The 2003 Dodge Stratus coupe/sedan is an interestingly-styled alternative to Asian rivals. It offers decent features and some solid selling points. But it lacks the competition’s build quality, reliability, and performance. Not a bad choice, but buyers should shop around before settling.
Body Styles: sedan, coupe
Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 2.7-liter V-6, 3.0-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Stratus SXT, Stratus SE, Stratus ES, Stratus R/T
The 2003 Dodge Stratus features revised front and rear styling and an updated instrument panel and center console. The SE coupe is only available to fleet buyers, such as rental car agencies, police forces, and taxi companies. Sedans continue as before, except the SE Plus has been discontinued and the V-6 engine with the automatic transmission is now flexible fuel-rated so it can run on ethanol as well as gasoline.
The 2003 Dodge Stratus can be had as a coupe or sedan. The sedan comes in four trims: SXT, SE, ES and R/T. The coupe is available in two trims: SXT and R/T. The SXT trim level has 15-inch alloy wheels, intermittent wipers, rear defogger, and four-wheel independent suspension. A touring suspension is an option for the SXT only. The SE trim adds 16-inch wheels, power door mirrors, and delay-off headlights. The ES trim has front fog lights and outside temperature display. The R/T trim includes a spoiler. A power moonroof is an option for all trims.
The 2003 Dodge Stratus SXT has tilt steering wheel, air-conditioning, power windows and steering, AM/FM stereo, and cloth seats. The SE adds remote keyless entry, speed control, and a CD player. The ES includes power driver seat, trip computer, compass, and leather shift knob. The R/T has the option for steering wheel mounted audio controls. Leather upholstery and steering wheel trim is optional for the ES and R/T.
Performance & Handling
The 2003 Dodge Stratus base SE and SXT make use of a 150-horsepower, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 155 lb-ft of torque. It mates with a four-speed automatic transmission. A 200-horsepower, 2.7-liter V-6 producing 190 lb-ft of torque is standard in the ES and R/T sedans and optional in the SE. An AutoStick feature for the automatic transmission is standard on the SXT and R/T, which allows manually selected gear changes by tipping the gearshift lever. A five-speed manual transmission is available in the R/T. All models are front drive. Performance of the Stratus varies depending on engine choice. The four-cylinder models are vastly outperformed by rivals in this segment. The V-6 options are still outdone by the competition, but will at least handle traffic situations rather well. It isn’t a performance beast and better performance options exist in class.
The 2003 Dodge Stratus' handling is competent, nothing special, but it does improve on the higher trims. Although the Stratus isn’t powerful, drivers should be wary of torque steer as this is a front drive. Braking power is sufficient and safe. The ride is somewhat smooth in the sedans but a bit choppy in the coupes. Low profile tires cause it to convey every bump in the road to occupants. Tire noise is an issue on all models, although wind noise isn’t too bad.
For standard safety equipment on all models of the Stratus there is multistage front airbags deploy at one of three levels based on impact speed and crash severity, child seat anchors, rear door child safety locks, front seatbelt pretensioners, and electronic brake force distribution. Curtain-type airbags that deploy along the side windows are optional. The R/T has anti-lock brakes as standard gear, but this feature is optional on all other models. In NHTSA testing, it earns five out of five stars for driver, passenger, and rollover safety and three stars for front and rear side-impact safety. In IIHS testing, it receives the second highest rating of ""acceptable"" for frontal offset crash safety, but the lowest rating of ""poor"" for side impact and rear crash protection/head restraint. This is a bit of a mixed review, but overall, it seems to be above average for its class in regards to safety.
EPA Fuel Economy
Dodge Stratus SXT sedan: 20/27 mpg city/highway
Dodge Stratus SE sedan: 19/25 mpg city/highway
Dodge Stratus ES sedan: 19/25 mpg city/highway
Dodge Stratus R/T sedan: 17/25 mpg city/highway
Dodge Stratus SXT coupe: 21/30 mpg city/highway
Dodge Stratus R/T coupe: 18/26 mpg city/highway
- Driving fun
- Body style
You Won't Like
- Lacks build quality
- Lacks reliability of Asian competitors
Stylish and agile alternative to some of the standard fare in this segment.
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