2015 Chrysler 200SPosted on August 8th, 2014
Midsize sedan is stylish and value-packed
By Nina Russin
Midsize sedans comprise the largest and most competitive segment in the passenger car market. Those who want to lead the pack need to bring their A-games and take no prisoners.
When Chrysler product planners began work on the 2015 200, they started with a clean sheet of paper, leaving any references to the former Sebring or 200 models in the rearview mirror. From its muscular exterior to a standard nine-speed automatic transmission, the midsize sedan doesn’t compromise on style or performance.
The 2015 model is also eminently affordable, with the base car starting at under $22,000 excluding the $995 destination charge. There are four grades: LX, Limited, S and C. All-wheel drive is an alternative to the standard front-wheel drive configuration on S and C cars.
There are two available engines: a 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder rated at 184-horsepower, the same 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that also appears in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, producing 295-horsepower.
The test car is the sporty S grade with the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine and nine-speed automatic, priced from $24,495. Options include a convenience group that adds automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, rear backup camera and heated front seats, navigation with Uconnect, a driver information display, satellite radio, real time weather and traffic updates, blind spot obstacle detection and a premium lighting group that includes high intensity discharge headlamps and daytime running lamps. Final MSRP, including destination is $29,170.
Test drive in Arizona
When I test drove the Chrysler 200 at a media preview in Louisville, Kentucky last spring, I spent most of my time in the six-cylinder model. It was kismet that I got the four-cylinder car this time, so I could better assess its performance.
The advantage of the 2.4-liter engine over the six-cylinder is fuel economy. The Tigershark engine averages 36 mpg on the highway according to the EPA. The nine-speed automatic transmission provides large overdrive gears to maximize gas mileage.
My concern was that the engine might feel anemic, especially on the section of my drive route that included some significant elevation gains.
That concern was a non-issue. Driving between Phoenix and Payson, the sedan had no problems keeping up with traffic and passing slower vehicles at highway speeds. The engine was quiet throughout the test drive, and at no point did I feel I was pushing its limits.
My overall impression of the Chrysler 200 was as favorable as my first drive six months back. The car is quiet and solid. The powertrain is a bargain for the money. The engine is chain as opposed to belt driven, saving the driver from the expensive timing belt replacement service at 60,000 miles. I like the fact that advanced safety features such as blind spot monitoring are available on a sedan priced under $30,000.
Electric power steering has pretty good on-center response, with a pleasantly heavy feel on the highway. The turning circle is 39.8 feet. That isn’t great, but drivers should be able to perform the occasional U-turn on wider suburban thoroughfares.
The sedan’s four-wheel independent suspension does a good job of absorbing bumps in the road, but is not overly soft. When I drove aggressively through a winding section of the two-lane Bush Highway in the Superstition Mountain foothills, the chassis stayed flat and in control.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
My only complaint about the car is the thickness and location of the A pillars. They obstruct the driver’s view in the front corners of the car. It’s not a huge issue in an area such as Phoenix, Arizona because there are few trees and tall buildings to obstruct visibility at an intersection.
But it was noticeable in the Midwest. I had to inch through an intersection in a thickly wooded area because I had problems seeing the vehicles to my left and right.
Chrysler has made quantum leaps in interior design, fit and finish over the past decade. The new 200 is no exception, with materials and features that make the sedan seem like a more expensive car than it actually is.
Keyless entry and start on the test car saves the driver from fumbling for his key fob. Once inside, all controls are easy to reach and intuitive to operate.
A rotary dial controls the transmission, and takes up less room on the center console than a traditional shift lever. I found both the center stack screen and gauge cluster easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions.
The driver’s seat was quite comfortable for the two-hour test drive, with plenty of lower lumbar support. Rear seats are smaller and have less legroom than in the front row, but should be fine for smaller adults and kids.
A generous sized trunk holds groceries, luggage and smaller camping supplies. Cyclists will be better served with a midsized crossover such as the new Jeep Cherokee.
The Chrysler 200 comes with front, side, side curtain, driver and front passenger knee airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control and tire pressure monitoring.
The factory warranty covers all powertrain repairs due to manufacturing defects for up to five years or 100,000 miles: whichever comes first. The warranty also includes complimentary roadside assistance for up to five years or 100,000 miles.
The 2015 200 sedan is on display at Chrysler dealerships nationwide.
Like: A stylish midsize sedan with good power and excellent fuel economy thanks to the nine-speed automatic transmission.
Dislike: Thick A pillars obstruct the driver’s view in the front corners.
Base price: $24,495
As tested: $29,170
Horsepower: 184 Hp @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 173 lbs.-ft. @ 4600 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 23/36 mpg city/highway
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