Some seven years into its lifecycle—if you consider it as an extension of the Chrysler Sebring—the Chrysler 200 has become sort of the Saab 9-5 of the Chrysler Group product portfolio. Now, the two may seem like an odd comparison, but at this stage in the game, the current 200, like the 9-5 at the end of its run, has become the best car ever to wear the name; it’s just that, again like the 9-5, that “best” is about a generation behind its best rivals.
That was my take-away from an encounter I had with the 2014 Chrysler 200 at a recent Chrysler Group media event, where the mid-sized sedan did show it could offer a compelling package for the right kind of customer. For example, the car I drove was a 2014 Chrysler 200 Limited with the S appearance package that, had it debuted about five years ago, would have been one of the best-regarded entries in its segment.
The interior was surprisingly quiet, and well put together, and upscale, with heated leather front seats that were just a bit too old-school comfy for my taste and an analog clock that some will find an effective style enhancer and others will find just plain affected. On the other hand, the Boston Acoustics speakers and Uconnect Media Center were plenty up to date, and the latter offered navigation, USB connectivity, a 40-gig hard drive, voice control, Bluetooth technology, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen. I know from looking at the specs that the 2014 Chrysler 200 has one of the smallest cabins in the segment, but the second-row passengers bear the brunt of its disadvantage, and the front row was just fine. Certainly, the driver’s position felt more open and airy than that in the last Chevy Malibu I drove.
Speaking of driving, my impressions of the 2014 Chrysler 200 on the road follow, but let me first set the stage by noting one key caveat about the car’s cabin: Drivers will not find any of the typical driver-assistance features like a blind-spot monitor or lane-departure warning, nor even a rearview camera system.