2001 DODGE STRATUS COUPE SE
Used Car - 2001 Dodge Stratus Coupe SE in Hamilton, Oh
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2001 Dodge Stratus ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
R/T is a big performance coupe without a big price.
A totally new vehicle for 2001, the Dodge Stratus coupe features sleek styling with an aggressive personality. This mid-size two-door coupe replaces the Dodge Avenger, which is no longer available. However, the Stratus benefits from a stiff new platform and larger engines, including a 200-horsepower V6.
Behind its smooth exterior shell, the Dodge Stratus coupe provides a generous interior with genuine legroom in the rear seat, a rare quality for a two-door performance coupe.
Another rare trait for a performance coupe: Prices for the Dodge Stratus begin below $18,000.
Two trim levels are available for the Stratus coupe, SE and R/T.
Stratus SE ($17,810) comes equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and a choice between five-speed manual and optional four-speed automatic ($825).
Stratus R/T ($20,705) comes standard with a 3.0-liter single-cam V6, which delivers 200 horsepower. The V6 mates either to the standard five-speed manual or a four-speed AutoStick automatic ($825); AutoStick provides no-clutch shifter control.
Dodge makes the V6 available as an option for the Stratus SE ($800 for package 28B), which can keep the price tag for a V6-powered coupe below $20,000. Active safety equipment includes ABS ($565), available with the manual transmission, and ABS with Traction Control ($740), available with the automatic.
Standard equipment on the Stratus SE includes air conditioning and power windows, mirrors and door locks. The V6-powered R/T adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and premium sound system with cassette deck and CD player.
The Stratus coupe shares its name with the new Dodge Stratus four-door sedan. Though similar in appearance, the Stratus coupe and Stratus sedan ride on different chassis. The Stratus coupe is more closely related to the new Chrysler Sebring coupe and Mitsubishi Eclipse; all three share engines, chassis and suspension designs, and are built at a joint-venture assembly plant between Bloomington and Normal, Illinois.
The Stratus coupe's styling shows the effects of wind tunnel testing. The slick shape slices through the air with a clean sweep from nose to tail over the arched structure. Taut skin stretching across the broad and long package looks as smooth as flowing water. Interrupting the fluidity are flat side panels that seem to come from the NASCAR school of car design, with muscular shoulders bulging in back to suggest strength and action. The gracefully arched profile and dramatic windshield rake reflect styling cues from Dodge's flagship sedan, the Intrepid, while the stubby prow with body-colored grille in cross-hair pattern conveys a latent image of the racy Viper. Shapely curving rear pillars slide down into rolled rear flanks that become the muscular shoulders. In back the tail incorporates a spoiler lip bowed over bold corner lamps and the thick mass of a monotone bumper.
Safety systems in Stratus begin with the rigid structure that wraps around the passenger compartment. Four-wheel disc brakes with optional ABS and passive measures such as three-point seatbelts for all five seat positions and dual-stage frontal airbags improve safety further.
Generous passenger space comes from the coupe's architectural design, extending the windshield forward, abbreviating space for the engine, and increasing the length and width of the cabin. High-back bucket seats come standard in cloth fabric; R/T gets premium cloth. Optional leather seats are cushy and comfortable and offer six-way power adjustments; they come with the R/T's Leather Interior Group ($1045), which includes a HomeLink garage door system nicely integrated into the visors. Those visors are wider than the sharply raked windshield and are articulated on the end to allow them to bend around the A-pillar-not the ideal solution.
Unlike some sports coupes, Stratus has a chassis long enough to leave room in the backseat for adult riders. The rear bench seats three with folding seatbacks split 60/40 for access to the trunk. We crawled into the rear seat and found that long legs fit neatly -- even comfortably -- behind the driver's seat. Further, we could extract ourselves easily from that space because the front seat slides forward sufficiently to permit a quick exit. Few coupes provide such rear seat leg space, although Toyota's Solara beats it by more than an inch.
Trunk space is the best in this class, exceeding Japanese coupes by 3 cubic feet and the Ford Mustang by more than 5 cubic feet. It easily accommodated two medium-sized recycling bins.
But it's what's up front that counts for a sporty coupe. Tachometer and other instruments are tucked beneath a sporty bowed cowl with deep binnacles designed to shield the gauges from sunlight. Sculptured pods on either side of the center console create separate cockpit spaces for the driver and front passenger. From the driver's seat you can easily reach the shift lever and the window and lock switches mounted on the door. The handbrake lever is on spindly side.
Above the console is a central stack of audio and climate systems. The ventilation system uses basic rotary dials with plastic vents that feel a bit flimsy. Stereo controls are small, with sliders for bass and treble that can be difficult to operate on a bumpy highway. A display at the top of the dash provides compass heading and outside temperature readings-useful information on trips and when out and about.
The Stratus provides excellent outward visibility for the driver with broad, tall expanses of glass, and relatively narrow windshield pillars.
