Used 2001 Dodge Stratus Review

Edmunds expert review

A bit behind its Japanese competitors in terms of refinement, but ahead of them in pricing and the fun-to-drive factor.

What's new for 2001

The Avenger nameplate has been dropped from the Dodge lineup, replaced by the all-new Stratus coupe. The Stratus sedan continues with a full redesign but retains many of its predecessor's body lines. A new engine debuts along with additional safety features that make the Stratus a family sedan in the truest sense. Last year we marveled at the list of standard options on this moderately priced sedan; this year we're rechecking our numbers again as more features debut for 2001.

Vehicle overview

Chrysler obviously adhered to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy when they redesigned the 2001 Stratus sedan and new Stratus coupe, formerly known as the Avenger. The previous generation benefited from a roomy cabin, stylish design, and a long list of standard features that made it the clear value leader in its class. For 2001, the Stratus retains all the features we have come to expect while still managing to up the ante with even more standard options and an exciting new R/T coupe.

Dodge felt there was a "void in the market" when it came to stylish sport coupes that didn't require a second mortgage to afford. So they took their already striking Avenger coupe, gave it some new, even slicker styling and added a larger, more powerful V6 cranking out 200 horsepower and 205 ft-lbs. of torque. Mate that to a five-speed manual transmission, specially tuned suspension and 17-inch performance tires and you have yourself the new Stratus R/T, a legitimate performance coupe for under $25,000. The interior also underwent some revision with an easier to read instrument panel and more ergonomic controls meant to focus the driver on one thing -- driving.

Of course if your two-door days are behind you, the new Stratus sedan is sure to appeal to those looking for something a little more family-oriented. Dodge had a value leader on their hands with last year's model, so when it came time for a redesign they simply built on the already-established strengths and incorporated even more bang for the buck and safety along with a more refined exterior look. The interior received the same treatment as the coupe, getting white-faced gauges and new materials designed to not only look better but feel better as well.

Under the hood the base Stratus still retains the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder offered in last year's model, putting out 150 horsepower and 167 ft-lbs. of torque. This powerplant can be mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic and incorporates refinements meant to reduce noise at all engine speeds. Base models still offer an extensive list of standard features including A/C and an AM/FM stereo cassette while adding new 15-inch wheels and tires, larger four-wheel disc brakes and a front and rear independent suspension.

The upgraded ES model now offers a 2.7-liter V6 that adds 32 more horsepower and 20 more ft-lbs. of torque to last year's numbers, bringing the totals up to 200 and 193 respectively. Power runs through a four-speed Autostick transmission and 16-inch chromed aluminum wheels and tires. Other ES specific highlights include fog lamps, eight-way power driver's seat, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

For the first time ever, the Stratus offers an optional side airbag curtain that protects both front and rear occupants in the event of a side impact. Other new safety features include a rear center shoulder belt, multi-stage front airbags to reduce the potential for injury, along with front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load-limiters for improved occupant safety.

The long list of standard features coupled with a competitive price makes it hard to overlook Stratus if you're seeking for a fully loaded four door, while the new coupe continues the philosophy of performance and functionality while still retaining an affordable price.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.