2001 Dodge Intrepid Reviews and Ratings

Sedan 4D R/T

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2001 Dodge Intrepid
Mitch McCullough, Editor-in-Chief

Introduction
The Dodge Intrepid offers a comfortable ride and full-size interior room for five people (or six if you opt for the front bench seat). It handles well and has lots of power. In spite of its age, the Intrepid's styling still looks fresh, with a sporty and modern appearance.

This year, Dodge took the racing Intrepid racing, entering the competitive world of NASCAR Winston Cup stock car racing. That's a claim none of the other large four-door sedans can make.

Some changes for the 2001 Intrepid include thicker glass aimed to quiet the interior, optional side airbags for the front passengers, and a three-point seatbelt for the center rear seat passenger. Model Lineup
Three Intrepid models are now available: The base Dodge Intrepid SE starts at $20,910; the ES retails for $22,605; and the sporty R/T model rings in at $24,975.

The SE Intrepid comes with a 200-horsepower 2.7-liter V6 and a standard automatic transmission. The other models come with Chrysler's AutoStick, which allows the driver to switch between regular automatic and semi-automatic shift modes.

Intrepid ES comes with a choice between the 2.7-liter (retuned to produce slightly more torque and horsepower than the SE model) or the more powerful 225-horsepower 3.2-liter V6, which adds $500.

The performance-oriented R/T model comes standard with a larger 242-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, performance-tuned exhaust, and 17-inch alloy wheels with aggressive P225/55R17 tires. A premium Infinity sound system (with a cassette player, in-dash four-CD changer and steering wheel-mounted audio controls) is a new option on the R/T for 2001.

Leather seating surfaces are available as part of a comprehensive options package that also includes an automatic climate control system. Walkaround
The Dodge Intrepid is a good example of Chrysler's cab-forward design. The sloping cowl sweeps into a steeply raked windshield, over the curvaceous roof and down a decklid reminiscent of past fastbacks. There is great nuance to the sheet metal, which rolls and undulates like a work of art. It boasts an aggressive grille borrowed from the racy Dodge Viper with sleek, wrap-around cats-eye lenses that flow into the sweeping hood line.

While the Intrepid shares its chassis and drive trains with Chrysler's Concorde, 300M and LHS, these cars do not share sheet metal design. Where the slightly longer Chrysler Concorde accentuates elegance, the Intrepid punches the sporty button.

There's a cavernous 18 cubic-foot trunk, nearly 2 cubic feet more than the last generation Intrepid. But the numbers don't tell the whole story. The trunk hinges fold cleanly out of the way, instead of crushing cargo when the trunk is stuffed. We do have one complaint about the trunk: Lift-over height is high, so you have to lift groceries and other cargo high over the rear bumper to get it into the trunk. Interior
At the same time, the Intrepid provides a roomy interior. The wheels have been moved farther out toward the corners, reducing the amount of front and rear overhang. This adds passenger and cargo space and improves ride quality.

The quality of the interior materials is much better than it was with the previous-generation Dodge Intrepid. Colors match well, and gaps have been minimized. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the space where doors and dashboard come together. To add to the sporty look of the Intrepid, Dodge designers switched to black-on-white gauges. They may be a bit less legible, but they look neat.

The radio is now on top of the heater controls; most of us fiddle with the stereo more than the heater and this design makes it easier to operate. The buttons are small, which makes them difficult to operate with gloves on. I found myself frequently taking my eyes off the road to change stations and you have to hit a separate "set" button to set station buttons instead of just holding them down. The good news is that Dodge offers an in-dash four-disc CD changer, a brilliant design. Just shove the discs in; there's no need to go to the trunk and mess around with CD magazines.

The Intrepid comes standard with front bucket seats. They provide good back and lateral support and the detailing of the fabric is world class.

I wasn't entirely happy with the automatic climate control system that came as part of the $3,075 option package on our Intrepid; I frequently found myself overriding the automatic settings so I could stay warm on a 26-degree day. When I did that, however, it did a good job of warming the cabin.

