2015 Chrysler 200 First Drive Review
Sleek, fluid, and poised.
These are but a few of the adjectives applicable to the appearance of the 2015 Chrysler 200. Where the look of the outgoing model could best be described as an amalgamation of disparate ideas from a discordant committee wholly at odds with one another—this new 2015 Chrysler 200 seems to have been drawn by one very tasteful and highly focused person.
Further, the new Chrysler boasts a wonderfully cohesive interior treatment, a pair of smooth engine choices, and the first nine-speed automatic transmission ever applied to a mass-produced mid-size passenger car. What’s more, the 2015 Chrysler 200 also possesses a nimble suspension system capable of delivering a smooth and quiet ride. And, in addition to all of those attributes, the new Chrysler returns quite reasonable fuel economy.
If it sounds like we’re viewing Chrysler’s latest effort with considerable favor, it’s because we are. However, there are also many naysayers who will decry the design as derivative (and yes, there is a lot of Audi in the look of the car). They will also deride its tech quotient as merely keeping up—rather than breaking new ground. Some will also berate the Chrysler’s interior treatment as being nothing really new. And yes, there is a seed of truth in all of those criticisms.
Given the 2015 Chrysler 200 is positioned to compete in one of the most hotly contested segments of the marketplace, the car does a have a tough row to hoe. If the home team is looking to displace the imported perennial frontrunners: yeah, their car really could use every advantage it can get.
But we’re about to be getting ahead of ourselves.
First things first; let’s cover the new Chrysler’s pertinent details.
2015 Chrysler 200 First Drive Review: Model Lineup and Prices
For the 2015 model year, Chrysler is offering the 200 in four trim levels; LX ($21,700), Limited ($23,255), S ($24,495), and C ($25,995).
Standard features of the 2015 Chrysler 200 LX include; seventeen-inch alloy wheels, body colored exterior mirror housings, body colored exterior door handles, automatic halogen projector headlamps, LED taillamps, active grille shutters, keyless entry and start, a tilt and telescoping steering column, an electric parking brake, a rotary e-shift dial for the automatic transmission, cloth upholstery, a 60/40 split rear seat; steering wheel mounted controls for the audio system, cruise control, and electronic vehicle information center; two 12-volt power outlets, power windows, mirrors, and door locks; interior LED ambient lighting, and Chrysler’s Uconnect telematics system supported by a four-speaker audio system with an auxiliary audio input port and a USB port.
The 2015 Chrysler 200 Limited features all of the above plus; chrome exterior trim, automatic headlights with LED light pipe daytime running lights, driver and passenger one-touch power windows, heated front seats, dual zone automatic climate control, heat and A/C outlets in the rear center console, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, and six speakers for the audio system.
The sporting oriented 2015 Chrysler 200S comes standard with gloss black exterior trim, eighteen-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust tips, acoustic windshield and front door glass, heated, folding exterior rearview mirrors, a power adjustable driver’s seat, a leather wrap for the steering wheel, paddle shifters for the automatic transmission, a sport suspension system, a sport shift algorithm for the automatic transmission, fog lights, a one-year free SiriuisXM satellite radio subscription, plus available all-wheel drive with front to rear torque vectoring and a fully disconnecting rear differential.
Standard kit for the top of the line 200C Chrysler includes all of the above plus, integrated turn signals in the exterior rear view mirror housings, leather upholstery for the seats, power adjustable driver and front passenger seats, remote start, an auto dimming interior rear view mirror, illuminated door handles and footwells, and illuminated vanity mirrors in the sun visors.
2015 Chrysler 200 First Drive Review: Exterior Styling and Interior Treatment
Leading the design changes is the grille treatment featuring the new face of Chrysler, the headlights flow into the grille and the winged Chrysler badge seems to float on the grille. This all sweeps seamlessly into the gracefully flowing lines of the newest Chrysler sedan. According to Chrysler’s spokespeople, the design is evocative of traditional American classics such as Airstream travel trailers and Chris Craft boats. Hyperbolic? Sure, but there is no denying the look of the car is eons better than the car it replaces. The look is sportier, but at the same time it exudes luxury, grace, and confidence.
