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New Car/Review


Dodge Stratus R/T Coupe (2001)

SEE ALSO: Dodge Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 20,705
     Price As Tested                                    $ 24,750
     Engine Type              SOHC 12-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 181 cid/2972 cc
     Horsepower                                   200 @ 5500 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               205 @ 4500 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  103.7"/70.3"/190.2"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3279 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  16.3 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                     P215/50HR17 AS performance
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Fount-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Five-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                 61 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            19/27/22          
     0-60 MPH                                        8.1 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          16.1 seconds @ 89.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           134 mph
                * Sequential multi-point fuel injection

(Matt Hagin points out that the "R/T" on the Dodge Stratus Coupe stands for Road and Track. Bob Hagin counters that many of them will be seen on the road but he doubts that many will see a track of any kind.)

BOB - Dodge used to be a very big name in Muscle Cars and NASCAR racing in the late '60s, Matt. Its Coronets and Chargers that carried the R/T logo were imbued with lots of cubic-inch V8 steroids and wound up with over 400 horses in many cases. Their external cosmetics were pretty bizarre and included bumblebee strips on the trunk. Dodge was also a heavy-hitter on the NASCAR stock car tracks and its R/Ts probably won almost as many races as they lost.

MATT - The R/T designation on the Stratus coupe that we're evaluating is strictly symbolic and is used to identify Dodge vehicles that are a cut above their more plebeian siblings. There's an R/T Stratus Sedan as well as an R/T Neon and several other vehicles in the Dodge lineup. Interestingly, the Stratus Coupe is a entirely different car from the Stratus Sedan models. The have different V6 engines and are carried on different chassis platforms. Our R/T Coupe model uses a single-overhead-cam 3.0-liter V6 engine that's new this year. It puts out 200 horses which is up 37 horses over last year's version. It's available with a five-speed stick-shift transmission that's pretty slick, I'm told, but the one that we checked out carried a four-speed automatic. It's not as "sporting" as a manual transmission but it's lots easier to drive around in the hilly downtown areas of San Francisco. Those kinds of traffic challenges lead to a first-name basis between the driver and the technician who has to replace those stick-shift clutches.

BOB - Although it's getting to be old stuff now, the Autostick on the Stratus Coupe R/T automatic is a pretty good trade-off between the "purest" manual gearbox and the laid-back automatic. It lets those urban San Francisco drivers do some driver-interactive up-and-down gear changes once they get out of town and onto some back-country twisting roads. The suspension on the R/T Stratus Coupe is a couple of notches up from the plain-John version and the upscale R215/50HR tires add to the ability of the car to stayed glued to the road as well as it does. And its polished aluminum 17-inch wheels have some additional cosmetic appeal.

MATT - The body of the '01 Stratus Coupe has been altered considerably too. It's very "swoopy" with a high tail section, a high waistline and a relatively shallow greenhouse. It's not a family- oriented vehicle and wasn't designed to transport the whole family to Grandma's house or for a picnic in the park. There's a amazing amount of room inside the car once you get ensconced inside but it's something of a hassle climbing into and out of the car. But then a sport coupe by definition is more of a fashion and attitude statement for the driver that a strictly utilitarian machine. There's a pass-through between the trunk and the passenger compartment that can help in carrying long items and the trunk is big enough to stow stuff like skis, snowboards and mountain bikes. These are the objects mentioned in the Stratus R/T promotional material sent out by the factory and it exemplifies the buying population that Dodge is targeting for the car. Young, "boppy" and not in need of a vehicle to tote home a couple of bags or fertilizer for a weekend gardening project.

BOB - The driver's and front passenger's bucket seats are pretty comfortable and have a surprising amount of side bolstering even up their sides to support your shoulders. The car had the Customer Preferred Package which added leather upholstery and a six-way adjustable seat for the driver but the passenger is relegated to simply moving that seat forward and back. The sound system has an in-dash four-disk CD changer as well as all the other bells-and-whistles. The Stratus R/T is a vehicle for today's sporty driver but it can't match those old Muscle Cars that Dodge used to put out.

MATT- Good thing, too. Those old timers were fun for a few miles but they were ticket-magnets and drove like very fast trucks.