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Cheap Wheels: 2001-2005 Dodge Stratus R/T | Daily Drive | Consumer Guide® The Daily Drive

The Stratus coupe replaced the 1995-2000 Avenger in Dodge’s lineup. Both are very similar in concept and both are built in Mitsubishi Engine plant in Normal, Illinois. The two-door Stratus was styled from the front-wheel drive platform derived from the Mitsubishi Eclipse sports hatchback and Galant sedan at the time. The Dodge’s wheelbase is 103.7 inches, with an overall length of 190.9 inches. Weight restraint is about 3200 pounds. Dodge’s home-made Stratus four-door sedan shares little with the coupe beyond its looks and generic name, and is radically different mechanically.

The standard engine in the R/T is Mitsubishi’s 3.0-liter 24-valve overhead cam V6 that makes 200 horsepower and 205 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission – interestingly, it’s not offered in the company’s cousin Chrysler Sebring coupe. The optional automatic transmission is a four-speed one with override, and it comes with an “AutoStick” control that allows the driver to manually select gears in a separate port. Note that AutoStick became an optional extra for the R/T automatic transmission starting in 2002. While not our focus here, the “base” Stratus coupes are. called the SE – later the SXT – and ran a 2.4-liter Mitsubishi four paired with a manual or automatic transmission.

That introductory Stratus R/T starts at $20,805, which is a significant $2,995 more than the base SE. Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on the R/T (the SE has rear drum), but anti-lock control is a $565 option. If anti-lock brakes are added to the automatic transmission, the price rises to $740, but buyers also get traction control. Other R/T features include 17-inch aluminum wheels, a rear spoiler, air conditioning, keyless entry and an Infinity sound system. Leather interior trim may incur an additional charge. Base price hit $22,980 in the 2005 model year.

The only noticeable changes to the Stratus coupes came in 2003, when they received modestly revised exterior styling. Interior updates include a new dashboard and redesigned door panels, while front side airbags have joined the options list.

Consumer Guide likes the Stratus R/T’s V6 engine and handling, but notes that the low-profile tires and sport-tuned suspension help deliver an unsafe ride on most arcs. Street. Perhaps the biggest draw is the rear seats, which are often found in sports coupes. Rear passenger space is tight for two, the cushions are low and the seat backs are reclined too far to make it uncomfortable for most people.

Photo features: 1962 Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire Coupe hardtop


• The Mitsubishi V6 was highly regarded in its day, and contemporary powertrain reports say good things about both the five-speed manual and the AutoStick-equipped automatic.


• To be honest: Stratus coupes are designed in a clean style but visually it is easy to forget.

Last drive:

Sports coupes are completely out of fashion in this SUV-obsessed age, but we think they’re still a good way to define style. Perhaps that’s especially true if you’re on a tight budget. A Stratus R/T will never have the cachet of even a dedicated Challenger V6 for hire, but remember we’re talking cheap wheels here. At today’s prices, keeping a Hellcat full of gas and running new rear tires can get you a nice Stratus R/T on your driveway.

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