1997 Dodge Stratus Review

Pros & Cons

  • Huge interior, great handling, excellent value, good looks
  • Rear visibility, no manual transmission with V-6 engine
List Price Estimate
$334 - $860

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

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 midsized 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 seat fabric is grippy, holding 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 though, because the body color grille reduces the visual largess of the car's protruding snout. The sheetmetal is very attractive, with soft bulges and extremely-cab-forward design lending the Stratus an air of character often lacking in sedans. Styling changes for 1997 are minimal, amounting to the deletion of the lower trunk lid molding at the rear, new wheelcovers on base models, and body-color fascias forward and aft.

Dodge revises the engine intake manifold and oil pan on the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine this year, resulting in quieter operation. Inside, audio systems are improved, and an in-dash CD changer is optional. Rear seat heat ducts benefit from increased air flow, and the front center console is restyled to include a covered storage bin and armrest. Orchid and Light Gold paint colors are replaced by Dark Chestnut Pearl and Deep Amethyst Pearl.

The recipe for fun resides in the Stratus ES equipped with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed gear shifter, or a 164-horsepower V6 hooked to Chrysler's new AutoStick automanual transmission. Base models can be had with a 2.0- or 2.4-liter inline four, but the smaller engine is the only one that comes with a manual transmission.

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 Accord; it is a fantastic value, and we recommend that you consider the Stratus if a family sedan fits the bill.

1997 Highlights

Subtle styling revisions are the most obvious change to the Stratus for 1997. Sound systems have been improved, rear seat heat ducts benefit from improved flow, and the optional 2.4-liter engine runs quieter. New colors and a revised console round out changes.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Dodge Stratus.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Great ride, for little money.
4dr Sedan
Bought mine used for $2,000 with 60,000 miles on the motor, 110,000 on the transmission, passed emmissions. Spent less than $1,000 for new tires, brakes, and shocks. Serviced the transmission at 115,000 for less than $150 for new fluid and filter. Starter went out a year later, less than $300 to replace. Overall I've spent less than $3,500 for the car and all repairs.
Dependable and Reliable and Economical
ES 4dr Sedan
Purchaced a 1997 Stratus ES, 2.0, 5 speed manual off ebay for $700. Supposedly needed a fuel pump at 160k. Car had been previously well cared for and was in excellent condition. Had it shipped from Toledo, Oh to Arkansas. When it arrived, the engine was locked up due to someone pouring 2 gallons of water in the gas tank. Long story short, broke the engine free without taking it apart, replaced fuel pump, due to the water, and have put another 40k+ trouble free miles on it. I use it for my beater car, haul engines and parts, and drive long distances back and forth to work weekly. It can sit for months, fire right up, and drive 3-8 hours. Gets 34mpg or better, rides and drives great!
My Wonderful Green Machine
Dave Perry,06/20/2008
4dr Sedan
I purchased the car new with about 12,000 miles on it. I believe a salesperson from the dealership used it, however, the car drive and looked like brand new when I purchased it. My wife fell in love with it. She worked about 75 miles from our home and drive it 5 days a week which equated to about 150 miles per day and more than 36,000 mile a year. She now has another car (for the sake of a new one) and I now drive it. It has close to 220,000 miles on it and is still running strong. The biggest cost was the head gasket replacement once it passed 55,000 miles at my expense ($1250.00). Other than that, repairs were only routine as with any reliable car. I love this car!! Its part of me.
good car for the money
ES 4dr Sedan
got the car with 90,0000 but a timeing belt in at 120,0000 and but a water pump at 245,000 and the car now has 260,000 and is still running strong with the origanal moter and tranny car is fun to drive and good on gas


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger2 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Dodge Stratus

Used 1997 Dodge Stratus Overview

The Used 1997 Dodge Stratus is offered in the following submodels: Stratus Sedan. Available styles include ES 4dr Sedan, and 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Dodge Stratus?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1997 Dodge Stratuses are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1997 Dodge Stratus for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1997 Dodge Stratus.

Can't find a used 1997 Dodge Stratuss you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Dodge Stratus for sale - 5 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $15,390.

Find a used Dodge for sale - 7 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $11,247.

Find a used certified pre-owned Dodge Stratus for sale - 8 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $24,061.

Find a used certified pre-owned Dodge for sale - 4 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $13,269.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Dodge Stratus?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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Check out Dodge Stratus lease specials