I bought a 2001 Dodge Stratus R/T brand new (first new car!) and absolutely LOVED it. Sadly, after 13 years, I had to retire the car. The car offered affordable luxuries (leather seats, sunroof, Infinity sound system), agile handling, and comfort. No major expenses, just the cost of routine maintenance.
I just purchased my stratus about a month ago. I have had absolutely no problems with it. it rides like a dream and has plenty of power all though the rpm band. if you are looking at one i was skeptical if i would adjust to the smaller windshield and sportier feel, but i did very quickly. I read many of these before finally buying a car. For the money i don't think you will find a better car. my only complaint although small is that if you like to drive with mirrors the blindspots can be tricky, but easily remedied by physically looking or blindspot mirrors. If considering one, they are worth it.
I bought the car recently. Super fast being the RT model. Fun to drive and it feels safe and responsive. Gas mileage is roughly 21 overall, and I drive it hard. Only a couple complaints. The second cupholder is a joke, its under the armrest and is shallow. Also there is an odd rattle that I've heard. Its mostly notable when coasting. The engine is strong so it covers it when your gassing it. Nothing major though, I can live with it. Definitely a fun car to have and it gets looks wherever it goes. Cheap too, bought mine for 5 grand with under 60k on it.
This car (the coupe) is just a Mitsubishi Eclipse with a different outer body. It's fun to drive and I still got complements even though its an '01. I traded it about a month ago with 80K miles. The transmission went without any warning whatsoever, the interior was falling apart (dash cracking in sun, door handle breaking) and paint on the door was chipping. This was upseting because I felt like I was fighting a loosing battle in tring to keep it nice, by the end it looked like I treated it like crap which was not the case. It was fun to drive with good performance from the Eclipse 3.0 200hp v6. It however kind of stunk in the winter even though it was front wheel drive and had decent tires.
Everything about this car is Mitsubishi except the frame and paint. What screwed up? The paint. I caution those considering one of these that is black. This car is a 2001, and by 2004 the paint was burning off in the sun, and I live in a temperate climate zone. The ride is like the v6 Eclipse, fast, smooth, and comfortable. The car is very fun to drive and has held up great for 88k miles thus far. Uses expensive tires and likes to eat them, but if you drive conservatively this shouldn't be too much of a problem. And, for a sports car, this car gets pretty good fuel economy. I gauged it at 26mpg using 93 octane gasoline. I love this car and will hate to get rid of it. Poor warranty