Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,100 – $6,500*

2001 Dodge Stratus ES 4-door sedan

2001 Dodge Stratus R/T 2-door coupe

2002 Dodge Stratus ES 4-door sedan

2002 Dodge Stratus R/T 2-door coupe

2003 Dodge Stratus 2-door coupe

  • Steering/handling
  • Acceleration (4-cyl)
  • Rear-seat comfort (coupe)
  • Rear-seat entry/exit (coupe)

Despite improvements in driveline smoothness and overall refinement, the latest Stratus sedans and coupes lack the polished feel of some import-brand rivals. Still, both body styles offer competitive value and sedans rank as sporty-feeling family carriers. Each model fulfills its mission, and the R/T appeals for its performance image.


Dodge’s midsize sedans and coupes were redesigned for 2001, with fresh styling, new V6 engines, and optional side-curtain airbags for sedans. Formerly known as the Dodge Avenger, the Stratus coupe shared its design with the similarly restyled Chrysler Sebring coupe. Both used powertrains and platforms derived from the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Galant.

Sedans again shared their Chrysler-bred design with the Chrysler Sebring sedan and convertible. No Stratus convertible was planned, however.

Despite all-new sheetmetal, styling was familiar. Exterior and interior dimensions changed little, though coupes were lighter by about 100 pounds and sedans heavier by a similar amount.

Sedans came in SE and ES trim. SE sedans retained a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Optional on those models, and standard on the ES, was a 2.7-liter V6 borrowed from the Dodge Intrepid. Both engines came only with a four-speed automatic transmission. ES models used Dodge’s AutoStick with a separate gate for manually-selected gear changes.

Stratus coupes came in SE and R/T models. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder was standard for SE coupes, with an optional 3.0-liter V6 that was new to the Stratus line. That engine also went into the performance-oriented R/T coupe. Both coupes used a five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic. R/T automatics incorporated Autostick.

Sedan powertrains were built by Chrysler, but coupe powertrains hailed from Mitsubishi and were shared with that company’s Eclipse and Galant.

Optional curtain-type airbags on sedans deploy from above the side windows and were designed to inflate in side collisions, protecting the upper body. No lower-body side airbags were offered. Antilock brakes were optional on all models except the SE coupe. Sedans had standard lower anchors for rear child seats, as well as an emergency release inside the trunk.

Wheel diameter on sedans increased by an inch. Chrysler said new headlamps on coupes and sedans were 25-percent brighter than before, adding that thicker front door glass improved sound insulation. Competitors included the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry/Solara, and Chevrolet Malibu.

Yearly Updates

2002 Stratus
Little changed for either the Stratus coupe or sedan in 2002, but a sporty new R/T sedan joined the R/T coupe during the model year. The R/T could get Chrysler’s AutoStick automatic transmission, with a shift gate for manually selected gear changes.
2003 Stratus
Coupes earned revised styling this year, for both front and rear. Interior changes included a new dashboard and door panels, and front side airbags were available in coupes for the first time. For 2003, the ES sedan’s alloy wheels switched to a chrome finish. Coupes came in SXT and sporty R/T trim levels, while sedans were offered in SE, SXT, S and R/T trim.
2004 Stratus
Stratus saw no major changes for 2005. Sedans got revised front styling that mimicked the changes to the coupes in 2003.
2005 Stratus
No changes were made this year. Note that coupe production is scheduled to end during the 2005 model year.
2006 Stratus
Dodge’s midsize car drops its coupe body style for 2006.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Like their Sebring cousins, Dodge’s Stratus had different engine choices for coupes and sedans. A 147-horsepower four-cylinder went into SE and SXT coupes, while R/T coupes used a 200-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 that was also an option for the SE. Sedans in SE trim got a 150-hp four-cylinder engine, while the ES sedan held a 2.7-liter V6 that produced 200 hp. That engine was optional for SE sedans. Four-cylinders came only with an automatic transmission, but other models might have either five-speed manual shift or a four-speed automatic.

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
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/148
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 167
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.7/167
Engine HP 200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 192
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 205
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

The new V6 engines used in Stratus and its Sebring cousins took a clear step forward in both power and refinement. The Chrysler-made 2.7-liter in sedans feels markedly smoother than the coupe’s Mitsubishi 3.0–though not quite as quick. Compared to domestic and import rivals with larger V6s, any V6 Stratus has acceleration that’s easily adequate for most needs. Quickest of the lot, the R/T with manual shift could reach 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. Four-cylinder models are noisier and slower, even though both 2.4-liters are an improvement over their predecessors.

