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2015 Chrysler 200: First Drive Review


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.

 

Brian Moody
Brian Moody is an author specializing in transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used, and certified pre-owned advice. He also specializes in liking ridiculous cars like the Buick Reatta, Studebaker Lark, and the GM A-Body wagons from the late 80s and mid-90s. Why? You'd have to ask him. Brian graduated from Cal State Long Beach and has been creating written... Read More about Brian Moody

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3 COMMENTS

  1. We had a rental is San Francisco this weekend.. Had the pick of several cars – I love cars and tried this one.
    First the positives- styling is now on par with other cars . Ride was nice – not harsh not floaty- not sporty felt pretty good for most of the time. Engine was capable most of the time. Infotainment was nice( does have some quirks) . Driver’s seat has good adjustments and while could have been better was not horrible. The tilt telescoping wheel probably scopes in and out further than most ( very positive) . Storage – positive – loads of storage compartments . Negative – significant lip to load luggage into trunk, center stack- has quirky shelf under console- console has a part that was so deep was hard to reach things – I did like the hideable cup holders and armrest was comfortable. Transmission Positive- shifts were quick and mostly smooth ( I HATE CVTs) but on some really steep roads the tranny took some time before going up( maybe hill assist issue) and moderate speed (40ish ) shifted up and down too many times. Gauges were easy to read except for the heat and gas were digital stacked lines with heat incredible long. I like the center of the gauges could be configured.

    The negatives- (PLEASE NOTE THESE ARE MINOR AND PERSONAL) The speedo went to 155- making the 60 – 75 hard to see (digital speedo config in center fine). Tranny in San Francisco had hard time selecting appropriate gear mileage suffered to 20 combined Driving on a windy road with steep incline seemed front was plowing and not following steering inputs with confidence especially with unpredictable power with tranny shifting down abruptly. I hate the dial shifter- not a good place- very weird in tight back n forward ( small ,tight parking garages) and near the A/C fan. Driving the car seemed cramped from side to side ( i am not overly wide). Center console was too deep- inconvenient to find things.

  2. Beautiful new model here for sure. However, if Chrysler continues to sell most to Fleet and Rental Car companies like they’ll always done with the 200 and prior……..nobody wants to buy a car that is basically a common rental car from Budget.

    • Chrysler officials say they intend to sell fewer 2015 200s to rental agencies. However, there’s not much evidence that models common as a rental cars hurt sales. Often, the most popular cars are in rental fleets – Altima, Camry and Malibu are just a few examples.

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