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Car Review

2015 Chrysler 200: First Drive Review

See all Chrysler 200 articles
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author photo by Brian Moody March 2014

You know that one pivotal moment in life? It might be the birth of a child, buying your first home or meeting your future spouse. Whatever this pivotal moment is, it's a life-changing one.

Cars are no different. The introduction of the most recent Kia Optima, for example, led to a big boost in sales for the company, while Corvette models forever changed Chevrolet and the 2003 Range Rover catapulted Land Rover directly into the forefront of the luxury market.

New and Improved?

The 2015 Chrysler 200 is Chrysler's pivotal moment. It's their Sammy-joins-Van-Halen, Dylan-goes-electric, Rachel-marries-Ross moment.

Why? Because the 200 is so good that it will forever change the way you think of Chrysler and will have you questioning the features, prominence and performance of every other midsized sedan on the road, even the Kia Optima.

It's not that Chrysler invented something all new; they didn't. On paper, it's just another sedan.

Tough Competition

But Chrysler knows what they have is good. They're so confident about this new 200 that they invited automotive writers from across the U.S. to drive it and even provided competing vehicles to really make the point stick.

And we're not talking distant competitors or straw-man arguments: We're talking big names like Camry, Accord, Altima and Fusion, cars that are the popular equivalent to the starting lineup on your high-school football team. Everyone knows them, and everyone likes them.

Not only does the 200 hold its own with the cool kids, it's actually better than a few of those big-name sedans. We have to admit that the Ford Fusion is a very good car; no matter how you slice it, the Fusion just plain gets it right. And yet the Chrysler 200 is right there with it: same quiet ride, high-end interior and tons of cool options.

Plus, if there's a better in-car information system than Chrysler's Uconnect, we haven't found it. It takes SYNC's simplicity to a new level, adopts Cadillac's CUE wow factor, then adds speed, ease of use, large icons and a huge screen. Uconnect in the Chrysler 200 is just as enjoyable to use as it is in the Dodge Dart and Jeep Cherokee.

The one bummer for some: There's no more 200 convertible. The Chrysler 200 is exclusively a sedan now.

On the Road

What's not a bummer is how the 200 feels on the road. Power from the 295-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 is more than adequate. Thanks to a 9-speed automatic transmission, the 200 feels very quick, both from a stop and when passing at highway speeds.

Handling is also very good. Similar to the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, the 200 nicely balances quick steering and sharp cornering with a highway ride that feels luxurious.

We just weren't expecting how much fun the 200 is to drive. The combination of the car's sporty reflexes, strong V6, available all-wheel drive and 9-speed transmission gives the 200 a powerful but light-on-its-feet feel from behind the wheel. If you're skeptical about how the 200's Alfa Romeo roots work out in the real world, you owe yourself a test drive.

Good Value

The Chrysler 200 does all this for a price that matches or beats the competition in terms of real-world value. A very nicely equipped all-new Chrysler 200c with a V6 engine, all-wheel drive, leather, navigation with an 8.4-inch screen, satellite radio, a 10-speaker 506-watt Alpine audio system and 18-in wheels costs about $34,000.

Get rid of the all-wheel drive and save about $2,000. After that, opting for the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine saves you another $1,950. The base price for a '15 Chrysler 200 is just over $22,000.

Compare that to a Honda Accord EX or a Mazda6 Grand Touring, and the Chrysler comes out on top in terms of bang for the buck. Check that price: An Accord EX-L with nav is about $33,000, and the Mazda6 Grand Touring with navigation is about the same. The 200 is giving you all-wheel drive and a more powerful engine for the same money.

The Chrysler 200 has tons of options available, as well. Lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist (the car automatically corrects drifting out of a marked lane), rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control that can bring the car to a full stop without driver intervention and automatic park assist (the car essentially parks itself) are just a few of the available options.

LED running lights and fog lights up front are standard, as are LED taillights.

MPG Improvements

The new Chrysler's fuel economy is very good, too. V6-powered all-wheel-drive models get 18 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, good for 22 mpg combined. The high number is partially thanks to an all-wheel-drive system that disconnects from the rear wheels when it's not needed.

Last year's Chrysler 200 with a 4-cylinder engine had an Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 20 mpg city/31 mpg hwy, which means combined mpg is at about 24.

For 2015, those numbers jump significantly, with a 5-mpg improvement on the highway. Consumption is rated at 23 mpg city/36 mpg hwy, making 28 mpg combined. That's for the 184-hp 4-cylinder engine.

The front-wheel-drive V6 is rated at 19 mpg city/32 mpg hwy and 23 mpg combined, or about the same fuel economy as the outgoing 4-cylinder version of the 200.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 is an excellent sedan. This car is Chrysler's '72 Miami Dolphins, their Kia Optima, their man on the moon; it changes everything for Chrysler, and it's the car that could get you thinking differently about them. If you're a doubter, go take a test drive and get back to us. We're impressed, and we think you will be, too.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Chrysler 200: First Drive Review - Autotrader