2003 Stratus New Car Test Drive
Dodge Stratus is available as a four-door sedan or a two-door coupe. Sedan and coupe are significantly different in character because they are built on entirely different platforms and use different engines.
The coupe has been completely redesigned for 2003, giving it a sportier, more aggressive look. Last year, the coupe looked very similar to the sedan, but its bold new lines distinguish it further. Also, Dodge has made some improvements to the Stratus coupe for 2003 aimed at reducing noise, vibration and harshness.
Redesigned and re-engineered for 2001 for better ride, handling, and performance, Stratus sedan comes into 2003 relatively unchanged.
The sedan is sporty and fun to drive, though it lacks the refinement of the newest midsize cars, such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The coupe is also fun to drive, and it feels tighter and more refined than the sedan, particularly on rough roads. Stratus sedans generally seem to have nicer interior trim than the Stratus coupes. Neither version offers exemplary rear-seat accommodations and are best for owners who put children, and only occasionally adults, back there.
Sedan and coupe are available with V6 or four-cylinder engines. New SXT packages for both coupe and sedan are value-priced and feature popular equipment.
Stratus sedan comes in four trim levels, SE, SXT, ES, and R/T. Stratus Coupe comes in three trim levels, SE, STX, and R/T.
Sedan SE ($17,980) is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with dual overhead cams, generating 150 horsepower. A four-speed automatic is the only transmission available. SE is modestly equipped with air conditioning, power brakes and power steering, tilt steering wheel, AM/FM cassette stereo with four speakers, power locks and power windows with one-touch auto-down for the driver's window. It comes with 15-inch steel wheels and 205/65TR15 tires.
Sedan SXT ($19,045) offers a good value, adding a CD changer, body-color door handles, illuminated entry, keyless entry, power mirrors, and 16-inch aluminum wheels with 205/60TR16 tires.
Sedan ES ($21,490) comes standard with the 2.7-liter twin-cam V6 rated 200 horsepower, automatic transmission, chromed aluminum wheels, and a sport-tuned suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars and firm-feel power steering. ES gets a higher level of trim, including an eight-way power driver's seat, premium cloth bucket seats, an interior light package, illuminated vanity mirrors, and a mini trip computer.
Anti-lock brakes ($565) are optional on SE, SXT, and SE.
Sedan R/T ($21,850) mates the V6 with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is optional for no additional charge. ABS comes standard on the R/T, along with a performance-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels with P215/50TR17 all-season performance tires, and performance-tuned steering. R/T also comes with a premium stereo and is distinguished by its trunklid spoiler, wide bodyside molding and a body-color grille.
Coupe SE ($20,725) comes with a single overhead-cam 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual. Air conditioning, power windows (with driver's auto-down), power mirrors, and power door locks are standard.
Coupe SXT ($19,365) offers more value, adding keyless entry with two transmitters, 16-inch wheels, and trunklid spoiler. SXT is also available with an automatic transmission.
Coupe R/T ($21,850) comes with a 3.0-liter single-cam V6 rated 200 horsepower and a five-speed manual. It's available with a four-speed automatic gearbox ($825) and can be ordered with AutoStick ($165), which allows automatic or semi-manual shifting. R/T comes with four-wheel disc brakes, while SE and SXT get rear drum brakes. ABS ($565) is available for R/T and can be ordered as a package with traction control ($740).
Side-impact airbags ($390) are an option for all Stratus models.