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Available Stratus Models
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The instrument panel gauges are now white-faced, wheels are better looking, and some work has been done to reduce the interior noise levels.
If the string of recent hits from Chrysler hasn't convinced you that a revolution has occurred within the company's ranks, then the Stratus will. Stylistically, aesthetically and technologically, this car is a triumph in the compact class.
Actually, the Stratus isn't compact inside. Classified by the EPA as a mid-sized sedan, it boasts more interior volume than Ford Contour, Mercury Mystique and Nissan Altima. Ergonomics are first rate, with dials and switches that look and feel more substantial than the price tag would indicate. Patterns and textures within are satisfying, and the gripping seat fabric holds passengers in place during spirited driving. Rear seat room is a marvel of packaging, though the low cushion could be raised somewhat for better support.
Externally, the Stratus is more mainstream than its corporate cousin, Chrysler Cirrus. We prefer the Stratus because the body-color grille reduces the visual largess of the car's protruding snout. The sheetmetal is very attractive, with soft bulges and extreme cab-forward design lending the Stratus an air of character often lacking in sedans. Styling changes for 1999 are minimal, amounting to redesigned wheels, an updated instrument panel, and two new color options.
The fun resides in the Stratus ES equipped with an available 168-horsepower V6 hooked to Chrysler's AutoStick automanual transmission, or the base model with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual gear shifter.
Pop the trunk and you'll find 15.7 cubic feet of storage. It's easy to load that space up with stuff too, because the lid opens up high and wide. No banged heads on protruding trunk latches here. Up front and underhood, the vital fluids are well marked. Large block letters and yellow trim highlight the oil dipstick, coolant reservoir and windshield wiper fluid, among others.
This car is about ease of use and operation. Perhaps it isn't as soul stirring as a Ford Contour V6, or as perfectly engineered as the Honda Civic but it is a fantastic value, and we recommend that you consider the Stratus if a family sedan fits the bill.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.