The midsize car segment is the biggest and most competitive in the country. Imports from Honda and Toyota dominate it, particularly popular among Latino car buyers. Chrysler hopes to compete with its all-new 2015 200 midsize sedan. Its good looks and amenities will certainly give it game.
“The all-new Chrysler 200 lays the groundwork for the future of the Chrysler Brand,” says Al Gardner, president and CEO—Chrysler Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “It involved a three-year process because we wanted to build something fantastic.”
This has not been a good segment for Chrysler, starting with the 200’s precursor, the Sebring. The hapless sedan just couldn’t capture consumer appeal. At the recent launch in Louisville, Kentucky, however, the new 200 gained immediate attention for its styling. The “new face of Chrysler” includes the updated Chrysler winged badge, signature light pipe headlamps, standard LED tail lamps, rear spoiler, and a European profile. Like the Dodge Dart and Jeep Cherokee before it, the 200 will also be based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform.
But in a segment this competitive, the advantage usually comes down to the details and the 200 stands out with game changing technology.
For starters, it’s the first Chrysler product to feature the nine-speed automatic transmission, standard on all 200s. The clear star of this driving experience in Louisville, additional gear ratios optimize performance by precisely matching the gear state to the most efficient engine operating condition. This was evident, from zero-60 acceleration to deceleration on curvy roads. There’s also a sport-driving mode for added performance.
The transmission is not only a performance enhancer, it’s a fuel saver. Powered by two available engines, the base inline 2.4-liter four-cylinder produces 184 horsepower and has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 23 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Considered best in class, the available 3.6-liter V6 offers 295 horses. On the road, the 200 was quiet and peppy, even with the base four-cylinder engine.
For car buyers who appreciate the added control of all-wheel-drive (AWD) but not the loss of fuel economy, the 200 offers AWD technology that engages only when it detects slippage, operating in front wheel drive the majority of the time to save fuel.
No discussion of technology can exclude safety features and the 200 offers 60 of them, more than its competitors. Standard features include airbags with knee protection and side curtains, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and traction control. Available features like ParkSense rear backup sensors, ParkView rear backup camera, blind spot monitoring, and Rear Cross Path Detection are well worth the added investment. Unfortunately, they’re not available throughout the lineup.
On the inside, timeless American design based on simple elegance that includes high-quality materials, epitomized by the Eames chair, Airstream travel trailers, or Apple iPhone, inspired the 200’s designers. Attention to detail is apparent, like the blue backlit instrument cluster with an available seven-inch configurable display, the pass through storage space below the center stack with rubber lining stamped with the Detroit skyline, or the sliding armrest and storage. Storage, in general, on the new 200 is pretty plentiful.
The use of quality materials includes available leather seating with accent piping and real wood accents, a segment exclusive.
The base trim model, LX, is basically sold as-is but does include keyless entry, push-button ignition, air conditioning, a steering wheel with audio controls, the vehicle information center in the instrument cluster, and a Uconnect five-inch touch screen display for the AM/FM stereo. CD players are optional across the lineup.
Available in four trim levels, pricing for the 2015 200, including destination fees, starts at $22,695.