Soon, you're going to notice a sleek, attractive midsize family sedan zooming down American highways wearing badges that identify it as the 2015 Chrysler 200. Don't worry: A trip to the ophthalmologist is unnecessary. You're looking at the new, redesigned Chrysler 200, not the old, aged Chrysler 200.
A fresh, new look is the most obvious change to the Chrysler 200, but rest assured that this car is all new, and when compared to the vehicle it replaces, the 2015 Chrysler 200 represents a quantum leap forward in terms of style, sophistication and the ability to seduce. Let's take a closer look at the most significant changes for the new Chrysler 200.
Like what you see in the photos of the new Chrysler 200? That's good, because the company says the redesigned 200 wears the new face of Chrysler's next-generation models. Comparatively speaking, the old Chrysler 200 appears positively matronly.
Dictated by a need to streamline the car's aerodynamics and to improve fuel economy, the new 2015 200's styling is both attractive and aero-efficient, generating an impressively low 0.27 coefficient of drag. When it goes on sale, the new Chrysler 200 will be offered as the 200 LX, 200 Limited, 200S and 200C. The company expects the 200 Limited to be the most popular version, while the 200S is aimed at younger, more affluent customers.
Chrysler says the new 200's interior is "inspired by classic, thoughtful American design" and that the cabin employs upgraded materials compared to the old 200. That's an understatement. The difference in perceived and genuine quality between the dowdy old 200 and the modern new 200 is starkly dramatic.
Quieter than it was before, the 200's interior offers various 2-tone treatments, premium cloth or premium leather seats, satin chrome or warm chrome trim and available gloss black accents. The 200C model can even be upgraded with real, open-pore wood trim. The result is a passenger environment that looks and feels like someone with a clear sense of style thought everything through. That could never be said for the old 200.
As was true of the outgoing 2014 Chrysler 200, the redesigned model offers a choice between a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 3.6-liter V6 engine, each making more power than the engines offered in the old 200. The 4-cylinder is a new one to the 200 lineup, making 184 horsepower. The V6 is a slightly upgraded version of the one offered as an option in the previous 200, now generating 295 hp.
Both powerplants employ a new 9-speed automatic transmission with a rotary e-shift-dial gear selector. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the new 200 gets between 22 miles per gallon and 28 mpg in combined driving, depending on the drivetrain, despite the more powerful horsepower ratings and the availability of an optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. The old 200 averaged between 22 and 24 mpg.
You read that right. The 2015 Chrysler 200 is offered with an AWD system -- one that includes a fully automatic disconnecting rear axle, a Sport mode and paddle shifters -- and can transfer up to 60 percent of engine power to the car's rear wheels. When placed in Sport mode, this rear-biased power distribution is preserved for more athletic handling.
Additionally, the 2015 200's new electric steering includes technology designed to help eliminate torque steer and pull drift on significantly crowned roads, both dynamic upgrades that were unavailable for the old 200.
Aside from a standard Keyless Enter 'n Go system with push-button starting, the new 2015 Chrysler 200 LX is equipped in similar fashion to the old one, reflecting this version's likely future status as the rental-car special. Beyond the LX, Chrysler offers a mainstream Limited model, a sporty 200S model and a new 200C model designed to serve as the most luxurious version of the car, each featuring increasing levels of equipment.
New features include an optional panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and several new infotainment and safety technologies. Additionally, the 2015 200 can be upgraded with ParkSense Park Assist, which can steer the car into parallel or perpendicular spaces while the driver operates the pedals and transmission. That last upgrade is a rarity even on luxury cars that cost double the new Chrysler 200, let alone on mainstream family sedans.
Chrysler has been doing a terrific job of integrating technology into its vehicles, but the outgoing 200 wasn't exactly a high-tech showcase for the company. With the redesigned 2015 Chrysler 200, that changes.
Two different Uconnect touchscreen infotainment systems are available for the new 200. The 200 Limited features Uconnect 5.0 with hands-free texting capability, while the larger Uconnect 8.4 version equips the Chrysler with the largest screen in the midsize sedan class. A free 12-month subscription to Uconnect Access services and Uconnect Via Mobile is standard with Uconnect 8.4, providing Internet radio, the 911 Call/Assist service, mobile Wi-Fi hot-spot capability and more. Additionally, as an option, a configurable 7-inch LED instrument cluster allows owners to arrange information to a specific format, similar to a smartphone screen.
Clearly, the new 200 is a tech tour de force compared to the old 200.
For 2015, the Chrysler 200 is available with a long list of new safety-related technologies. Unfortunately, most of them are exclusive to the Chrysler 200's SafetyTec package, which is available only for the most expensive 200C model.
The SafetyTec package includes new features such as Adaptive Cruise Control Plus with Stop and Go, LaneSense Lane Departure Warning that can help keep the 200 in its lane, automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers and ParkSense Park Assist technology. Additionally, the SafetyTec package contains full-speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, which launches on this car and can automatically brake to reduce vehicle speed or to stop the vehicle before an impact can occur.
Additional safety upgrades for the new 200 include a SafeHold feature for the electronic parking brake, which automatically secures the vehicle if the driver opens the door and removes the seat belt while the car is still in gear, as well as 911 Call/Assist technology as a part of Uconnect Access services. Ready-alert braking and rain brake support are standard, while a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-path detection are options for the new 200.
Until the redesigned Chrysler 200 is subjected to crash tests, we can't say whether it will do a better job of protecting its occupants than the old model, which earned a Top Safety Pick rating after performing well in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests. Nevertheless, from structural improvements to new safety technologies, the redesigned 200 goes from zero to hero in the midsize sedan class.
The old Chrysler 200 wasn't as bad a car as critics claimed. With strong safety ratings, fat and juicy rebates, decent styling and a roomy interior, it offered value with a helping of luxury. Nevertheless, this new 2015 Chrysler 200 represents a dramatic improvement over the old car while remaining attainable in terms of price.