Dare we all remember the 440 Magnum power plant in these days of fuel economy and miserly performance? At the risk of sounding like the dinosaur I am, I have to admit there is something satisfying about seeing the term "Magnum" associated with a police car again!

A 3.5-liter Magnum V-6 powers Dodge's new Intrepid. Okay, so it's not a fire-breathing V-8 that shakes and shimmies at idle, but, this little V-6 puts out 242 HP at 6,400 rpm and is speed-limited to 137 mph. Maybe not fire-breathing but scorching nonetheless!

Surprisingly, this tops the horsepower rating for both the Ford V-8 and the Impala V-6. We didn't have a chance to drive the Intrepid yet (that will happen soon in the L.A. County Sheriff's testing) but if the specs don't lie, the Intrepid beat car should be a real performer.

"We are excited about being back in the police market," said Gerry Appie, Manager Fleet Engineering for Dodge. "We feel we have a superior product to offer and since it's built 100% in-house, we have control over everything," he continued.

This platform is designed with the working cop in mind. With today's high-technology applications in policework, many beat cars are turned into mobile offices, with computers, faxes, mobile data terminals, hi-tech lighting systems and even power outlets to run even more accessories. Dodge kept that in mind when they made a 160-amp high-output alternator standard equipment. It produces 120 amps at idle so there's no more watching your overhead lights slowly dim, flicker and die while on a traffic stop!

The Intrepid, while a front-wheel drive car, has a unique "north/south" engine arrangement. This places the transaxle behind the engine for better weight distribution and enhanced handling. Plus, there is no torque felt when steering under hard acceleration - a side effect on some transverse engine mounting systems.

But Is There Room?

"Every cop who has driven one has been impressed with the size of the interior," smiled Gerry. "With a cage in the car, you can slide the seat all the way back and still recline it slightly. There's ample leg room in the back for 'guests' and it helps to make it easier to get them in and out."

The trunk allows the spare to sit down, out of the way in the well, leaving lots of room for all the gadgets and gear that are a must today in the field.

The Best Magnum Yet?

From the severe-duty cooling system, external oil coolers, four-speed automatic with overdrive, calibrated 150-mph speedo, heavy-duty suspension full-sized spare to the 100-amp battery and ignition feeds (just to name a few goodies), the new Intrepid seems built to be tough.

POLICE Magazine will do a follow-up in the February issue after we get our sweaty palms on the steering wheel for a good run! This was just to whet your appetite.