Introduced in the mid-'90s, the Dodge Stratus was a replacement for the aging and boxy Spirit. It was one of three sedans based on Chrysler's "JA" platform, including the Plymouth Breeze and Chrysler Cirrus. Among these triplets, the Stratus was touted as the sportiest, and it took the role as the midsize car in Dodge's lineup.
The first-generation Dodge Stratus was known mostly for its sharp styling, roomy interior and value. Dodge followed it up with a redesigned model for the start of the new millennium that featured additional safety equipment and a more powerful V6 engine. A coupe model also debuted.
The Stratus had a decent run but ultimately never achieved the superstar status that Dodge had hoped for. In terms of refinement, build quality and reputation for reliability, it couldn't match top import models. Production ended after the second generation. As a used sedan or coupe, the Stratus is a fair choice. Consumers prioritizing price or exterior styling might find it worth a look.
Most Recent Dodge Stratus
The second and last generation of the Dodge Stratus covered model years 2001-'06. Sedan and coupe body styles were offered. Mechanically, there is a fair amount of difference between the two. The Stratus coupe (formerly known as the Avenger) was actually based on the Mitsubishi Eclipse of the time and differed from its Japanese cousin mainly in its sheet metal. The Stratus sedan was still a Chrysler design.
A large trunk and fairly roomy interior, thanks to Chrysler's "Cab Forward" design philosophy, were two of the Stratus sedan's strong points. Another was the car's handling -- it felt sportier than many other mid-priced, midsize sedans of the time. Even so, most used Stratus shoppers will likely be attracted mainly by the price, as the cars haven't really held their value the way Japanese sedans of the same size would. The Stratus coupe could be a good buy for someone who wants a comfy, V6-powered coupe as opposed to a small, high-strung sports car.
In general, coupes were available in base SXT and sporty R/T versions. Sedans came in base SE, midgrade SXT, luxury-oriented ES and R/T guise. Stratus coupes were powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 producing 147 horsepower; R/T versions had a 3.0-liter V6 rated at 200 ponies. Both engines could be had with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
The sedans had Chrysler engines. Some models were fitted with a 150-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, but most had a 200-hp 2.7-liter V6. All sedans came with a four-speed automatic transmission.
Past Dodge Stratus Models
The first generation Dodge Stratus was available from 1995-2000. The sedan (there was no coupe) was originally offered in two trim levels: base and slightly more luxurious ES. Base models had a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine making 132 hp. Optional was a larger 2.4-liter making 150 hp. For the ES, Dodge offered a 168-hp, 2.5-liter V6.
There were no major changes to this generation, so potential buyers shouldn't feel a need to focus on any particular year. At the time, the Stratus earned high marks for its edgy styling and larger-than-expected interior and trunk.