The 2015 Chrysler 200 has been completely remade, and from what we can see, FIAT's influence over the American car company has yielded a winner. Utilizing the same FIAT-derived architecture that gave birth to the Dodge Dart, the 200 is stretched to make its interior more accommodating for passengers. Chrysler then offers up a number of attractive options and powertrain features designed to propel the 200 up and over the benchmarks set by such stalwarts as the Honda Accord, Mazda6, Kia Optima and Ford Fusion.
From a styling standpoint, it's hard to argue with the 200's seductive lines and sleek profile. In fact, if you didn't know this was a sub-$25,000 family car, you might think you were looking at a next-generation Audi or BMW luxury sedan. Inside, the 200 continues to surprise, with a luxurious interior and a number of cutting-edge features, including a configurable LCD information screen and an unconventional rotary-knob gear selector controlling the segment's first 9-speed automatic transmission. Toss in the most powerful V6 engine in its class, the option of all-wheel drive (AWD), and one of the best infotainment systems in the industry, and the Chrysler 200 looks hard to beat.
What's New for 2015?
The Chrysler 200 is all new for 2015, leaving last year's model looking like a dated rental-car option while giving us a sleek, stylish and very affordable replacement. Sadly, the 200 convertible has been discontinued, leaving only the 4-door sedan to wear the 200 badge.
What We Like
Gorgeous styling; luxurious interior; powerful V6 engine; available AWD; excellent UConnect touchscreen infotainment system; European-inspired handling
What We Don't
Base 4-cylinder engine needs more power; small back seat; no hybrid model in the lineup; CD player has gone the way of the 8-track
The 200's standard engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder rated at 184 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque. Optional on the upper trims is a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 295 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque.
When fitted with the 2.4-liter engine, the Chrysler 200 achieves an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 23 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Moving up to the 3.6-liter V6 brings more power with only a small deduction in fuel economy, rated at 19 mpg city/32 mpg hwy. The V6 models can be equipped with AWD, which lowers fuel economy to 18 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
Chrysler offers the 200 in four trims: LX, Limited, 200S and 200C. A V6 engine is optional on the 200S and 200C trims and can be equipped with AWD.
The LX ($22,695) includes power windows and locks, keyless entry with push-button starting, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a height-adjustable passenger seat, manual air conditioning, an electronic vehicle-information center, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, automatic headlights with turn-off time delay, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, an AM/FM stereo with four speakers and USB and auxiliary input, a rear defroster, variable wipers, 17-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, a tire-service kit and front reading lights.
The Limited ($24,250) adds a 1-touch up/down feature for the front windows, a UConnect 5-in touchscreen radio with six speakers, voice-activated Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, 17-in alloy wheels, a compact spare tire and additional chrome embellishments around the grille and trunk.
The 200S ($25,490) adds steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a sport suspension, cloth- and leather-trimmed sport seats, an 8-way power driver's seat, a 4-way power passenger seat, laminated acoustic front-door glass, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, driver's side 4-way power-adjustable lumbar support, a 1-year subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio, 18-in aluminum wheels, fog lamps, dual exhaust and heated side mirrors.
The 200S V6 AWD ($29,690) adds a V6 engine and AWD.
Moving up to the 200C ($26,990) replaces the 200S's sport suspension with a softer ride and handling suspension and deletes the steering-wheel paddle shifters. Other standard features include a 6-way power passenger seat, Nappa leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a humidity sensor, rear air-conditioning vents, a 7-in driver information-display cluster, dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-in satin-silver aluminum wheels and exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals.
The 200C V6 AWD ($31,190) adds the V6 engine and AWD.
