of decades in Detroit too, but that's another story.) With this in mind allow me to elaborate...
When I first bought the car I had the transmission and coolant flushed and replaced as well as having the engine oil treated with a solvent and flushed to break down any deposits. Any prudent person familiar with todays high revving, close tolerance engines would do nothing else. These are not your fathers Buicks anymore. I did nothing special, just the usual maintenance I perform on every car I've ever owned with 50,000 miles on it. After 30 months behind the wheel I have to say I'm impressed. I have nothing but good things to say about it.
The interior creature comforts are exceptional. It's has a very roomy interior, yards of legroom in both the front and rear, the seats are very comfortable (I can drive for 6 hours without any discomfort), the instrument panel is logically layed out and the controls sensible and easy to access.
The exterior fit and finish of the car is superb. The body panel edges fit flush and are evenly spaced and the detail lines are a precise match (much better than most of my old cars). But the REAL impressive issue with the exterior is the aerodynamics of the body. The drag coefficient of the body design is extraordinarily low. This car cuts through the air very cleanly. To be frank, I've never had a huge, 5 passenger, full size car that get 31 MPG when highway cruising at 70 MPH. The body style is beautiful too. It's very futuristic; and makes most of the cars in it's class and price range look clunky and boring.
But the performance is what sets this car apart. It's handling is quick and nimble for a car it's size. It's very predictable in hard cornering with just a bit of oversteer in hard cornering. It tracks straight and true during panic stops with almost no nose dive. The "Autostick" snap into gear firmly and without hesitation and generally works great with all the advantages of a true 4 speed without the hassle of a clutch. It accelerates like it's tale is on fire with lots of punch on the highway for passing. (Under hard acceleration the trans kicks down to a lower gear and the engine winds up to almost 6000RPM before upshifting. If I would have tried that with my 1990 Grand Prix STE or my old Taurus I'd be shoveling my engine off the highway.)
I've been driving for over 35 years and had a couple of dozen cars. This ones' in the to 5. I was surprised that I like it as much as I do. It has proven itself to be a very reliable car.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 1st February, 2003