Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 Dodge Stratus Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 Dodge Stratus Overview

Body
A Sport Coupe the Whole Family Can Live With

People like their cars. The problem is, as people get older, their needs change, often requiring more space and less flash. Wouldn't it be nice if someone built a car that could satisfy the race-car driver in you, yet still be able to carry four adults in comfort? Well Dodge has such a car and it's called the Stratus R/T Coupe.

Though it shares a similar front-end treatment and name with the Stratus sedan, the two have little else in common. The Stratus R/T is derived from a Mitsubishi platform, the same one used by the Eclipse coupe and convertible. Dodge has stretched the platform an extra few inches to give the Stratus a smoother, more balanced ride and to make room for a rear seat area that is completely amenable to holding three full-sized adults. The R/T is at the top of the Stratus coupe line, but if its price or power are more than you need, there are four- and six-cylinder SE models that share the same sheet metal with the R/T but have a less aggressive appearance, suspension and wheel and tire package.

What makes the R/T such a hot car is its combination of tasteful exterior ground effects, big wheels and tires and a powerful 3.0-liter V6 engine. Rated at 200 horsepower, the V6 can be teamed with either a precise shifting 5-speed manual or an AutoStick automatic transmission—the later allows you to manually shift gears without the use of a clutch pedal. The AutoStick works simply, but still is not as quick to pick up on gear changes as the manual 5-speed. If you've ever driven a manual, you'll agree there is nothing quite like rowing your own gears. On the other hand, there is nothing worse than getting caught in stop and go traffic when you have a manual; in this situation, the AutoStick is the hands-down favorite.

The R/T delivers its power to the pavement via its front wheels. 200-horsepower being delivered to the same wheels that steer the car is bound to induce some torque steer and the Stratus is not immune to this effect. When you order the AutoStick, you also get a limited-slip differential and traction control that helps reduce tire spin and somewhat ease the car's tendency to pull to the left or right upon hard acceleration. A brilliantly tuned suspension gives the Stratus R/T the rare combination of passenger car-like ride and road-hugging hot rod. Its enormous 17-inch five-spoke wheels and tires provide more than just visual stimulation, they vastly improve the way the R/T grips the road; the driver's ability to cut tight corners is further aided by the R/T's short hood and expansive glass area. In fact, other than the slightly over-assisted power steering, the R/T delivers one of the most spirited rides in this segment.

Inside the R/T, you'll find a handsome cockpit that equals the R/T's racy exterior. The speedometer, tachometer and temperature gauge are all housed in a deeply-recessed binnacle to help reduce the occurrence of sun glare. The wide center console gradually curves downward to connect with the dash, placing the transmission lever within easy reach without blocking the HVAC and radio controls. The R/T's seats could do with more side bolstering when the driving turns aggressive, but what they lack in lateral support they more than make up for in long-distance comfort. You can sit for hours in the R/T without experiencing lower back fatigue or sleepy legs.

Of course, the Stratus R/T comes with a long list of standard equipment including air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes, power windows, power door locks, fog lamps, remote keyless entry, rear defroster, AM/FM Infinity Sound System with 4-disc in-dash CD changer, cruise control, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, remote trunk release and intermittent wipers. Options include a leather package with a six-way power driver seat and manual lumbar adjustment, the AutoStick automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes (ABS), power glass sunroof and polished aluminum wheels.

Even when fully decked out to the nines, the R/T coupe barely crosses the $25K mark and in a world where a $35K car is considered "average," the Stratus R/T starts to look pretty darn sweet.

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