- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. The bold, attractive styling of the Stratus carries a family resemblance to the performance end of the Dodge and Chrysler family of cars. It has the sleekness of a racing coupe with the convenience of a four-door sedan. The Dodge Stratus sedan embodies the performance heritage of the Dodge brand based on its crisp handling, powerful engine and sporty design while giving consumers a distinctive choice that stands out in the largely insipid midsize sedan segment.
Chrysler Corp. has been especially aggressive in its pricing and financing and this makes its sleek sedans even more desirable among today's value-conscious buyers. With the thrifty SE, the more luxurious ES and the performance-oriented R/T, Stratus has a model and image to fit most buyers.
When the Viper was introduced in the early 1990s, few realized that its impact would be so profound. Not only has using a bit of "the look of the Viper" as part of the styling directive gathered the attention of the public, but it has also instilled the design and engineering staffs with fresh enthusiasm. Their enthusiasm shows in the more exciting Dodge products that avoid the dull and commonplace feeling so evident in the family sedans other brands offer.
Making its debut early in the 2002 calendar year as a limited-production model, Dodge Stratus R/T sedan features an all-aluminum 2.7-liter V-6 engine, five-speed manual transaxle with a 3.77 overall top gear ratio and a specially tuned performance handling suspension with 17-inch V-rated performance tires. Exterior R/T cues are a rear deck lid spoiler, unique 17-inch aluminum wheels, body-color grille with fog lamps, body-color bodyside moldings and chrome R/T badging.
Inside, Stratus R/T has a premium cloth interior with unique instrument panel inserts to replace the woodgrain, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, AM/FM CD stereo, traveler trip computer, remote illuminated entry and cargo net. Stratus R/T will be available in four exterior colors: Inferno Red, Bright Silver, Black and Stone White.
"Stratus R/T sedan takes the fun-to-drive characteristics of the Stratus to a new level with the manual transaxle for a consumer who must have four doors, but wants a more passionate driving experience," said Jim Julow, vice president of the Dodge Division Global Brand Center, DaimlerChrysler Corp.
Both the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and the 2.7-liter V-6 engine are mated to a standard four-speed automatic transaxle on the SE and ES, and available on the R/T. The 41TE transaxle used in all Stratus sedans remains a leading example of fully adaptive, electronically controlled automatic transaxles. For added fun and driving enjoyment, the AutoStick feature, available with the automatic transaxle on the Stratus R/T model, provides drivers the control of a manual transmission shifter with the convenience of an automatic transaxle. Not just a performance frill, AutoStick provides an extra level of control of traction valuable in snow and ice. The Stratus proves to have excellent stopping capabilities thanks to all-wheel disc brakes. Low-profile tires mounted on attractive 16-inch alloy wheels gives the ES a sporty look. The ride felt firm and stable with the sport suspension.
The roomy interior has a handsome look. Comfortable seating with cloth or optional leather provides choices for most tastes. Simulated wood trim on the dashboard gives a rich look. The round, white-face instruments are a nice touch, balancing traditional style, a bit of retro and excellent visibility. The AM/FM stereo with CD player has simple, easy-to-tune controls. Cruise control, power outside mirrors and keyless entry are part of the ES package.
Proving it is not just go-and-show, the performance of the Dodge Stratus is matched by the highest safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Stratus sedan was given a five-star frontal-impact rating by NHTSA for both the driver and front passenger. The Dodge Stratus has a lot of competition from both domestic and foreign entrants in the small to midsize market.
Anyone spending time in the sedan will find it is easily up to the challenge. New exterior colors for 2002 on the Dodge Stratus are Steel Blue Pearl, Onyx Green Pearl and Light Almond Pearl. Interiors are available in cloth or leather with the choice of Taupe, Dark Slate Gray or Sandstone.

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