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When people think "pony cars" -- sporty two-plus-two coupes with traditional American macho car styling -- they tend to think of either the Ford Mustang or the Chevy Camaro/Pontiac Firebird. But there is a third alternative: the 2001 Dodge Stratus R/T coupe.
This car combines most of the elements that make a pony car fun with the only major drawback, from an enthusiast's point-of-view, being its front-wheel-drive layout.
It's also a great way to slide into a Mitsubishi Eclipse GT for about $1000 less than you'd otherwise pay, because the $20,805 Stratus R/T shares many components with its $21,947 Asian cousin, including the Mitsubishi-sourced 3.0-liter, 200-hp V-6.
You also get a bigger car, because the Dodge R/T rides on a longer wheelbase (103.7 inches vs. 100.8 for the Eclipse). The R/T is significantly longer, too -- 190.2 inches overall vs. 175.4 for the Eclipse.
In case you didn't know, Chrysler and Mitsubishi have been partnered for some time now, and share platforms, engines and other stuff like that. This is why you'll see a lot of equipment of some Chrysler-branded products that hails from the land of the rising sun.Similarities abound
In addition to the underhood similarities, you may notice the Stratus R/T also shares a similar interior/dash layout with the Eclipse, including the interesting "remote" display for the audio and climate control system that is mounted in an LCD-type display on top of the dash, with the actual controls down near the console.
Still, the R/T is different enough to be its own thing.
The handling/chassis dynamics of the R/T seem better on the street in most conditions than those of the rear-drive Mustang -- but not as good as the also rear-drive Camaro, which, despite its other flaws, is one of the best-handling coupes on the market today.