Used 2002 Dodge Stratus Review

Edmunds expert review

Dodge offers a stylish and sprightly alternative to the mainstream models in this segment.

What's new for 2002

A new R/T sedan joins the lineup, complete with a healthy V6 and manual gearbox. Other additions to the family include the SE Plus and SXT sedans and an SXT coupe. All Strati gain a "battery saver" device and new audio features. For coupes, a stereo with a four-CD in-dash changer is available in the Touring Package and is standard on the R/T model. For sedans the new option of a stereo with both CD and cassette players debuts. New color choices include Steel Blue, Onyx Green and Light Almond Pearl now available for sedans, and Dark Titanium and Caffe Latte added to the coupes' color palette.

Vehicle overview

Last year, 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 the company took its already striking Avenger Coupe and completely revamped it by giving it some new, even slicker styling and adding a larger, more powerful 3.0-liter V6 cranking out 200 horsepower and 205 pound-feet of torque. Mate that to a five-speed manual transmission (a four-speed automatic with AutoStick is also available), specially tuned suspension and 17-inch performance tires, and you have yourself the Stratus R/T, a legitimate performance coupe for under $25,000.

Coupe customers who don't require high-performance may consider the Stratus Coupe in ES or SXT trim, which have a 2.4-liter inline four producing 147 hp and 158 lb-ft of twist mated to the choice of a five-speed manual or automatic transmission. Either way, the coupe's interior features an easily read instrument panel and user-friendly controls meant to focus the driver on one thing: driving. The SXT adds 16-inch alloys, power driver seat, 4-disc CD changer and keyless entry/security system to the SE's standards that include air conditioning, power windows and locks, and cruise control, to name a few.

Of course, if your two-door days are behind you, the Stratus Sedan makes for a stylish four-door alternative to the coupe. The interior has the same sporty treatment as the coupe; white-faced gauges and attractive cabin materials.

Under the hood, the base Stratus SE Sedan has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder putting out 150 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic is the lone tranny choice for the SE. An extensive list of standard features, including air conditioning, power windows and door locks, an AM/FM stereo cassette, four-wheel disc brakes and a fully independent suspension come on this entry-level Stratus.

A little more luxury comes with the SE Plus, which adds keyless entry, power mirrors and driver seat, CD player, cruise control and alloy wheels. The SXT is the same minus the power driver seat and unlike the other Strati is not available with the V6 engine. Inexplicably, the SXT lists for over $1,500 less than the SE Plus, making it the bargain of the lineup if you can do without the V6.

The upgraded ES Sedan offers a 2.7-liter V6 that pumps out 200 hp and 193 lb-ft of twist. Power runs through a four-speed AutoStick transmission and, again, no manual transmission version is offered. Other ES-specific highlights include 16-inch chrome wheels, foglamps, eight-way power driver seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

At the top of the sedan line is the R/T. This limited-production Stratus has the 200-horse 2.7-liter V6 hooked up to a five-speed manual tranny. A specially tuned suspension fitted with 17-inch performance tires completes this performance sedan's list of impressive hardware.

Safety is adequately looked after, as the Stratus offers an optional side curtain airbag system that protects both front and rear occupants in the event of a side impact. Other safety features include a rear center shoulder belt, multi-stage front airbags to reduce the potential for injury and the LATCH system of child seat-tether anchors.

The long list of standard features coupled with a competitive price makes it hard to overlook the Stratus, whether you're seeking a fully loaded four-door or an attractive performance coupe.

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.