Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,100 – $2,600*


1995 Dodge Stratus ES


1995 Dodge Stratus ES


1996 Dodge Stratus


1997 Dodge Stratus


1997 Dodge Stratus

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes (ES)
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Noise
  • Rear visibility

Overall, the large, comfortable interior; moderate price; and attractive styling make the well-equipped Stratus a good buy. Our only reservation might be Chrysler’s past reputation for poor build quality.

Overview

Introduced early in 1995, Stratus is a close cousin of the more luxury-oriented Chrysler Cirrus and the less costly Plymouth Breeze. All three sedans sported unique grilles and different taillights, and Stratus offers a wider engine selection than its mates. Marketed in base and ES trim, Stratus sedans came with standard antilock brakes and dual airbags. Base powertrain was 132-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 5-speed manual transmission. Optional was a new 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with dual overhead camshafts. Also optional, but only on the sportier ES model, was a Mitsubishi-built 2.5-liter V6. Both optional engines drove only a 4-speed automatic transmission, which was not available at all with the base 4-cylinder engine.

Yearly Updates

1996 Stratus
Few changes appeared this year. A power sunroof became available later in the year, but didn’t last long. Also later in the season, a V6 Stratus could be equipped with Chrysler’s Autostick transmission, permitting shifting up or down through the gears by tilting the shift lever to the left or right.
1997 Stratus
Stratus entered its third season with little change, apart from a new floor console between the front seats.
1998 Stratus
In a cost-cutting move, antilock brakes were made optional on both models. Sound insulation was beefed up, and a sunroof was again available on all models.
1999 Stratus
Stratus got a revised suspension designed to increase ride comfort and standard 4-wheel antilock brakes. Also available were new alloy wheels and a power driver seat.
2000 Stratus
A new base model called SE joined the Stratus lineup. With automatic transmission, the SE sedan included the previously optional 150-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. Manual-shift models got a 132-horsepower engine instead. Newly optional was an emergency escape release inside the trunk.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Only 5-speed manual shift was offered with the Neon-originated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Both optional engines, the 2.4-liter dual-overhead-cam four and the Mitsubishi-built 2.5-liter V6, came only with a 4-speed automatic transmission.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 132
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 129
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

25/36

24.7

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/143
Engine HP 147
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 158
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
22/30
20/30
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/148
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 165-167
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/29

20.3

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 164-168
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 161-170
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/28

Road Test

Although Stratus has the exterior dimensions of a compact car, it offers the interior room of a midsize model. In fact, there’s plenty of leg space fore and aft, and sufficient rear-seat width for three medium-size adults to travel without feeling like sardines.

Visibility is great to all angles except the rear. The high rear parcel shelf makes it hard to see out the back window. A large trunk with a flat floor and low liftover gives the Stratus good cargo-carrying ability. The driving position is comfortable, and the dashboard layout logical. The sedan’s abundant, airy interior is well-designed; however, some trim pieces on the dashboard and door panels look and feel cheap.

Of the several engine choices, we recommend the V6s for their smoother running and livelier acceleration. It’s not the quietest engine around, but the 2.5-liter V6 takes off from a standstill with spirit. However, you’re likely to experience a long pause before the automatic transmission downshifts for passing. Despite being shy two cylinders, the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder offers nearly as much punch as the V6, though at the expense of some refinement. The 2.0-liter four is noisier and a trifle slower, but gets great mileage with the 5-speed manual.

Stratus rides and handles more like a sports sedan than a typical American car. That means more interior noise and road vibrations than people may be used to. You benefit from agile handling with little body lean and good grip, making it easy to thread along twisting roads. An ES, in particular, takes corners and curves adeptly. Ride comfort is generally good on both models, despite the firmer suspension on the ES, and the Stratus does feel smoother than a Ford Contour.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Dodge Stratus ES 2.0-liter 5-speed

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 3
30%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 45

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.7 190.2 70.3 53.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.3 16.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.5 36.0 42.3 34.0
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.0 186.0 71.7 54.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.7 16.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.1 36.8 42.3 37.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Stratus 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Rear Passenger Injury - 2
40%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 96
Injury 115
Theft 96

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: Air conditioning compressor fails on cars with 2.5-liter engine. (1995-96)
Air conditioner
Description: Air conditioning may be intermittent or stop due to failed pressure transducer. (1995)
Automatic transmission
Description: Transmission may shudder when accelerating from a stop, thump when coasting down to a stop, or slip when shifting. (1995)
Brake wear
Description: Pulling to left when braking plus premature wear of the left front brake pad and right rear brake shoes caused by overheated brake fluid because brake line is too close to exhaust pipe. (See also: recalls) (1998-00)
Oil leak
Description: Oil leak from gallery plug(s) on the 2.7-liter V6 can be fixed by adding an additional plug. (2001-02)
Steering noise
Description: A bad pinch bolt on the coupling between the steering intermediate and gear shafts may cause clunking or rattling noise in the steering column. (1996-00)
Water leak
Description: Water leaks in between the door and interior door trim panel or from the cowl/plenum/floor/A-pillar seams. (1995-96)
Headlights
Description: Poor illumination from headlights corrected by replacing both headlamp modules. (1996-97)

Recall History

1995
Description: Rear-seatbelt anchors will not withstand loading required by federal standard.
1995-96 w/ABS
Description: Corrosion of ABS hydraulic control unit can cause solenoid valves to stick open, so car tends to pull from a straight stop when brakes are applied.
1995-96
Description: Brake master cylinder can leak fluid, due to damaged seal; warning light will signal impairment prior to partial brake-system loss.
1995-96 w/2.4-liter
Description: Oil leakage could cause engine-compartment fire.
1995-97
Description: Lower ball joint can separate due to loss of lubrication; could cause loss of control.
1995-98 w/automatic transmission
Description: If operator presses button to shift out of Park with key in locked position, pin can break; “ignition-park” interlock would then be nonfunctional.
1996-97
Description: Secondary hood latch spring can disengage if hood is slammed.
1998-99
Description: Right rear brake tube can contact exhaust system clamp and wear a hole in it; tube could then leak, reducing braking effectiveness.
2000
Description: Incorrect child lock instruction label could cause confusion as to whether the childproof safety lock was activated.
2000
Description: The right front-brake tube may get damaged.
2000
Description: Some of the owner’s manuals for these vehicles are missing instructions for properly attaching a child restraint system’s tether strap to the tether anchorage.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.