SEE ALSO: Dodge Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 17,800 Price As Tested $ 21,310 Engine Type DOHC 24-valve 2.7 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 165 cid/2700 cc Horsepower 200 @ 5900 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 192 @ 4300 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 108.0"/70.6"/191.2" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3327 pounds Fuel Capacity 16.3 gallons Tires (F/R) 205/65R15 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content 85 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 20/28/24 0-60 MPH 10.5 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 17.2 seconds @ 82.0 mph Top-speed 115 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
BRENDAN - Ever since I could remember, I've been a fan of American Muscle Cars, especially ones of the Mopar variety. A 1970 Hemi 'Cuda is the Dream Machine for me. It was, and still is, way out of my price range, but I vowed that one day I would own a Dodge or Plymouth classic. So sitting in my garage is a 1966 Dodge Dart sedan, and while it features a slower-than-slow Slant Six powerplant, it fills my need for vintage American iron. This week we tested a 2001 Dodge Stratus SE, a mid-level family car that hearkens back to my old '66 Slant Six in terms of being a family car, but also gives us a brief flash of that old Motor City power. It's not a match for the Stratus R/T Coupe that Dad and Matt wrote about a few weeks ago, but it's less expensive and more "family."
Mikele - I felt comfortable in the Stratus, especially when I was grinding through commuter traffic going to work. My back wasn't it's normal achy self and I guess I can give some thanks to the seat design. It has great front-seat lateral support and eight-way power adjustments. Our Stratus had room for five, which was a bonus when it was my turn to drive my co-workers to lunch. I love the ergonomic instrument panel, which gave me a clear view of the gauges, but the cup holders are hard to reach. Fortunately I don't drink coffee, so my commute isn't dependent on caffeine maintenance. But I really liked the sunroof because it gave me a chance to get some fresh air and sunshine when I finally broke out of the traffic crush. I didn't get a chance to appreciate the a/c system but when I checked it out, the controls seemed slightly out of the way. The SE model comes standard with a AM/FM stereo radio with cassette, but our car had a four-disc in-dash CD changer, which came in handy on long rides surrounded by typical horn-happy commuters. I could slip in some old favorites and zone out.
Brendan - Dodge is in the pro sports car and now the NASCAR racing scene, and I saw some racing influences in the new Stratus sedan, with its rounded roof line and sleek profile. Viper-inspired headlamps and technically-advanced four-wheel double wishbone suspension give the Stratus a sporty front end and exceptional handling. I wouldn't say the Stratus is ready to compete along side the new NASCAR Winston Cup version of the Dodge Intrepid, but it did a good job for me in the battle for traffic light pole-position on a couple of occasions. The optional 2.7-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 generates 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque, and while it's not a stump-puller, it does a pretty fair job. The standard Stratus model comes with an economical four-cylinder engine. There's no stick-shift available for the SE Stratus but the four-speed automatic worked fine and it's what's this kind of car was designed around - family transportation.
Mikele - Right, and safety is a big priority in a family car. The LATCH system of the child seat top tether and lower anchors helps owners correctly install aftermarket child seats, which is sometimes a hassle. The car has "Next Generation" multistage driver and front passenger air bags with levels of deployment that differ depending on vehicle impact speed and seat belt usage. A new standard 4-wheel disc brake system with optional ABS is a big plus and I think things like this should be required on all new cars and trucks.
Brendan - Although you're usually the one who talks about all the safety features, Mikele, I have to mention one of the Status' best items. An inside emergency trunk lid release just might save the day down the road for those who get in a little too deep while changing a taillight bulb.
Mikele - I've always thought the inside trunk-latch release was a somewhat pointless feature. But when I though long and hard, I realized it could be the best feature ever.
Brendan - Fortunately, I didn't test to see if I was too big to fit in the trunk. Only a moron would do that.
Mikele - I won't make a comment on that, Bren.