Full 2006 Dodge Stratus Review
What's New for 2006
The Stratus coupe has dropped for 2006, along with the SE and ES models of the sedan. The R/T model gets body-color ground effects, new wheels and a rear spoiler with magnesium wings. Inside, the R/T receives new leather seats and updated trim.
The Dodge Stratus was introduced in 1995 and shared virtually everything save its grille and taillights with the Chrysler Cirrus. The Stratus sedan was then revamped in 2001, picking up more powerful engines than its predecessor as well as crisp new styling. For 2006, Dodge's midsize Stratus is available as a sedan only as the Eclipse-based coupe model has been discontinued.
The Stratus sedan is available as a base SXT style or a sporty R/T. Typically associated with high-performance Dodge cars, the R/T moniker is mainly an appearance upgrade with ground effects and an ungainly rear spoiler. Sharper suspension tuning and a 2.7-liter V6 with 200 horsepower do back up the performance image to a degree, but the car is outclassed by better-performing sedan competitors. The leaders of the midsize sedan segment are now bigger, faster and more luxurious than ever before. Although it's nimble handling and low pricing might give it some appeal if you're on a tight budget, the 2006 Dodge Stratus falls well short of the competition in most other areas. And don't forget Dodge's own Charger, which offers a highly compelling combination of refinement, performance and value.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The midsize Dodge Stratus sedan is available in SXT and R/T trim levels. The SXT comes with air conditioning; power windows, mirrors and locks; cruise control; a CD player; keyless entry; and 16-inch alloy wheels. Stepping up to the R/T introduces a firmer suspension, 17-inch alloys wrapped with performance tires, leather seating and premium audio. Body-color ground effects and a rear spoiler with magnesium wings are also part of the package. A sunroof is optional on the R/T, as is a CD changer and a full-size spare tire.
Powertrains and Performance
The Stratus SXT has a 2.4-liter inline four good for 150 hp, while the R/T version receives a 200-hp, 2.7-liter V6. Both Dodge cars come with a four-speed automatic transmission. Expect adequate, albeit noisy, acceleration with the four-cylinder engine. We recommend going with the V6, as it gets the Dodge Stratus up to speed nicely in most situations, though not with the refinement commonly associated with the top V6s found in import sedans.
Side curtain airbags are optional. Antilock brakes with traction control are standard on the R/T and optional on the SXT. The Dodge Stratus earned five stars (out of five) ratings in frontal-impact crash tests conducted by the NHTSA and an "Acceptable" rating (second-highest) in IIHS frontal-offset testing. Without the optional side airbags, NHTSA gave it three stars for side-impact safety, while the IIHS gave it a "Poor" rating (the lowest).
Interior Design and Special Features
In spite of its crisp bodylines, the Stratus doesn't have much in the way of style in the cockpit, aside from a sporty set of white-faced gauges. Build and materials quality is also lacking. Although most drivers will find adequate room up front, the rear-seat accommodations leave plenty to be desired with minimal room to spread out, mediocre cushioning and no head restraints. The Stratus boasts 16 cubic feet of trunk space.
The 2006 Dodge Stratus doesn't stand out in its segment in terms of outright performance, but the R/T sedan does provide a moderately entertaining drive with minimal body roll in the corners. Overall, the ride is not particularly composed, often transferring harshness directly to the occupant compartment.