As an average-sized driver, I found the Intrepid to be very comfortable. Tall drivers may run short on headroom and may be looking through the top part of the steeply raked windshield. Front and rear visibility isn't quite as good as it is in some of the more traditionally styled vehicles in this class. Driving Impressions
The Dodge Intrepid handles amazingly well for such a large sedan. Part of the secret lies deep in its body architecture. The chassis was designed with increased torsional rigidity, including an aluminum cross beam mounted behind the instrument panel. That extra stiffness translates into less body shake and roll, reduced noise, vibration and harshness, and improved handling and stability. Extensive use of aluminum helps minimize weight without sacrificing stiffness.

This is an easy car to drive and covering long distances in it is a pleasant experience. The seats are especially comfortable. Tires have been upgraded to 16 inches for the SE and ES models. The Intrepid comes with 16-inch steel wheels, with optional alloy wheels available for the ES. (The R/T model comes with 17-inch alloys.) The tires on our ES offered impressive grip. I was amazed at how well it handled snow and ice after a snowstorm that dumped six inches on the Washington, D.C., area. I even managed to cruise up several hills in deep snow.

The Intrepid ES comes with a 225-horsepower 3.2-liter V6. This all-aluminum engine was developed specifically for this family of sedans. It feels very powerful and sounds good under hard acceleration and delivers excellent acceleration performance, whether starting from a standstill or passing at high speeds. This engine is capable of propelling the Intrepid from 0 to 60 mph in the mid-eight-second range, which is quite quick for a big sedan. (We have not had an opportunity to drive the even more powerful R/T model.)

The transmission shifts effectively without hunting for the appropriate gear. It's also entertaining to pull it back a notch and use the AutoStick mode. This allows the driver to shift up by pushing the lever to the right or downshift by moving it toward the left.

Brakes are excellent, offering quick, stable stopping power at threshold. ABS is available and we recommend it as anti-lock brakes allow the driver to maintain steering control during emergency braking situations. ABS comes packaged with traction control ($600), which enhances driver control by reducing wheel spin under hard acceleration. The traction control system made the Intrepid easier to drive briskly on icy, snow-covered roads. Intrepid's quad beams provide brilliant illumination. Summary
With its powerful engine and stiff body structure, the Dodge Intrepid offers excellent handling and acceleration. It's smooth and quiet, until you stomp on the throttle. At the same time, there's plenty of room for passengers and cargo.

Model as tested
Intrepid ES ($22,605)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Destination charge
625
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
20910
Price as tested
27405
Options as tested
3.2-liter V6 ($500); ABS and traction control system ($600); Quick Order Package ($3,075 with discount) includes leather-trimmed bucket seats, automatic climate control, 240-watt AM/FM/cassette stereo with nine speakers and four-disc CD changer, universal garage door opener, power driver and passenger seats, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, auto day/night rear-view mirror, security alarm, theft deterrent system, full-size spare tire, trip computer

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Intrepid SE ($20,910); ES ($22,605);R/T ($24,975)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual airbags, child-seat anchors standard; front side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control system optional
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
3.2-liter sohc 24v V6
Transmissions
4-speed AutoStick automatic

Specifications as Tested
air conditioning, AM/FM/cassette stereo, power windows, power locks, cruise control; AutoStick transmission; fog lamps; aluminum wheels

Engine & Transmission
Engine
3.2-liter sohc 24v V6
Drivetrain type
front-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
225 @ 6300
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
19/28
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc with ABS
Suspension, front
Independent
Tires
P225/60R16
Suspension, rear
Independent

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
38.3/56.1/42.2
Head/hip/leg room, rear
37.4/56.6/39.1

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
18.4
Wheelbase
113.0
Length/width/height
203.7/74.7/55.9
Turning circle
37.6
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
1500
Track, front/rear
62.4/62.0
Ground clearance
5.1
Curb weight
3519


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