The American car market is a very unique place. Americans have very peculiar tastes and the vast environment of the country means that manufacturers need to build their cars for a vast array of conditions. It’s here where American consumers can face a lot of problems when trying to find a perfect car to buy. Chrysler has generally managed to stay ahead of the curve on the American market and has countless times delivered very reliable and well-selling vehicles.
Today we are going to take a look at the Chrysler Stratus, which is still one of the most well-received car launches in the company’s history. Based on the JA platform, the Stratus is a midsize car that offers quite a lot for its price tag.
Starting with the outside, the Stratus is still a great-looking car. It features a crisp design that flows evenly from front to back. The front bumper is pretty big and the grille is wide, but neither of these things ends up looking bad. The body lines weave seamlessly and create a final product that is really pleasing to look at, without tackily trying to stand out in every parking lot.
Over the years of its production cycle, the Stratus has been powered by a myriad of engines that include a 2.5L V6, a 2.4L four-cylinder (with a turbocharged option), and a 2L four-cylinder. Depending on the exact engine, the Stratus is capable of producing as much as 225 HP without breaking a sweat. Transmission is handled by either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic, both of which are well made. Acceleration is reportedly adequate (and a bit noisy) and will get the Stratus off the starting line in a better-than-expected manner, especially with the V6. Handling is firm for a car of this category and doesn’t disappoint. While a lot of safety features are present, the Stratus did have lower ratings on the safety side that are worth mentioning.
The interior doesn’t live up to the style of the exterior, but it’s not exactly bad either. Some of the materials feel cheap, but it does come together nicely. The trunk space is nice for the size of the car and the overall roominess on the inside is above average. Depending on the trim level you’d get a long list of features that includes air conditioning, remote keyless entry, cruise control, a six-disc CD player, and power windows, mirrors, and locks. An optional sunroof is also available, but overall the passenger experience is far from bad. One of the bigger problems reported by consumers was the clunky console control panel that isn’t very intuitive to use. Small issues are also present like the speedometer being a bit hard to read properly at night.
Chrysler also started offering a coupe version of the Stratus in 2001 and while it generally offered minor improvements, it wasn’t a complete redesign. Despite its strong start, the Stratus ended up losing ratings over time, which led to its eventual discontinuation. In an interesting move, Chrysler ended up licensing the Stratus’ design to the Russian market where it was continued and slightly modified to become the Volga Siber.
The Chrysler Stratus is an above-average car despite some of its flaws. There are more luxurious and powerful options on the market, but this car is perfect for those who want a car that handles well, is generally fast, and looks great on a tighter budget. For the price tag of the Stratus, you will get a great product that will serve you reliably without making your wallet cry.