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HomeHybrid Cars1991 Dodge Stealth ES Is a Not-So-Stealthy Looker

1991 Dodge Stealth ES Is a Not-So-Stealthy Looker

From the May 1991 issue of Car and Driver.

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Fire trucks are stealthy compared with this Dodge. And ambulances. Vise-Grips won’t grab a bystander’s gaze any harder. You have a better chance of passing un­noticed on a parade float.

On the head-turns-per-dollar poll, the misnamed Stealth wins big. Chrysler styl­ing is into the wide-body mode these days—witness the upcoming Viper. The wider the body, the lower it looks. And the more room there is for voluptuous scoops and sculpts without notching into the passengers’ elbowroom. The Stealth carries this idea to arresting lengths.

But forgetting the sculpting for a minute, this Mitsubishi-built, Chrysler-designed shape makes a statement with its basic dimensions. At 72.4 inches, it’s exactly Camaro wide but more than a foot (13.5 inches) shorter. And 1.3 inch­es lower. The result is striking proportions quite close in size to those of the Porsche 928S4.

Like the 928, this Dodge’s interior is pure 2+2, and the +2 had better be kids. Or briefcases.

The Stealth to die for, called the R/T Turbo, packs a 300-horsepower twin­-turbocharged and intercooled V-6 en­gine, four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer­ing, and anti-lock brakes, not to mention a handful of gee-whiz items like switch­able shock absorbers and a now-you­hear-it, now-you-don’t exhaust system. The window sticker runs to $29,610–$30,877 if you opt for leather and a com­pact-disc player.

1991 dodge stealth es

Dick Kelley|Car and Driver

Naturally, when you lay out that kind of money, your heart cracks a little every time your neighbor says, «Yeah, someone down at the office has one just like it.» Chances are it’s not just like the R/T Turbo, but Dodge is intent on filling every pool with low-priced replicas. Well, low-priced if $16,636 and up qualifies. Because the well-endowed R/T Turbo is at the top of a four-tier Stealth line that starts with a no-suffix Stealth at the price above, moves to the Stealth ES on this page at $18,399, then to the Stealth R/T at $24,498. None of these looks exactly the same as the Turbo (although the R/T differs only in wheels and tires—sixteen-­inchers instead of the Turbo’s seven­teens), but they’re too close for comfort if you’re signed up for 72-month paper on the real thing. This is the bad news.

The good news is that the one-rung­-up-from-the-bottom Stealth ES is a pret­ty sweet machine, although it too quickly migrates up the price ladder if you’re un­able to just say no to the option sheet. Our test car rang up $23,279 on the cash register, thanks to a four-speed automat­ic ($813), air conditioning ($846), and Option Group F ($3221), which includes power locks and windows, cruise control, a rear-window washer and wiper, a CD player, anti-lock brakes, a security alarm, electronically controlled shock absorb­ers, and floor mats.

1991 dodge stealth es

Dick Kelley|Car and Driver

1991 dodge stealth es

Dick Kelley|Car and Driver

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The ES, with its 24-valve V-6 (222 hp at 6000 rpm) and 225/55VR-l6 Good­year gatorbacks on eight-inch-wide alloy wheels, easily rises above the average person’s needs. And the sight of it as you ap­proach in the parking lot always revs the spirit. Yet the car is quite tame on the road, even refined. Interior sound is muted, the engine is relaxed in its pairing with the four-speed automatic and, so long as you don’t bump the suspension switch into Sport, the ride is merely con­trolled. Just touch that rocker, though, and the motions can get nasty.

You don’t need the hard ride to be re­minded of the Stealth’s sporting attitude. The moderately buckety seats with a clever, infinitely adjustable driver-side lumbar support set the mood, reaffirmed by the large, round instruments right where you can see them. The fifteen-inch leather-wrapped steering wheel seems a bit larger in diameter than is appropriate for a sporting car, but its rim never blocks the gauges, even if its air-bag-stuffed hub does obscure a few dashboard switches. Both the shapes and the textures of the surrounding upholstery bespeak high fashion.

1991 dodge stealth es

Dick Kelley|Car and Driver

We have a few gripes, of course. The automatic has a console switch for Power or Economy operation, as well as a lever­-mounted switch for locking out top gear. These days, automatic transmissions should be smart enough to do the right thing without extra switches. That’s why they’re called «automatic,» after all. An­other gripe: the lighter socket is located on the console in such a way that a radar­-detector cord tangles the shift lever. The R/T and the R/T Turbo have an addi­tional «accessory» socket in a better loca­tion. C’mon. Any car with arrest-me looks should be detector-friendly.

Notice that we’re back to looks again. Every discussion of this car starts with its looks and inevitably loops back again and again. Let the record show that the Stealth ES is very good at what used to be called grand touring—quick and effort­less transit for two—and even better for grand entrances.

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1991 Dodge Stealth ES
Vehicle Type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 3-door coupe


Base/As Tested: $18,399/$23,279

DOHC 24-valve V-6, iron block and aluminum heads, port fuel injection

Displacement: 181 in3, 2972 cm3

Power: 222 hp @ 6000 rpm 

4-speed automatic 


Wheelbase: 97.2 in

Length: 179.1 in
Curb Weight: 3666 lb


60 mph: 8.5 sec

1/4-Mile: 16.4 sec @ 87 mph
100 mph: 22.4 sec

Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 8.5 sec

Top Speed: 130 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 166 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.87 g 


Observed: 21 mpg

City: 18 mpg 


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