Where can I research the reliability of the Dodge Intrepid I'm considering buying?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm Jack, an 82 year old "geezer" who needs your help. Knowing how much you two brothers love and admire one another, I feel I can rely on both of you for sage advice. I've had it in mind to buy a Dodge Intrepid based on the glowing reports in automotive magazines. But lately it seems there is some doubt as to the lasting quality of the car. Can you please share a portion of your expert knowledge with me? I can't afford to make a mistake at my age. At present, I'm driving a Mercury Sable, which has been a pretty good car. Will appreciate any comments.

TOM: First of all, Jack, when you talk about "glowing" reports in the magazines, it's important to remember that each of the magazines represents a particular point of view. Car and Driver only cares about how fast the car goes. Automobile Magazine wants to know how much fun it is to drive. Consumer Reports' specialty is repair history and how many ping pong balls fit in the trunk. And Motor Trend seems to base its opinions on how much the car company spends on advertising in their magazine. So remember, every review you read, including ours, is just "part of the story."

RAY: Having said that, my opinion is that the Dodge Intrepid IS a pretty nice car to drive. It's comfortable, roomy, it handles well and accelerates quickly. But there have been quite a few complaints--not about the "lasting" quality--but about the INITIAL quality of the car. The car has only been out for three years, and already the cars have needed more than the average number of repairs.

TOM: Consumer Reports, in its April 1995 issue, removed the Intrepid from its list of recommended cars for just this reason. And our anecdotal information suggests they're right to be concerned.

RAY: But bear in mind that this car is not a Yugo... or a 1980s Chrysler. It's not going to fall apart the minute you get it home and park it in the driveway. Cars, in general, are much better than they've ever been, and this car is no exception.

TOM: And Chrysler claims they are already addressing the quality problems (what did you expect them to say: "Oh yeah? You think those Intrepids were bad, wait til you see how bad we make 'em now!"). The problem is, we won't really know whether they've addressed the quality problems for a couple of years. So if you have the hots for this car, Jack, you have to be willing to do two things.

RAY: First, you have to buy the extended warranty, just in case Chrysler hasn't really fixed the quality problems yet. Plus, you have to be willing to take the car back to the dealership for service more often than you might like.

TOM: Some people find that terribly inconvenient. But being a retired old "geezer," this may be just what you're looking for. A regular trip to the dealership may be an eagerly anticipated activity....the equivalent of a night out on the town! You might even be able to get into a monthly card game with the guys at the service desk.

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