“America’s Import” Takes On the World
In the Fall of 2013, Chrysler launched their “Ready To Take On The World” marketing campaign for the all-new Chrysler 200. They followed that bold statement with their Super Bowl advertisement in January 2014 that created controversy and curiosity, announcing the Chrysler 200 was “America’s Import.” By doing so they made simple and clear statements: the 200 was here to take on the World of midsize sedans. Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Hyundai and Kia were, I can only guess, mildly amused and said a collective—Bring it on! So how did Chrysler do?
The 2015 Chrysler 200 comes with two power plants: the Tigershark I-4 and the Pentastar V-6. Clean Fleet Report drove them both over a two-week period beginning with the 2.4-Liter, DOHC, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder engine, with MultiAir and multiport fuel injection. This aluminum engine produces 184 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission,
delivering an EPA rating of 19 city/32 highway/23 combined. In 466 miles of 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving we averaged 30.8 mpg.
The 24-valve, 3.6 Liter V6 with Variable Valve Timing puts out 295 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, also through a nine-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels. The V6 has an EPA rating of 18 city/29 highway/22 combined. In 296 miles of 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving we averaged 27.6 mpg.
Both engines, using unleaded regular, ran smooth but are tuned for fuel efficiency, so even the extra power in the V-6 can’t really be counted on to make the 200S a high-performance car.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The Chrysler 200 is a stretched version of the Dodge Dart, reviewed here, which is based on the Alfa-Romeo Giulietta. The four-door 200C and 200S weigh in at a hefty 3,473 lbs., which showed-up in their handling feel. Turning was easy with the electric-assisted steering and the all-season low rolling resistance tires, but the heavy feel was always there with a slowness in the turning response. The ride, which could be considered firm, but not stiff, resulted in minimal push when driving hard into corners. Both models have front MacPherson struts with dual-reacting twin shock absorbers, mated at the rear with a multi-link independent suspension with dual reacting twin tube shock absorbers.
Both cars handled well with the 200S AWD, with 18-inch wheels, having a bit more grip and sure footing. Note that the 200S AWD system is a front drive car that utilizes the rear wheel drive primarily in bad weather conditions. Therefore, if you see a considerable amount of wet, icy or snowy weather where you live, you need to test drive the 200S AWD under those exact conditions. Living in Southern California, we just don’t have the opportunity to take full advantage of an all-wheel drive set-up, so please, go find some sloppy and slick roads and have at it.
Wind noise in both trim levels was minimal, but under hard acceleration the four-cylinder engine in the 200C made undeniable sounds as it was pushed to top speed. The nine-speed transmission had no problem imperceptibly finding the correct gear for whatever the demand. The only minor exception is when you’re on the highway and need to tromp the accelerator to pass; you can feel the transmission hunting through a couple gears until the right one is found for the needed power. None of this is really a negative as Chrysler has done a good job with their nine-speed transmissions.
Stopping is through power assist, four-wheel disc brakes with single piston front and rear calipers, and an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS). Stops were straight, with confidence and no diving when braking hard.
Driving Experience: Interior
The 2015 Chrysler 200 has a roomy interior that can handle five adults and a large trunk. As usual, though, on long trips the back seat would be more accommodating for two adults who could then stretch out and take advantage of the fold down center armrest.
Having also reviewed the Dodge Dart, I appreciate more and more the simplicity in the Dodge/Chrysler dash layout design. The 200 is non-flashy and almost minimalist with a contemporary look, tone and feel.
The dash with soft touch materials in both the 200C and 200S is nicely sculpted with an ergonomically laid-out combination of knobs, switches and buttons for the climate and radio controls that
are exactly where you want and need them. The optional Navigation and Sound Group package takes center stage in the dash and includes an 8.4-inch touch-screen display. The Uconnect system comes with a one-year subscription plan. The infotainment system is by far the most convenient and easy-to-use of all the cars I have tested, with an Apple iPad-like simplicity. The Alpine sound system has a 506-watt amplifier, nine-speakers with AM/FM/CD/MP3 and HD Radio with SiriusXM (one-year subscription included), voice command with Bluetooth, audio input jacks with iPod control and USB port.