Options for the 2015 Chrysler 200 are mainly grouped into packages. The LX offers only one significant option: the 5-in UConnect touchscreen radio with Bluetooth. The Limited offers the Comfort Group, which brings dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a humidity sensor, remote starting and a rearview camera. Also available is a power glass moonroof and the Convenience Group, which includes body-colored heated power mirrors, 8-way driver's and 4-way passenger power front seats, a rearview camera and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
The 200S and 200C can be equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that will add about $2,000 to the bottom line. The Navigation and Sound Group brings an 8.4-in touchscreen display, GPS navigation, a 506-watt 9-speaker audio system with a powered subwoofer and HD Radio. HID headlights are also offered on both trims as part of the Premium Light Package. Stand-alone options include a dual-pane panoramic glass moonroof and blind spot monitoring with cross-path warning.
Exclusive to the 200C is the Premium Group, featuring a 115-volt outlet, a heated 2-tone leather steering wheel, ventilated front seats, real wood inlays and memory for the driver's seat, radio presets and exterior mirrors. Also unique to the 200C is the SafetyTec Package that adds blind spot monitoring, a full-speed collision warning system, lane-departure warning, automatic high-beam control, parallel and perpendicular park assist, adaptive cruise control and rain-sensing wipers.
The Chrysler 200 comes with a complete list of standard safety equipment, including an anti-lock braking system and electronic traction and stability control. Front, front side-impact and full-length side-curtain airbags are included, plus front driver's- and passenger-side knee airbags.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested the Chrysler 200 for 2015, but considering last year's model earned a Top Safety Pick rating from IIHS, we suspect the 2015 car will equal, and likely exceed, its predecessor's results.
Behind the Wheel
The 200 is a beautifully conceived sedan, and from behind the thick-grip steering wheel, it feels more like an upscale luxury car. Soft-touch materials are generously scattered throughout the cabin, as are a number of innovative features such as the rotary-knob gear selector and the optional 8.4-in UConnect touchscreen infotainment system. The cabin is well-isolated from outside noise, and the 200's ride is smooth and compliant.
Given the car's sleek looks, we were hoping for class-leading performance, and the 200 didn't disappoint. When it comes to tackling tight turns, the 200 is every bit the equal of the Kia Optima and Ford Fusion. The electric-assist power steering does feel a bit heavy at times but not enough to dilute this car's fun-to-drive quotient. The best performer by far is the 200S, which features a sport-tuned suspension and a more aggressive wheel and tire package.
The 2.4-liter engine's 184 hp isn't quite up to snuff when it comes to moving the 200, and the 9-speed automatic clearly favors fuel economy over rapid acceleration. We much prefer the 295-hp supplied by the optional 3.6-liter V6, which can also be paired with an optional AWD system borrowed from the Jeep Cherokee. The system features fully detachable prop shafts at both the transmission and the rear end, allowing the car to remain in front-wheel-drive mode until it detects slippage. This helps reduce wear and tear on parts and improves fuel economy.
If we could ask for one thing, it would be the addition of a 200 hybrid to the lineup. The company has hinted at a high-performance SRT model and possible turbodiesel in the near future, but for 2015 the 200 remains a gasoline-only animal.
Other Cars to Consider
Ford Fusion -- The Fusion feels more athletic than the 200, and it offers more powertrain choices, including a hybrid and plug-in hybrid model. The Fusion also provides more interior room and offers the option of a manual transmission.
Kia Optima -- The Optima has a more powerful base engine and offers a better warranty than the 200. It also offers more standard and optional features, such as heated rear seats. The Optima does not offer the option of AWD, however.
Mazda6 -- The Mazda6 is a better driver's car than the 200, and its SkyActiv engine delivers impressive fuel economy. But there is no V6 or AWD option, and the 200's UConnect infotainment system is far superior to what Mazda currently offers in the Mazda6.
If price and fuel economy are your top concerns, we suggest going with the Limited trim with the 2.4-liter engine. This model is nicely equipped and opens the door to some of the 200's more desirable option packages. If performance is paramount, the 200S V6 is the best choice. It offers the best blend of power and performance without sacrificing luxury and comfort, plus you get the added benefit of available AWD.