Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2004 Dodge Intrepid Overview
Room for All
Looking for a sedan that is fun to drive, has the looks to turn heads, yet can still fit you, the spouse and all the little tax deductions in complete and total comfort? Then check out the Dodge Intrepid, a classically large American road car with surprisingly lithe and agile road manners.
The Intrepid is the largest car in Dodge's fleet and it dwarfs cars like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord when it comes to rear seat legroom. In fact, when you look at the Intrepid's profile, the vast bulk of the car is dedicated to the passenger compartment, with the remaining portion divided between the short hood and even shorter rear deck. Despite what might appear to be a small trunk, the Intrepid's cargo hold is actually quite deep, restricted only by the small deck lid's somewhat narrow opening.
Beyond its copious legroom, the Intrepid's other attributes include a set of form-fitting front seats divided by a center console complete with a large storage area, armrest and dual cup holders that can actually hold something more than just a 12-oz. can. The Intrepid's stylish dash still looks fresh and is particularly attractive on the SXT that features white-faced gauges. The center stack contains easy to read and operate controls for the audio, heating and optional in-dash CD changer. At night, you'll find most of the controls are backlit, including the power window buttons. Taller drivers may find themselves looking through the tint band high atop the windshield; that's because the Intrepid's cab-forward styling places the front and rear pillars at steep angles flowing away from the passenger cabin. In the rear, this design places the passenger's head below the glass window as opposed to the padded roof liner.
Dodge offers the Intrepid in three trims: SE, ES and the high-performance SXT. While all three provide the same interior volume, they differ in both their appointments and power. The base SE is the value leader, allowing you to step into a comfortably equipped, V6-powered sedan for under $22k. A step up brings you to the plush ES, which receives a heavier dose of standard equipment and the more powerful 3.5-liter V6. Finally, there is the SXT, the predecessor to the now defunct R/T model. Along with its sport suspension and racy 16-inch alloy wheels, the SXT gets a high-output version of the 3.5-liter that pumps out 250 horsepower. While the SE's 2.7-liter V6 is definitely better than any small four-cylinder, it doesn't really have the strong pulling and passing power of the more potent 3.5, so if you can afford the few extra thousand, try and go for either the ES or the SXT.
The front-drive Intrepid displays remarkably balanced handling, even in its most basic form. Though the setup is a simple MacPherson strut front and transverse lower link rear, Dodge has tuned the spring and shock settings to return a smooth ride around town yet still allow for excellent feedback during spirited drives. The short hood makes cutting corners a breeze, though you need to remember there is a great deal of automobile being dragged around behind the driver's seat. Quick lane changes require multiple glances into the side mirrors to ensure the coast is clear. The steering response is tight and accurate, but the steering wheel can feel heavy at times, especially during quick back and forth maneuvering. Some people like a heavy wheel while others prefer more power assist. For our part, we think the Intrepid's steering is perfectly suited to the car's ability and size.
Of course, being a front-wheel-drive car, the Intrepid does have its limitations. Push the Intrepid to the absolute limits of what is considered prudent street driving and the front-wheels will break from the pavement and begin to plow. Once you reach this point, the optional electronic traction control steps in to take over, temporarily cutting off the fuel and applying the brakes until the car regains its composure.
Dodge offers a wide array of options that include a power sunroof, leather seating and side-impact airbags. Outside of what the dealer offers, the Intrepid's natural good looks make it a prime candidate for the aftermarket world. Slap on a set of wide 18-inch chrome wheels, a nice tint job and custom sound system, and you may just find yourself with the coolest ride on the block.