Chrysler Corporation's so-called "cloud cars" were the Dodge Stratus and the similar Chrysler Cirrus. Dodge's sporty version competed in the tough front-wheel drive compact sedan market with the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Contour, Pontiac Grand Am and Toyota Camry. The Stratus was positioned right in the center of this market. It was the only sedan in the group to take advantage of Chrysler's "cab-forward" design, which allowed more interior room and trunk space than most of its competitors.
The Stratus was aimed at a customer who would ordinarily consider an import before a domestic car. To appeal to this "import-intender" customer, the design team focused on the five features these buyers said they look for, styling, packaging of comfort and convenience features, safety, dependability and a fun-to-drive feel.
This 5-passenger sedan contained front bucket seats, and the most rear-seat legroom and the largest trunk in its class. The trunk had a lockable pass-through, full-folding rear seats and a remote trunk release.
Two trim levels and three engines were available. Base engine was a 132-hp 2.0-liter sohc 16-valve 4-cylinder. In December 1994, a 140-hp 2.4-liter dohc 16-valve Four entered production. Top-of-the-line engine was a 164-hp 2.5-liter 24-valve sohc V6. A 5-speed manual transaxle was standard on the 2.0-liter engine. A 4-speed automatic came with the 2.4-liter Four and 2.5-liter V6.
The 2.0-liter engine was dropped from the ES, making the 2.4-liter engine now standard on all ES models.
The 2.4-liter engine was the next to discontinue, so all 1999 Stratus ES models now had standard V6 engines.
As of December 5, 1994:
- $13,965 (1995 Dodge Stratus)
As of June 12, 1995:
- $17,430 (1995 Dodge Stratus ES)
As of August 7, 1995:
- $14,460 (1996 Dodge Stratus)
- $16,110 (1996 Dodge Stratus ES)
As of July 27, 1997:
- $14,990 (1997 Dodge Stratus)
- $16,785 (1997 Dodge Stratus ES)
- $430 (early 1995 models)
- $535 (1995-1999 models)