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.