With its confident road manners, the Stratus creates a feeling of mechanical hardware working in harmony. Its ride quality is smooth, yet stiff enough to make the Sebring feel nimble in curves. It's quick to respond to steering input, deftly changing lanes.
Suspension components are the same for both SE and R/T editions, but the wheels and tires differ. SE has 16-inch wheels with P205/55HR16 tires; R/T uses 17-inch wheels with wider P215/50HR17 tires. The larger tires feel more aggressive when turning, and ultimately improve the coupe's agility.
Those suspension components include front MacPherson struts with lower A-arms. Shock tower bracing increases chassis rigidity. In back, upper A-arms combine with lower lateral and semi-trailing links and coil springs. Anti-roll bars, which reduce body lean in corners, are standard. Hard driving reveals the new front suspension design results in less precision when charging through a hard turn, but it provides better straight-line stability and a smoother ride quality. The tires offer good grip, but generate a hissing sound at highway speeds.
Stratus SE is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a single overhead cam, four valves per cylinder and sequential multi-point fuel injection. Output reaches to 147 horsepower (with a manual transmission, 142 with an automatic). That's good enough to beat the base engine in the Toyota Solara, and comes close to matching the power of Honda's Accord. The four-cylinder engine feels energetic through all the gears, but it works hard to do so. To maximize the power you must run the revs high, and it gets a bit noisy in the upper rev range.
Brisk acceleration performance is a big part of the attraction of the Stratus R/T. Its 3.0-liter single-cam V6 develops 200 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 205 foot-pounds of torque at just 4500 rpm. That's as much or more power than other V6 competitors. Nail the throttle and the R/T goes, whether starting from the gate or overtaking a slower car. When cruising, the engine produces a sporty exhaust note pleasing to enthusiasts. Overall, the Stratus R/T character is somewhere between a pony car (Camaro, Mustang) and a more refined Japanese coupe.
The standard five-speed manual is a short-throw stick that moves effortlessly fore and aft, with smooth clutch engagement and easy up-shifts. The optional four-speed automatic contains an adaptive controller tied to a computer that quickly learns a driver's habits and manipulates shift patterns to suit the driving style. Take it easy and this one interprets that style by shifting gently at relatively low engine speed. Stomp it and it stays in gear longer for better acceleration performance. Tackle a long downhill descent and it drops down a gear to add engine braking. With the AutoStick, you can slide the automatic shift lever into manual mode for shift-it-yourself entertainment without having to pump a clutch pedal.
The R/T comes with four-wheel disc brakes that bring it to a quick stop. Slam on the brakes and optional ABS steps in to prevent wheel lockup, helping you maintain steering control in an emergency braking maneuver. SE coupe comes with rear drum brakes, and ABS is not an option. Traction control, available on R/T automatics, is useful to reduce front wheel spin when accelerating on wet pavement.
Dodge Stratus coupe disguises a spacious passenger compartment behind a sleek facade.
The sporty Stratus R/T delivers V6 performance yet holds the bottom line to a reasonable number.
SE ($17,810); R/T ($20,705).
Options As Tested
ABS ($565); power sunroof ($685).
Stratus R/T ($20,705).Sporty coupe-like styling with four-door practicality.
Dodge has totally redesigned the mid-size Stratus sedan for 2001. With its sleek new shell and all-new interior, this four-door sedan shares only its name with last year's Stratus. It rolls on a stiff new platform and is powered by stronger engines, including a 200-horsepower V6.
This new mid-size sedan acts as sporty as a coupe. Better handling and improved road manners put the Stratus in the same league as the best-selling mid-size cars from Japan, the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord. In spite of the sleek styling, there's plenty of room inside for four people. And the bottom line is attractive.
Dodge splits the Stratus four-door sedan into two models: SE and ES.
Stratus SE ($17,830) is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with dual overhead cams that generates 150 horsepower. SE Sedan comes standard with a four-speed automatic transaxle.
Stratus ES ($20,465), the luxury version, provides a 2.7-liter dual-cam V6 rated at 200 horsepower. It comes standard with a four-speed automatic with AutoStick.
Several safety systems show up as optional gear for both models, such as ABS ($565) and side-curtain airbags ($390). The V6 may be added to the base Stratus SE for $850.
Appointments for Stratus SE include gear usually seen on the list of options, such as air conditioning, and power windows, mirrors and door locks. The V6-powered ES adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a premium sound system with CD player and other features.
(The Stratus label also applies to a new two-door Dodge Stratus coupe. Despite their shared name and styling, the coupe should not be confused with the sedan, as they do not share chassis, powertrains, or components. Instead, the Dodge Stratus sedan shares components with the new Chrysler Sebring sedan.).
Dodge's treatment for the four-door Stratus stretches long and wide over a taut package with fluid lines patterned after the slick two-door coupe.