Marked by a distinct cleanliness of line, the design is simple, yet eye-arresting. At first glance it appears to be little more than another entry into the now well-populated portfolio of sedans with coupe-like styling. However, study the 2015 Chrysler 200 and you’ll see a wealth of details all harmoniously blending together to create a singular look. Because of this, the Latin phrase e pluribus unum (out of many, one) applies just as well to the 2015 Chrysler 200 as it does to the country that calls the newest Chrysler one of its own.
This harmony of line continues inside the car as well. Chrysler’s styling team drew upon classic American products such as the Eames lounge chair and the iPhone to contribute design elements. Look carefully at the wood trim on the doors and instrument panel of the new mid-size Chrysler sedan and you’ll see it mimics the venerable Eames chair nicely. Meanwhile, the icon treatments and overall layout of the eight-inch monitor in the dash mimic Apple’s well-regarded product quite nicely.
The floating center console houses large, easy to grasp rotary dials for the audio system, climate control system, and transmission functions. Employing a dial for the transmission—rather than the traditional lever—frees up valuable real estate, enabling the design team to locate more controls where the driver’s right hand would naturally fall. Underneath is a handy storage tray, open on both sides for easy access by both the driver and the front passenger. Lining that compartment is a rubber mat featuring a replication of the skyline of the city of Detroit, underscoring pride of place for the newest Chrysler’s hometown.
2015 Chrysler 200 First Drive Review: Comfort and Cargo
In addition to taking advantage of the area beneath the center console, the 200’s interior team incorporated a number of other useful touches. The cupholders in the center console slide to improve the functionality of the space. When not needed as cupholders; they can simply be pushed out of the way to reveal a deep storage bin containing the ports for the media functions. To facilitate these, the pass through storage area features an opening to accommodate the power and control cables for the wide variety of electronic devices we encounter these days. The door storage pockets feature bottle holders sized to contain 20-ounce beverages, as well as any other items a driver is likely to need close at hand.
Over a full day of driving the 2015 Chrysler 200, we found the seating to be firm, yet comfortable. The cloth interior treatments help tremendously in terms of holding one in place in the seats, while the carefully crafted shape of the seats help in this regard as well. This also holds true when the seats are upholstered in leather. Building front seat legroom into a car this size is no real challenge, and as such the front two seats are very comfortable indeed. The rear seats are sufficiently comfortable as well; if the front-seat occupants are willing to be a tad generous by sliding their seats forward.
Speaking of generosity, the trunk of the 2015 Chrysler 200 is more than adequately sized for a car of its dimensions. Further, the low lift-over height of the rear bumper makes getting items in and out of the cargo area relatively easy to accomplish. If more cargo capacity than is afforded by the trunk is required, the rear seat backs fold 60/40 to permit the carrying of items in the passenger compartment as well. The trunk is capable of accepting up to 16 cubic feet of cargo.
2015 Chrysler 200 First Drive Review: Safety Technology
The new 200’s suite of safety features meets all the contemporary expectations for its competitive set. These include four disc brakes with ABS, the usual complement of airbags, an anti-theft alarm system, automatic headlights, traction control, stability control, a post collision safety system, tire pressure monitoring, seatbelt pretensioners, blind-spot monitoring, whiplash protection, brake force distribution, and brake drying.
The 200 also offers voice activation of secondary features and self-parking, along with lane departure warning, a rear-view camera, ready alert braking, rear cross path detection, adaptive cruise control capable of stopping the car if required, along with collision warning and avoidance—which is also capable of stopping the car. The 200’s electronic parking brake will engage automatically if the driver opens the door and unlatches the seatbelt while the transmission is in any of the forward gears or reverse.
Additionally, Chrysler’s Uconnect access service will call 911 automatically in the event of a collision. The 200’s Enhanced Accident Response System turns on the interior lighting and unlocks the doors after an air bag deployment; in addition to shutting off the flow of fuel to the engine.
