The cars we loved.
By 1994 when the second generation Intrepid was introduced, advanced in CAD yielded one of the first completely computer designed cars. A point Chrysler stressed in the Intrepid’s advertising (this was also a major selling point early in the second generation Neon’s ad campaign). The Dodge people had a lot to brag about. The new design was one of the most beautiful full size and designs available. By managing to be roomy, sporty and provide good handling, the car became a favorite with the motoring press and the public.
It initially came in two model designations with two all new aluminum V6 engines. The Base used a DOHC 2.7 200hp engine while the loaded ES featured a SOHC 3.2 L 225 hp engine.
Unfortunately the car developed a bad reputation due to an oil sludge problem that developed in many early examples. It was enough to damage the car’s reputation, instantly making it the darling to the Buy-Here-Pay-Here lots.
Dodge made some refinements to the power-plants while introducing a new top of the line variant in 2000 called the R/T with a 242 hp 3.5 L V6. The old 3.2 became an option on the ES. Dodge continued the confusion with yet another variation dubbed SXT, now with an even more powerful 250 hp 3.5 L. All these increases in horsepower seemed to coincide with Dodge’s entrance to NASCAR.
Sales gradually fell with the car silently becoming fodder for police and rental car fleets. Even though the Intrepid was a well designed and engineered car, it never seemed to beat the rap of it’s oil sludge problem. By late in it’s life it was already showing up as a badly abused third owner used car, further damaging it’s resale value. That’s a shame because the big brash rear wheel drive cars that replaced it were not immediately attractive, although they may have been better engineered.