The windshield initiates a graceful arch in profile that extends over sensuously shaped doors to merge thin rear roof pillars in a swoop to the high deck of a tail. That arching profile repeats design cues of other sedans in the Dodge fleet, while the stubby prow with body-colored grille in cross-hair pattern conveys an image of the racy Viper sports car. Flanking the grille, front corners carry multi-lens headlamps set above round fog lights.
Rolled side panels flare in rings around the wheelwells to draw attention to the large wheels. Above the beltline, blackened center roof pillars diminish definitions for doors and mimic the look of a pillar-less coupe.
Shapely back pillars slide down into the sedan's rear flanks to form shoulders of the high tail. At the rear a spoiler lip arches over large corner lamps and the thick mass of a monotone bumper.
The architectural design of the four-door Stratus carves out generous space for riders by extending the windshield forward to the firewall, increasing the length and width of the cabin, and abbreviating space for the engine.
Up front is a pair of high-back bucket seats clad in cloth fabric or optional leather. The rear bench seats three, with folding seatbacks split 60/40 for access to the trunk.
A dashboard collection of round analog instruments, tucked beneath an arched cowl and rimmed with black bezels, employs bold black-on-white graphics. Although the dashboard is flat and linear, there's a wrap-around feel to the cockpit.
From the driver's seat you can easily reach window and lock switches mounted on the door, or the center console housing the transmission shift lever and a padded armrest.
Above the console, stacked controls for audio and climate systems include large rotary dials in a simple scheme.
Due to the broad and tall expanses of window glass and relatively narrow windshield pillars, Stratus provides excellent outward visibility for the driver, which becomes a factor for safety.
Safety features begin with the rigid structure that encases the passenger compartment. Active devices include four-wheel disc brakes with optional ABS; passive measures include three-point seatbelts for all five seat positions and dual-stage frontal airbags. Also, the headliner has been engineered to accommodate curtain-style side airbags that are available as an option ($390).
The Stratus sedan surprised us with its competent road manners and the tight and precise way it functioned. We really liked the stiff yet smooth ride characteristics and discovered it could be downright nimble when steered through a set of curves, or quick to respond when prodded in the passing lane.
Our tests of a Stratus ES edition included a day of driving around Seattle through diverse urban and suburban venues, freeways, downtown streets with stop-and-go traffic, and residential roads winding along the shoreline of Lake Washington.
The V6 engine in the Stratus ES delivered spirited acceleration. Punch it and it goes, whether starting from the gate or overtaking a slower car. This engine, displacing 2.7 liters out of an aluminum block with dual overhead cams and multi-valve technology, delivers 200 horsepower but still earns respectable fuel economy figures. As a bonus, it runs on regular-grade gasoline.
The ES model's electronically controlled automatic four-speed transmission is quiet and efficient. It comes with AutoStick, allowing semi-automatic shifting for better control on winding roads and heavy traffic. Gear ratios for the transmission have been calibrated to produce quick getaways in stoplight derbies and typical stop-and-start in-town driving situations. It makes the Stratus feel more responsive for better freeway on-ramp merging.
We also drove the Stratus SE, which gets the Chrysler 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine carried forward from the predecessor Stratus sedan. Although this 147-horsepower engine musters less power than the V6, it still feels energetic through all the gears. But it's noisy, and to maximize the power you must run the revs high. Still, if the bottom line is a primary concern, this engine might be the best choice.
However, Dodge offers the V6 upgrade on Stratus SE for only $850, which pitches a comfortable mid-size sedan with V6 power for less than $20,000. With fuel economy numbers differing by only a single point per gallon between the two engines, that makes the V6 hard to resist.
Power steering for the Stratus uses a rack-and-pinion device, and it makes the car feel crisp and easy to control.
The Stratus rides smoothly. Its suspension is independent at all corners, with a short and long arm design in front and a multi-link setup in the rear. It feels stable even when dropping the right wheels off the pavement to feel an irregular shoulder. Anti-roll bars come standard to reduce body lean in corners.
Both trim levels use the same suspension components, but wheels and tires differ. The SE has 15-inch wheels, but the ES gets 16-inch wheels and rolls on more aggressive tires. The larger tires feel more stable when turning, and ultimately improve the car's agility.
The Dodge Stratus Sedan dresses a spacious and comfortable passenger compartment in sleek skin that hints at the sporty lines of a coupe. With V6 power and precise road manners, it compares in behavior to mid-size imports yet beats them in price. The top edition, Stratus ES, loads luxury gear aboard but still keeps a rein on the bottom line.
SE ($17,830); ES ($20,465).
Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Options As Tested
side-impact airbags ($390); leather seating and trim ($600); premium 120-watt audio system with six speakers ($350); Quick Order Package 28C ($850) includes rear passenger assist grips, premium headliner, front courtesy map lights, eight-way power driver's seat, dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors, trip computer.
Stratus ES ($20,465).