Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Dodge Stratus Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Dodge Stratus Overview

Body
In the Spirit of Muscle Cars Past

There was a time not long ago when Dodge built some of the fastest, most desirable performance coupes on the planet. Names such as Charger and Challenger were augmented by such labels as Hemi, shaker and six-pack and sent shivers up and down the spines of car guys from coast to coast. Today, a well-preserved original can fetch up to $40,000 at auction, proving that these cars were a one-of-kind creation never to be replicated. So what's a 21st century car lover to do? Well, though the days of the muscle car have passed, Dodge has not forgotten the spirit of those coupes, the hours of pleasurable cruising they inspired and the powerful image they conveyed. Today's young drivers can capture a bit of the old Dodge magic in the new Stratus coupe.

The coupe market is a tough place to play. There are fiercely good competitors from both Europe and Japan, and a host of aftermarket companies jockeying for favor among the young street tuner crowd. This is not a place for a warmed-over sedan platform massaged into coupe form; this is a market that demands serious commitment. Understanding this, Dodge has turned to its long-time partner Mitsubishi for a little help. The basis of the Stratus coupe is derived from the excellent Eclipse platform. The engine, drivetrain and interior fittings are all direct transplants, with only the wheelbase and rear end modified by Dodge. Where the Eclipse is really a two person coupe with a tiny backseat, the Stratus' additional length and higher roofline allow it to comfortably carry two full-size adults and still provide plenty of room for their luggage in the deep trunk.

In the looks department, the Stratus scores big. Its racy wheels, sharply creased sheetmetal and aggressive crosshair grille are definitely shaped to attract the younger eye. Dodge further pushes the sport car envelope by adding on wide, lower side runners and a sharp trunk-mounted rear wing. The Stratus is available in two trims, SXT and R/T, but unlike most coupes, the base model SXT does not look like a stripped down version of the racy R/T. We applaud this decision, which allows those who want the look of the R/T, but not the added power and cost.

The SXT includes a long list of standard equipment, including 16-inch cast aluminum wheels, remote keyless entry, cruise control, power windows and door locks, power trunk release, tilt-wheel, air conditioning and an AM/FM stereo cassette with four-disc in-dash CD changer. Prices for the SXT model start at just $20,535 and include a number of options and packages.

The Stratus' interior is as sporty and clean as its exterior. You'll find the speedometer and tachometer are deeply recessed in a hooded pod that protects them from the sun's glare; R/T models have white-faced gauges for even better clarity. The Stratus' low-back bucket seats include adjustable headrests and seat height. They provide good lateral and lower back support and can be equipped with a 6-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar support. A wide center console contains two large cup holders and a deep storage area perfect for hiding CD's and cell phones. The shift lever rests exactly where your hand naturally falls and is angled down so as not to block the heater controls.

Power for the SXT comes from a spunky 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces a healthy 147 horsepower. With this engine under its hood, the Stratus feels light on the road, easily maneuverable with a nice balance between front and rear. The suspension set up on the SXT tends to lean toward comfort over performance, but you will still find this sporty coupe offer hours of driving enjoyment combined with a very livable ride. Another bonus for the Stratus is its 16-gallon fuel tank that allows you to cruise an average of over 450 highway miles on a single tank of gas.

For those who want all the driving excitement promised by the Stratus' muscular exterior, the R/T model is the one you'll want. It comes standard with a slick shifting five-speed manual transmission and a torque heavy 200-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. You'll find the V6 brings this car to life, with good low-end torque for quick passing and jackrabbit off-the-line starts. Handling is vastly improved over the base model, due in part to the thicker roll bars and stiffer shocks, but mostly because of the tenacious 17-inch Goodyear performance tires. The R/T also offers the option of Chrysler's AutoStick automatic transmission that allows you the pleasure of selecting your own gears without the burden of operating a clutch pedal. If you decide to go with the AutoStick, you will be offered the added security of low-speed traction control, a worthwhile option for those who drive in snow and rain.

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