Redesigned for 2015, Chrysler's 200 is the brand's entry into the highly competitive midsize sedan segment occupied by the best-selling Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Stacked with new powertrain options and new features, the 200 includes a thoroughly modern interior, offering competitive safety and technology amenities.
What Is It?
The 2015 Chrysler 200 is a redesigned midsize sedan that's available in front- or all-wheel drive. Its wheelbase is about an inch shorter than that of the outgoing 200 and shorter than the current Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Overall length, width and height, however, exceed those models. Interior space improves this year as well.
Two engines are available, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 184 horsepower and a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 295 hp, both paired with a segment-first nine-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available only with the V6.
Our S trim tester is one of four trim levels: LX, Limited, S and C. Both the V6 and all-wheel drive are available on S and C trims. LX models start at $22,695 and our well-optioned S AWD model stickered at $34,465.
How Does It Drive?
Possibly the most unique experience from driving the 200 is using its rotary-knob shifter, which is mounted on the panel spanning the dashboard and the center console. Though it takes some getting used to, the knob-style shifter is functionally useful for at least one solid reason: It's augmented by steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. It's also well placed and consumes minimal space, both of which are virtues.
Otherwise, the 200 is amply powerful when optioned with the V6. Our test car hit 60 in only 6.2 seconds, which is on par with other V6-powered midsize sedans. Manual shifts from its nine-speed automatic are lazier than we'd like, but downshifts are rev-matched. In Drive, the nine-speed seamlessly swaps between cogs with little interruption in power delivery. You'll never know there are so many gears available, as the transmission disappears under the engine's substantial output.
Four-cylinder versions are a pleasant surprise as well. Though it isn't the quietest or smoothest engine in this class, there's plenty of power for passing and merging on the highway.
Steering weight is heavier than in many rival sedans but it's not burdensome. Sport mode (one click past "Drive" on the shifter) increases steering weight, throttle sensitivity and shifting to better suit aggressive driving. Ride quality, due in some measure to optional 19-inch wheels, is taut in the S model. But the 200 lacks any kind of rewarding driving experience that might justify its ride. Most customers will prefer the smoother ride of the other trim levels, which are better suited for highway cruising and still provide adequate control in most situations.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Does It Deliver?
The obvious point of a transmission with so many gears is to achieve good fuel economy, which the 200 does given its ample power. All-wheel-drive 200s are EPA rated at 22 mpg combined (18 city/29 highway). Our test car produced 27.5 mpg on our 116-mile test loop, which is mostly highway miles but also includes mountain roads. Four-cylinder 200s earn 28 mpg combined (23 city/36 highway).
Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBoost-powered Fusion, which makes 64 fewer horses, is available with all-wheel drive and rated at 25 mpg combined. The 2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R will offer 256 hp, and Subaru estimates it will earn 23 mpg combined.
How Safe Is It?
Neither the federal government (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has conducted crash tests on the 2015 Chrysler 200. However, the outgoing model was rated favorably by both.
Stopping from 60 mph required only 119 feet, which puts it among the best-stopping midsize sedans. Antilock brakes, stability control and 10 airbags — including knee airbags for both the driver and the passenger — are standard. A rearview camera is only standard on top-trim C models and isn't available on the base (LX) trim. Rear cross-path detection is standard on S and C models.
Though they weren't present on our tester, the 200 brings several new safety technologies to the midsize segment. Adaptive cruise control with the ability to bring the car to a complete stop, forward collision warning with autonomous braking and a park assist feature are all available.
What Kind of Technology Does It Offer?
Most tech features are packed into the 200's Navigation and Sound package, which is optional on S and C trims. Included in the package are an 8.4-inch touchscreen for the GPS-based navigation system, audio system and settings control. The screen is high-resolution and the system is among the easiest to use and quickest to learn.
A mobile phone app allows remote start as well as door locking and unlocking functions. The 200's UConnect Access service will read incoming text messages and provides voice-to-text services for outgoing text messages. On-demand WiFi connectivity is available for a fee in cars equipped with UConnect Access.
Two 12-volt outlets, a USB port and an aux jack are standard on all trims. Bluetooth connectivity is standard on all but the base LX trim, where it's optional.
How Comfortable Is Its Interior?
Chrysler uses some interesting design features to maximize space inside the 200. The merging of the center stack on the dashboard and the center console between the seats is more effective here than in other cars where this trick has been employed (think Lincoln MKZ) largely due to the functionality of the shifter and location of the electronic parking brake button, both of which are quite intuitive.
The unusual packaging also creates a "bridge" over the footwell area, which functions as usable storage. There's a clever pass-through for a charging cord and the two-section center console offers more space than most.
Our car was optioned with the leather-trimmed/vented sport seat option ($995), which adds leather interior appointments, heated and ventilated front seats and a six-way power-adjustable passenger seat. A heated steering wheel is optional on all but the base trim.
Front-seat comfort is admirable with the optional sport seats. Space, however, is compromised by the 200's long, sweeping roof-support pillars both front and rear. Front-seat occupants, though they'll have enough space, will be aware of the front-most pillar's proximity simply because of its width. Rear-seat passengers taller than 6 feet may lack headroom. Sense of space, too, isn't as good as the class leaders, which maximize the perception of room with less shapely bodies.
At 16 cubic feet the 200's trunk offers more space than the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Mazda 6. Its 60/40-split folding rear seat also includes a small trunk pass-through under the fold-out armrest.
What Are Its Closest Competitors? 2014 Honda Accord Sedan: No conversation about midsize sedans is complete without mention of the current Accord. Its combination of packaging, efficiency and performance is strong.
2014 Toyota Camry: A long reputation for durability and reliability get the Camry on the consideration list as well. This is the no-frills entry in the segment, but it's highly practical, roomy and efficient.
2014 Ford Fusion: Available with all-wheel drive and thoroughly modern, the Fusion is a relevant choice thanks to solid tech and safety features.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
Because it's unusual in the segment, all-wheel drive is a major selling point for the 200. But this is a genuinely nice car. Upper trim levels offer interior quality that's higher than it's ever been from Chrysler, and its infotainment system is among the most full-featured and easy to use on offer. The 200's numerous safety features are attractive and its five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't hurt, either.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
If your sedan needs involve carrying large adults in the backseat often, there are better choices on the market. That's no small criticism in a class with a huge premium on space. However, you should experience it for yourself before making the call because the positives certainly outweigh the negatives with the new 200.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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