2003 Intrepid New Car Test Drive
Dodge Intrepid offers abundant power and decent fuel efficiency. It handles rough roads very well and delivers a comfortable ride. Handing is sharp and precise. There's plenty of room for five passengers (or six with the available front bench seat). In spite of its age, the Intrepid's sleek styling looks handsome and contemporary.
The Intrepid SXT offers a strong value. The SXT is essentially a value-priced version of the top ES model that includes a high-output engine, chrome wheels, and a spoiler. It's a good package, boasting quicker acceleration performance, top-model features, and a lower price than the ES.
Dodge offers the Intrepid in two trim levels: SE and the more powerful and better-equipped ES. Plus there's the new SXT, a more powerful version of the ES loaded with equipment and aggressively priced. (The R/T model has been discontinued.) All Intrepid models come standard with a four-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission.
SE ($21,155) is powered by a 200-horsepower 2.7-liter V6 with dual overhead camshafts. SE standard equipment includes air conditioning, four-wheel-disc brakes, power windows and door locks, tilt steering, and 225/60R16 tires on 16-inch steel wheels.
ES ($24,475) and SXT ($24,005) are powered by a 3.5-liter V6. Equipped with single overhead camshafts and a multi-plenum intake manifold, the 3.5-liter engine produces 234 horsepower in the ES, but 244 horsepower in the SXT, thanks mostly to electronic control of the trick manifold.
In addition to its more powerful engine, the ES upgrades fog lamps, aluminum wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, eight-way power for the driver's seat, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, premium AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers and 120-watt amplifier, cruise control, and remote keyless entry. ES Quick Order 27M package ($710) adds leather upholstery, adjustable lumbar support for the driver, automatic climate control, central locking, overhead console with universal garage door opener and trip computer, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated visor mirrors, and a security alarm system.
Complementing the added power of the SXT are 16-inch chrome wheels, P225/60R16 all-season touring tires, touring suspension, a decklid spoiler, and a bright exhaust tip.
ABS ($600) and side-impact airbags ($390) are optional on all models. The ES model offers ABS and traction control ($775) as part of an option package. A new option for 2003 is a six-disc, in-dash CD changer ($775 on SE, $425 on ES or SXT), replacing the four-disc changer offered last year.