"My wife bought it when new when we were dating because I would not let her buy a minivan. She complied, so I married her.
Other than a faulty AC hose when newish, and a total auto trans failure ($2000 at 60K miles), this car has been very solid. The autostick trans is great. MPG is good with the 2.5 L V-6 (25+). I do most maint on car myself, and it is simple, but for the rear 3 plugs (must remove intake manifold).
Handles terrifically. I removed the plastic factory front shock tower installation guides (white) and pushed the towers fully inwards to maximize camber. This helped with the tendency for outsides of front tires to wear prematurely, as well as increasing the cornering G limit. DO THIS YOURSELF WITH CAR ON JACKS! I would not mind another 40 HP like the next generation Stratus has, but then the MPG would suffer. It is no slouch, though, especially if you use the autostick and keep revs where you want them (3000+).
I have 100K miles on it, and have experienced minimal brake pad/rotor wear. Doesn't burn oil excessively. I would reduce interval for changing coolant though, as it comes out WAY ROTTEN if you wait till the recommended intervals. The leather seats have not held up at all, but the paint has done great. No other simple problems with car.
I intend to keep car until it drops, but I may reconsider depending on if/when trans dies again."
"We bought or Stratus, a '97 ES model with the 2.4L 4-cylinder, in 2000 for my wife. I've driven it for the past 5 years and I've loved every minute of it. Exterior styling is far beyond any comparable vehicle of it's time and is only now being met by the likes of Mazda, with excellent proportions that make it appear larger. Interior styling more fits it's size and price point, but room cannot be beat: I'm 6'5" and people can ride comfortably behind me. My ES came nicely equipped with full power and an above average premium sound system, although without a CD player. Pioneer fixed that. Build quality is ahead of its time for American cars, and it remains free of squeaks and rattles. The engine was a little harsh coming out of a nice V-6, but the drivetrain is otherwise excellent. Initial acceleration surprised me (and has surprised many a driver looking to race to merge at red lights), and acceleration at higher speeds is more that adequate. The suspension corners very well, but ride quality suffers as a result. Still, the ride is not unpleasant or jarring. Wind and road noise are higher than I like. I consistently see 20-25 mpg in the city and 30+ on road trips, and the 15 gallon tank gives me 350-400 miles of city driving between fill-ups. Reliability has been great, but at 11 years and almost 150,000 miles it's starting to show its age. However, the repairs needed right now are well worth it and otherwise the car shows no sign of slowing down."
"I got this car for $200 from my best friend. replaced the hood 'cause she had hit a deer, everything else was fine. bought this car at 160,000 miles and she now has 216,500. this car was comfortable, reliable, fast, great handling, easy to get my 2 1/2 year old in and out of the back. rear driver door handle broke, and the rear passenger handle close to it. recently while driving it, it just dies, the rpm's just go down, still has power to everything else, and when almost to a stop it just sputters out. taken to a mechanic, he can't figure it out even with the diagnostic tool, replaced the o2 sensor, because the diagnostic tool said that was the problem, still had the same issue. i absolutely love this car, and i am sorry to see her in such bad shape."
Pros: "33 MILES TO THE GAL.GOOD PICK UP.NICE LOOKING."
Cons: "NO ASHTRAY"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"BOUGHT THIS CAR AT AUCTION FOR $700.00,PUT $1000.00 INTO IT AND I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER.GREAT ON GAS,NICE LOOKING,RUNS GREAT, CHEEP TO REGISTER.WILL BABY IT AND TRY TO GET ANOTHER 100,000 MILES.YA BABY I LOVE THIS CAR"
"I have owned my 2000 dodge stratus since 2003. I got it when it had 42,000 miles on it, it now has about 105,000. It runs great, I never had any issues with it breaking down on me. There was a few things I had to replace in the car, hoses, struts, timing belt but that was normal tear and wear. The only few gripes that I have with it is that 1. the cup holders are useless 2. my cigarette lighter stopped working (can not charge my phone) tried changing the fuse, did not work and 3. sometimes my music "hiccups". But I hope the next time I buy a car it will be as solid as this one is."