- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2000

MODEL: Dodge Intrepid ES
VEHICLE TYPE: Four-door sedan
PRICE-AS-TESTED: $27,800
MILEAGE: 18 city, 28 highway

The saying "getting a lot of bang for the buck" can be applied to the 2000 Dodge Intrepid ES model. This competitively priced sedan even includes an AutoStick.
The dual-mode AutoStick transaxle provides a driver the best of both worlds. One world is realized when the driver wants high performance from the engine. By simply flipping the shifter lever down a notch into the AutoStick mode, the driver finds shifting gears is very fast. This transmission offers the convenience of an automatic with the control of a manual.
Because I could shift gears faster than using the old-fashioned method of activating a stick shift and clutch, I found the AutoStick great on roads with sharp turns. Quick shifting allowed me to apply the brakes just before the apex of the curve, then zap down into a lower gear for faster acceleration out of the curve.
While other Intrepids have a 2.7-liter engine, the ES has a 3.2-liter V-6 engine that produces 225 horsepower. With the AutoStick, I used the horsepower and torque to their fullest. Yet this car isn't a gas guzzler; it has a mileage rating of 19 city and 28 highway using regular gasoline.
When I was driving in a more leisurely world, the same shifter allowed me to select the four-speed automatic transmission. In automatic, I drove at an easier-flowing pace.
There's nothing new about this Dodge transmission, but now that it is included on the ES model that has a base price of $22,235, it should be an attraction for the prudent shopper. Of course, no one buys just a base-price car anymore; the bottom line on my tester was $28,170. We'll get to that in a moment. Right now, I'm reporting on standard equipment.
Another standard bang for the buck includes disc brakes on all four wheels. The ES also has traction control. With other Intrepids, you get only front disc and rear drum. Even the suspension on the ES is above the ordinary; it has gas struts on the front and gas shocks on the rear plus four-wheel touring suspension. And the car comes with hefty 16-inch tires mounted on shiny five-spoke wheels.
The ES is classified as a large car, yet it doesn't feel large when driving. The Intrepid looks sporty and handles like a sporty car. I first laid eyes on the "cab forward" styling in 1992. Through the years, there have been numerous improvements to the Intrepid, but the styling has remained pretty much intact.
Of all the DaimlerChrysler products, the Intrepid has always had the sportiest appearance. It's the low front end and high rear deck that catch my eye.
This car has plenty of interior room, plus a huge trunk. The down side is that a large parcel won't fit past the trunk lid opening. Even though the hinges don't protrude into the storage compartment, the trunk lid opening is a bit small, limiting the size of the items that can pass into the storage area. Long objects are carried easily by lowering the backrest of the 60/40 seat back.
The interior, with leather seat covers, is plush and inviting. And there are a lot of thoughtful features that one might hope to get in a luxury car. That brings us to the options. For less that $3,000, the ES is equipped with air conditioning with automatic climate control, automatic day/night mirrors, eight-way power seats for both the driver and passenger, plus much more. Other options: battery and engine block heater, and a moon roof.
Another option is a 240-watt sound system that accommodates cassettes and CDs, plus nine speakers. Not only does the ES model offer big bang for the buck, the bang includes big sound.
MOTOR MATTERSDodge Intrepid lets driver have best of both worlds

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