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Dodge

Dodge Stratus SE (2001)

SEE ALSO: Dodge Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin

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.