Regardless of engine, automatic transmission performance is improved, with smoother upshifts and reasonably prompt downshifts. Optional Autostick is a welcome addition to coupe models, and the Stratus ES, somewhat improving throttle responses. Sedans with V6 engines have averaged 17.5 to 18.3 mpg, while an R/T coupe with stick shift averaged 19.2 mpg. Manual gearboxes, though, fail to match the imports for mechanical smoothness.

Uplevel models handle noticeably better than base cars, with little penalty in ride quality. All feel competent on twisty roads, with better grip and less body lean than a Camry, and comfortably absorb most bumps. Coupes are slightly more nimble than the sedans, but don’t filter out bad pavement as well. Low-profile 17-inch tires and a firmer suspension make the R/T feel agitated on all but smooth pavement.

Steering feedback is good, but four-cylinder versions have excessive power assistance. Stopping power with ABS is a high point, feeling sure and stable, with good pedal modulation. No Stratus suppresses tire noise completely.

Overall refinement still isn’t up to that of Japanese-brand rivals, but these cars are fairly quiet. Drivetrain vibration is greatly reduced from the previous generation. Suppression of wind noise is admirable.

Stratus sedans have airy, uncommonly roomy interiors for their exterior size, despite a slight loss of rear head clearance compared to prior models. With only a little squeezing, three adults can fit in the sedan’s back seat. They’ll enjoy generous leg room, but head space is a tad snug. Coupes have three rear seatbelts, but even two adults will feel crowded, the seat cushion is uncomfortably low, and seatbacks recline too much.

Sedan gauges are clear and readable, but until 2003, coupe instruments echo the gimmicky design in Mitsubishi two-doors and coupe drivers sit low to the floor.

Getting in or out of the sedans is easy, but a low roofline hampers entry/exit to the coupes’ front seat and limits head room for taller folks. Interference from the front seatbelts worsens getting into the back. Cargo space is average for the class, though coupe trunklid hinges dip into the luggage bay. Interior storage is adequate in two-door models.


Model Tested: 2002 Dodge Stratus ES sedan

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.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 5


Value - 6

Total: 50


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)
108.0 191.2 70.6 54.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.0 16.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.6 35.8 42.3 38.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Brake noise
Description: The brakes may squeak on coupes with 3.0L engine and 15-inch brakes and is repaired with revised brake-caliper mounting brackets. (2001-03)
Dashboard lights
Description: The powertrain computer may mistakenly detect engine misfires and illuminate the check-engine light. The computer should be reprogrammed. (2001) Sedans should get spark plugs with a hotter heat range installed as well. (2002)
Audio system
Description: If the radio, instrument or trip computer lights flicker when the turn signals or high beams are switched on, the multifunction (turn-signal stalk) switch may be bad. (2001-02)
Suspension noise
Description: The rear suspension makes a popping and squawking noise on the sedan that is corrected by replacing the upper control arms with revised ones. (2001)
Electrical problem
Description: An intermittent short in the dome light switch blows fuses that protect the radio, dome light, courtesy light, vanity mirrors, remote keyless entry and the compass and clock on the coupe. (2001-02)

Recall History

Description: Defective passenger airbags could separate in an accident. Dealers will replace the passenger airbag.
Description: Incorrect driver-seat mounting bolts may cause result in driver injury in an accident. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: Smoke or burning smell might come from map lights due to contact with insulation material. Dealers will remove insulation material in affected vehicles.
Description: Steering-gear assembly nut may not be properly tightened causing loss of steering control. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: Some owner’s manuals are missing instructions for installing child seats. Owners will be provided with an addendum to the owners manual.
2001 w/automatic transmission
Description: Defective transaxle cooler hoses could lead to transmission-fluid leak. Smoke and drivability problems could result. Dealers will replace the cooler hoses.
Description: Fuel return hose does not contain the desired ozone protection. Dealers will replace the fuel return hose.
Description: Harness for crankshaft position sensor could contact new protective shield; prolonged contact could erode insulation and create short circuit that might result in engine die-out.
2004 Coupe
Description: Fuel return hose fitting on electric fuel pump may be improperly molded; could result in fuel leakage and possible fire.
2005 Sedan
Description: Rear outboard retractor and turning loop bolts on seat belts may not have been properly tightened.
2005 Sedan
Description: Right steering knuckle could crack and separate from upper control arm.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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