2015 Chrysler 200 First Drive Review: Engines and Transmissions
Two engines are offered for powering the 2015 Chrysler 200 at launch. The base powerplant is a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder producing 184 horsepower and 173 ft-lbs of torque. The front drive powertrain mates to the engine through the aforementioned nine-speed automatic transmission, and is standard with all four trim levels. As of this writing (3.22.14) the EPA has yet to release fuel consumption figures for the four-cylinder front-drive 2015 Chrysler 200 models. But fuel economy with the four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive is estimated at 35 miles per gallon on the highway.
Optional for 200S and 200C are a 3.6-liter V6 producing 295 horsepower and 262 ft-lbs of torque. These two engines are delivered with a version of the nine-speed calibrated for improved performance as well as optimal fuel economy. All-wheel drive is also offered as an option with the V6 engine. This configuration is rated by the EPA at 18 miles per gallon in the city, 29 on the highway, and 22 miles per gallon combined. With its 15.8-gallon fuel tank, this gives the all-wheel drive version of the 200 a range of approximately 313 miles.
2015 Chrysler 200 First Drive Review: Driving Impressions
We drove both the 200C equipped with the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine and the 200S equipped with all-wheel drive and the V6. Our initial impression is the four-cylinder engine does an adequate, if not exciting job of motivating the admittedly fully loaded version of the new mid-sized Chrysler.
We were impressed by the quietness and smooth winding nature of the engine. The powerplant only called attention to itself aurally when under full throttle. Other than that it went about its business in a refined and unobtrusive manner. Yes, some planning is required to execute passing maneuvers, but the output of the engine doesn’t leave you feeling handicapped. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The four-cylinder 200C accelerates competently and holds its own at highway speeds in exemplary fashion.
As mainstream mid-size cars go, the four-cylinder 2015 Chrysler 200 is firmly in the hunt performance-wise. No, it isn’t shattering any records, but it isn’t lagging the field either. As far as handling goes, the 200C stays nice and flat when asked to corner. It understeers predictably, and feels a bit larger than it is when asked to shuttle quickly along a meandering stretch of asphalt. This is not to say the car handles poorly—in fact it handles quite well, it just doesn’t give you that ‘come on, let’s go get it” vibe. The 200 Limited’s character is a bit more laid back and content in its competence, rather than anxious to excel.
However, fold in the V6, all-wheel drive, and the sport suspension system, and the 200S is transformed into a more quickly steering, sharply responsive, corner carving, solidly accelerating sports sedan. It’s quite remarkable the difference between the two versions of the car. That said, the 200S does ride a bit more stiffly than the 200C, but it turns in more adroitly and handles much better too. While you won’t mistake the Chrysler 200S for a 3 Series BMW, you will have fun driving it if you’re inclined to push your car a bit every now and then.
2015 Chrysler 200 First Drive Review: Final Thoughts
All in all, the 2015 Chrysler 200 is SO a better car than the model it replaces—in absolutely every way possible. Granted, it wasn’t a very difficult bar to clear, but still. Whether you consider the new 200 in terms of its looks, comfort, convenience, tech, power, performance, or fuel economy—you have to hand it to the Pentastar people; they really did build something nice here.
The all-wheel drive option is currently matched by only one competitor—Ford’s Fusion. And, no other competitor currently offers the Chrysler’s nine-speed transmission. Yeah, nitpickers can say Chrysler’s mid-size model has no hybrid option, which is something Fusion, Malibu, Accord, Camry, and Altima can claim. But this is also the first year of Chrysler’s mid-size sedan, so who’s to say what the future holds?
And yes, interior volume is a challenge for the Chrysler as well. That sleek coupe-like profile limits rear headroom. Plus, rear-seat legroom is better in pretty much every other car in the category. So, while the new Chrysler is nice, it does trail the competition in those areas. However, where it bests them all is in the looks department. With this new Chrysler 200, the company can easily claim it has the best-looking popularly priced mid-sized sedan on the road—both inside and out. It can also claim a distinctive personality for the model.
With that said, Accord, Altima, and Camry probably don’t have great deal to fear from the new 200. The people who buy those cars are so firmly brand loyal; it’ll take something exceptionally bombastic to move them. And, as nice as it is, the Chrysler probably won’t do it for most of them. However, Fusion and Malibu should be put on notice; Chrysler’s entry isn’t going to be an also-ran in the American car sales race anymore. The established order among the domestics is now officially in play.