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Dodge Stratus R/T (2002)

SEE ALSO: Dodge Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 18,966
     Price As Tested                                    $ 21,200
     Engine Type              SOHC 24-valve 3.5 Liter v6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 215 cid/3518 cc
     Horsepower                                   244 @ 6400 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               250 @ 3950 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  113.0"/74.7"/203.7"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3584 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  17.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          P225/55R17 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 XX percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.30


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            XX/XX/XX
     0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                                  16.0 @ 87.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           135 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - Recently my dad and my brother recently tested the Dodge Stratus with the four-banger engine but this R/T is the one they should have had. It's a little more expensive but what a difference! Dodge has been at the forefront of cutting edge design for the past 10 years or so, from the aggressive Viper to the brutish Ram trucks. So when the opportunity to review one of their new hot models arrives, we like to take advantage of it. Its Intrepid S/T has been in production since 1993, and this week we review the 2002 model. While it's not so different from the 2001 version, it's different enough that it can be called new. The Intrepid S/T strives to be a sport sedan that fits five to six passengers, and although it's ES and SE models succeed on most accounts, it's the R/T that really packs a wallop. A 3.5 liter 244-horsepower V6 engine is featured in the R/T model, compared with the SE at 200 ponies and the ES with 234. That extra bit really makes a difference, basically making the R/T Dodge's modern day muscle car interpretation. Further proof of Intrepid's muscle car roots is that when Dodge decided to re-enter NASCAR Winston Cup racing they chose the Intrepid R/T to represent the brand. That says a lot since the company hasn't been involved in the Winston Cup for many decades.

MIKELE - My Dad wouldn't be caught in a Mopar, being he is a tried and true GM man, but if we could just get him to try one of these babies on the road, he might possibly change his tune. The R/T's engine is backed up by a dual-mode AutoStick transaxle that lets the driver choose between the control of a manual gearbox and the convenience of an automatic. It also has a performance-tuned exhaust system that gives it a muscle car sound. The interior has all the standard stuff, like cupholders, air conditioning, a moon roof, and a 12-volt power outlet with a tethered cap that can't get lost, but it also has tilt steering and power windows with one-touch operation of the drivers side, something I think all cars should have. I hate having to keep my finger on the control switch when I'm crossing a toll bridge and fumbling for bills with the other. It also has a CD player, eight-way power front bucket seats with manual lumbar support, and a 60/40 rear split rear seat with a center armrest and two cupholders. That's a bundle of goodies that make the interior of the Intrepid R/T a good deal.

BRENDAN - The Intrepid is loaded with safety items too, Mikele. It doesn't skimp, and it has brake-shift and park-ignition interlocks, rear child protection door locks, three-point shoulder belts for all passengers, remote keyless entry, and both driver's and front passenger air bags really are the latest in safety features.

MIKELE - We've neglected reviewing the exterior of the R/T, Bren. The new year-model has two new colors in the lineup, Onyx Green, and Light Pearl Metallic. I'd prefer Inferno Red though, because red always makes you look like your going faster and gets you noticed. Its 17-inch, five-spoke chromed aluminum wheels make it look hot and it has a full-size spare tire, so you can drive over 50 if you have to use it. Unfortunately it's steel and not a match for the other four wheels that are on the ground so you can't use it as part of a full five-tire rotation. The Intrepid cab-forward design is aging now, but it's still a thing of beauty, and it has a sleekness usually found in wild prototypes that never make it to production.

BRENDAN - I'll agree with you that it is a sleek-looking car Mikele, and it's interior is nice. The Intrepid also has a very large trunk, so it would be ideal for picking up both of your grandmothers at the airport. It's always amazed me that they always bring back lots more stuff than they start with when they travel.

MIKELE - You know darn well that it's usually presents for us, so stop complaining.