The 200C had optional leather-trimmed and ventilated seats while the 200S had cloth with leather-trimmed sport seats. The heated and power adjustable driver’s seat in each model had memory, while the front passenger seat was also heated with manual adjustment. The heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel had audio and cruise controls. The rear 60/40 split-folding seat has a pass through and folding center armrest with storage and the got-to-have cup holders.
The Chrysler 200 has convenience features such as power windows with one-touch up and down, power door locks and exterior mirrors, A/C with automatic climate control and rear vents, floor mats, remote start, 12V and 115V power outlets, tilt and telescoping steering column, multiple cup holders, auto-dimming rear view mirror, rear view camera and cruise control.
Driving Experience: Exterior
Offered in eleven different exterior colors, the 200C and 200S have a new, sleek and contemporary exterior design with no unnecessary cladding or chrome work. The projector-type High Intensity Headlights (HID) and LED fog lights are integrated into the swept-back front end design that leads to a nicely sloping roofline, ending in a short trunk lid and a small, integrated raised lip edge.
Safety and Convenience
The 2015 Chrysler 200 has an Overall 5-Star National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rating, including frontal and side crash and a 4-Star rating for rollover protection. Safety and convenience features include 10 airbags, exterior mirror side turn indicators, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), traction control, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, remote start keyless and proximity entry system, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), ABS and Adaptive Cruise Control.
The Blind Spot system works when a car is on your right or left rear side, exactly where your natural blind spot would be. The warning appears as a yellow triangle in both exterior rear view
mirrors and, when lit, cut out the radio with a gentle beep. Once the offending car passes, all warnings end and the radio returns. Systems across the manufacturers are a bit different, but this one worked well, was unobtrusive and helpful.
The Rear Cross Path Detection is helpful when backing-up and a car, child or other moving object unexpectedly crosses behind your car. This works separate, but in-conjunction, from the ParkSense Rear Park Assist System and Rear View Camera. Also available on the 200 models is Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist with the Stop feature, and the Full Speed Forward Collision Warning system that under certain circumstances can bring the car to an automatic and complete stop.
Pricing and Warranties
The Chrysler 200 comes in four base models. Option Packages will add to these prices, including the $995 Destination Charge:
The 2015 Chrysler 200 models Clean Fleet Report was driving, including the $995 Destination Charge had an MSRP of:
200S AWD $32,775
All 2015 Chrysler 200 models come with these warranties:
- 3-year/36,000-mile Basic
- 5-year/100,000-mile Powertrain
- 5-year/100,000-mile Rust-Through
- 5-year/100,000-mile Roadside Assistance
Observations: 2015 Chrysler 200C and Chrysler 200S AWD
Chrysler proudly says that the all-new Chrysler 200 charts a new course for midsize sedans that will captivate drivers and passengers with its simple elegance and extraordinary driving experience. As an automotive reviewer, I read these statements after I have driven the car for at least a week, and see if I can match up the flowing praise with reality.
The 2015 Chrysler 200 certainly does have a sleek, contemporary design and a stylish, comfortable interior with an excellent infotainment and sound system. The advanced technology and driver assistance systems are on-par with the industry and the 5-Star Safety Rating is the best you can hope for. The Chrysler 200 also comes standard with a nine-speed automatic transmission and offers AWD, which is rare for the midsize category.
So far, so good, but is the Chrysler 200 charting a new course that will captivate drivers and passengers? Chrysler has a good story to tell with the 200, offering mid-thirties fuel economy and competitive pricing, but with such bold statements as above and in their opening gambit where they are “Ready to take on the World”, well maybe there is a bit of wishful thinking going on.
What you can be assured of is, after adding the Chrysler 200 to your shopping list and taking it for a lengthy test drive, especially those of you who can use an AWD car in wet, icy and sloppy climates, I think you just may agree with Chrysler that the 200 can take on the world.
Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!
Photos by John Faulkner and the manufacturer
Related stories on midsize sedans you might enjoy:
Road Test: 2014 Dodge Dart GT & Dart Limited
Road Test: 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid EX
Road Test: 2014 Ford Fusion Energi
Road Test: 2014 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Road Test: 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE Premium