2015 Chrysler 200
Only the Name Carries Over
By Ron Amadon
BURKITTSVILLE, MD. – Here’s a 2015 that is all new from the wheels up. If this were an NFL team pre-season pundits would be talking about a possible payoff bid.
The 200’s sharp new exterior design turned heads wherever we went – what its maker calls the new “face of Chrysler.”
Well-dressed business professionals strolling on lunch break smiled when they saw the new 200 and that is no small thing as the car has to compete in one of the most dog eat dog segments of the auto industry… the mid-sized sedan market. But if it is turning heads on the street that should help Chrysler lure potential customers into showrooms.
So where should one go to photograph this very sleek sedan? How about Burkittsville, one of Maryland’s oldest towns? Nearly the entire community of 150 is included in the National Register of Historic Places. If you visit, check out the Reformed and Lutheran churches that served as hospitals for both sides during the Civil War.
For 2015 Chrysler offers four trim models, the LX, Limited, S and C and two engine choices. They ride on the platform architecture of the Alfa Giulietta that is shared with the Dodge Dart. But the 200 is eight inches longer.
Chrysler believes that most customers will be happy with the test car’s standard 2.4-liter Tigershark four that is good for 184 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque. Moving up scale one can engage the 3.6 liter V6 with 295 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. I would recommend moving up to the six for the extra power and the option of All-Wheel Drive.
The four matched with the 9 speed transmission worked okay around town, but sometimes the tranny seemed to be looking for the right gear on country roads and interstates. A downshift or two might be required on mountainous roads to maintain momentum and it remains unclear how much one would ever use the two top gears except on very flat ground.
Yet the car was rather quiet inside for its price range with just a bit of wind noise seeping in around the front side windows.
In a week of driving, I registered 27.7 mpg, virtually in line with the EPA combined estimate. Uncle Sam estimates 23 mpg in the city and 36 on the open road.
Inside the test car one quickly finds improved fit and finish, higher quality materials and then there is something hidden.
The center console mounted rotary shifter opens up a fair of amount of storage space under the arm rest and cup holders. Not enough to accommodate a tablet computer, but it slid nicely into the glove box.
There is a Volvo like storage area under the center stack with a rubber insert depicting the Detroit skyline, sans the GM Headquarters of course. Cords from your smartphone and other related devices can be passed through a hole to the hidden power supply and connections located in the center console storage. It is worth noting that there has been high praise for Chrysler’s Uconnect system.
The driver’s seat even with 8 way power adjustments and 4 way lumbar adjustments was not as long term comfortable as some competitors.
To the rear, the sweeping roof that makes the car look sporty requires prospective rear seat occupants to duck upon entry. Six foot tall adults will find enough leg room but their hair will scrape the headliner.
Two option packages brought some nice equipment to the test car. A $895 “Convenience Group” included illuminated vanity mirrors in the sun visors, heated outside mirrors, satellite radio, a backup camera that projected its image on a rather small 5” center dash screen, and a leather wrapped wheel.
For another $645, the “Comfort Group’ added automatic temperature and dual zone ventilation, rear ventilation ducts, headed front seats, Humidity Sensor, remote start, and automatic dimming rear view mirror.
Four 18” x 8” satin silver aluminum wheels rounded out the optional equipment.
A total of 16 cubic feet of trunk space is more than enough to pack away luggage and related stuff for a weekend fall foliage trip.
Handling was on a par with the competition, and not probably a huge consideration for 200 shoppers. It felt solid and well made on country roads, but certain highway imperfections could send unwanted vibrations back to the cabin, notably interstate bridge expansion strips.
For a lot of reasons, including a better looking interior and improved performance, I would recommend moving up to the S or C trim levels.
They bring a much bigger 8.4 inch information screen and that alone would be enough to encourage me to step up a model.
Moving upscale also brings a number of option packages and standard equipment to the fold. Most notable is the Navigation and Sound Group that includes a 506 watt amplifier, the 8.4 inch touchscreen display, and nine speakers with subwoofer, Navi, HD radio, Sirius XM Travel Link, and on the 200S, a 7 inch TFT instrument cluster.
Frugal minded consumers may be very happy, as the maker claims, with the reasonable $26,385 bottom line of the test car. But I would miss the options outlined above.
Yet most everyone should be happy with the 5 year, 100,000 mile, powertrain warranty.