The History Of Chrysler Stratus

The Dodge Stratus (and its twins, the Chrysler Cirrus and Plymouth Breeze; collectively known as the "Cloud Cars") was a mid-size 4-door sedan introduced in 1995. It was based on the Chrysler JA platform Cab forward (car). The Stratus, Breeze, and Cirrus were all on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1996 and 1997. It received critical acclaim at launch, but ratings fell over time. Production ended at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in early 2006 which had built 1,308,123 Stratus and Sebrings since 2000.The Dodge Avenger replaced the Stratus nameplate in early 2007 for the 2008 model year.

The Dodge Stratus, the middle entry of the JA platform (with the Cirrus being the higher-end model and the Breeze being the lower-end model), was introduced in 1995 with two models: the base (later renamed SE in 2000), which came standard with the 2.0L straight-4 and had the SOHC 2.4L as optional; and the ES, which came standard with the a 2.0L from 1995-1997, and had a DOHC 2.4L and a 2.5L V6 as optional. In 1998 the 2.4L was standard and the 2.5L V6 was optional on the ES, and from 1999-2000, the 2.5L V6 was the only engine on the ES model.

The Stratus directly replaced the high-volume Dodge Spirit to favorable reviews, but lower sales. It was often compared to other small mid-sizes such as the Chevrolet Malibu, and judged roomier than the Ford Contour by many magazines such as Consumer Reports. While the extended Ks had previously been Chrysler's main midsize offerings, the larger LH and LX platforms, conceived as replacements for the Dodge Dynasty and Dodge Monaco, would more directly compete with the Ford Taurus, the upsized Honda Accord and Chevrolet Lumina.

The cars had many parts that were interchangeable between each model. The exteriors of these three cars were very similar, with the front fascia, rear bumper, taillights, and wheels being the main differences. The interiors had little variation between the three models, being almost identical, save for the name on the steering wheel, and a few available options.

All three variants of the platform were available with most of the same standard features and available options, such as the following: a four-speed automatic transmission and an optional semi-automatic dubbed "Autostick" (not available on the Plymouth Breeze), anti-lock brakes, four wheel independent double wishbone suspension, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, power driver's seat, leather seats, power antenna, a six CD changer, sunroof, remote keyless entry, anti-theft system, etc. A five-speed manual was available with the 2.0 L engine.

A turbocharged version of the Stratus was sold in Mexico, with the 2.4L DOHC 4-cylinder engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick. This car had 168 hp (125kW) at 5200 rpm and 216lb·ft (293N·m) of torque at 2200 rpm.

The Stratus was sold in Europe, with the 2.0L and the V6, as the Chrysler Stratus (the Dodge name was not used in Europe, except for commercial vehicles). Its styling was similar to that of Chrysler's Cirrus (which featured chrome accent moldings along the doors and bumpers), with the exception of the rear taillights, which were the same as Dodge's Stratus, and a Dodge grill, which differed from that of the Chrysler Cirrus and Plymouth Breeze.

In 2000, the Stratus was available for its last year of sales in Canada, with the Chrysler Sebring taking over as the company's only lower mid-size sedan - Dodge did not sell the equivalent version in Canada.

Trim levels

  • base - 1995-1999
  • SE - 2000
  • ES - 1995-2000

In 2001, the Stratus became the last of the surviving Cloud Cars, with the Cirrus renamed as the Sebring and the Breeze discontinued. After Dodge discontinued its coupe, the Avenger (which was built on the recently discontinued second generation Mitsubishi Eclipse platform), they decided to rename their new coupe, to be built on the third generation Eclipse platform, the Stratus. This gave the nameplate both a two and a four-door model, though they shared nothing alike other than the name and a few exterior styling cues to help market them together as one vehicle. The Chrysler version of the new coupe also took the name Sebring despite also being a completely different vehicle from the Sebring sedan. The Dodge Stratus stopped being sold in Canada for 2001.

The Stratus and Sebring sedans for the second generation used a revised version of the Chrysler JA platform named JR. The coupe models with the same names were entirely different cars; they were actually based on the Mitsubishi Eclipse.

During this time, sales declined as its ratings from consumer and auto magazines fell below average among mid-size cars, while the sedan market had shifted and pushed the larger Intrepid and later Charger to record sales. 2004 brought styling revisions, which did not reverse this trend. The coupe was dropped from the lineup after 2005, and the Stratus was discontinued in May 2006 (the Sebring name was continued).

Some of the 2.7 L V6 engines have suffered from failures due to oil sludge contamination. These problems happen when fine engine oil passages become clogged with sludge, and often result in catastrophic failure of the engine. Chrysler clained, Improper maintainace, such as irregular oil changes would see such results. This has not been proven as many 2.7 owners had the sludge problem with regular documented oil changes. These owners claim adesign defect in the motor. An unknown number of Stratus, Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde, and Sebring owners have been affected. Fixes include changing to synthetic oil, inspection, and even engine replacement.

In Mexico, the Stratus R/ T came in a turbocharged version. The Stratus R/ T's turbocharged 2.4 L engine went through some improvements in 2001, when power was increased to 215hp (160kW). This improved engine would later be used in the U.S. in the Dodge SRT-4 and PT Cruiser GT. Stratus R/ T engines built from March 2004 and later generated 225hp (168kW) at 5200 rpm and 235lb·ft (319N·m) of torque at 4200 rpm. Stratus R/ T models with the turbocharged engine could be recognized by a rear badge saying "Turbo".

Although still offered in 2006, the Stratus was generally not shown among other Dodge cars in auto shows.[citation needed]

Trim levels

Sedan: 2001-2006

  • ES - 2001-2004
  • SE - 2001-2004
  • SXT - 2002-2006
  • R/ T - 2002-2006

Coupe: 2001-2005

  • SE - 2001-2002
  • R/ T - 2001-2005
  • SXT - 2002-2005

The second generation Dodge Stratus, along with the Chrysler Sebring, will be built for GAZ in Russia from late 2007 or early 2008 on, and will be sold under the brand "Siber" . The license and production facilities for these cars were sold in April 2006 to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who owns the GAZ company in Nizhny Novgorod, which builds the Volga automobile. The price is approximately US$151 million (€ 124 million). The new production facilities are planned to build up to 65,000 cars of both models yearly. Four-cylinder engines will be purchased from Chrysler and made in Mexico.

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