How does the Saturn LS compare with the Dodge Stratus?

Click here for the Chrysler Concorde (Dodge Intrepid) review

Review Notes: Saturn LS2
Clearly Superior In: Dealer channel
Above Average In: V6 engine
Needs Work In: Some details,
gas mileage,

The original Dodge Stratus, now in its dotage, has few advantages over the Saturn LS, other than price - with discounts and rebates, it is considerably cheaper. The Saturn is arguably a more pleasant, refined car, and it's hard to argue for the Dodge dealer experience, despite a few isolated excellent shops.

Fortunately for Chrysler, a substantially revised Stratus will be available soon. Since we have not tested it, we cannot compare it to the LS. Our advice is that, if you are in the market for a car now and were considering the Stratus, that you seriously drive the Neon (yes, the Neon), the Toyota Camry, and the Saturn LS first. We hate to say it, but you may find one of those very good alternatives to be more worthy of your money and time.

Keep on reading for more Saturn details.

How does the Saturn LS2 compare with the Dodge Intrepid?

The Dodge Intrepid is a terrific car, but some have despaired of finding a good, honest Chrysler dealership. Saturn has come to the rescue with the LS2, a worthy vehicle sold by (largely) worthy dealers.

Unlike the original Saturns, the LS2 is a large, well-designed, nicely styled sedan. It is, in essence, an Opel Vectra with a de-turboed Saab engine and Saturn body panels.

In hard turns, the tires start to squeal, but the driver remains in control. The normally pleasant ride does not conceal surface imperfections and cement pavement. The ride and handling are not quite up to the Intrepid's standards, but the V-6 engine, a pussycat at low rpm, roars nicely when you lay down on the pedal. The sudden surge of power on demand is gratifying, and the absence of power at normal engine speeds makes the car easy to drive. The suspension deals well with sudden displays of torque.

Interior space is good but less than the Intrepid. Controls make sense, despite the lack of a cruise control cancel button. The emergency brake is next to the passenger seat, but since this is a GM product, we'll accept that flaw and be grateful the cruise control is usable. The vent fan is powerful and relatively quiet. Air conditioning and cup holders are not up to Intrepid/Concorde standards, but the stereo is quite nice, with good stereo imaging. The comfortable seats can be adjusted in several ways, and the headrests can be moved fore and aft.

We hate to say it, but the LS2 is actually a reasonable alternative to the Intrepid, if you are willing to pay a couple of thousand dollars extra for the "Saturn experience" - or if you are willing to get less car for less money, since the LS2 starts below Intrepid territory. It's worth a look.

Click here for the Chrysler Concorde (Dodge Intrepid) review

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