The Chrysler 200 has a long and muddled history dragging behind it. Born from the ashes of the tarnished and dented Sebring nameplate, new parent Fiat wanted the 200 to stand tall with a collection of new engines, features and a new interior design. With its debut in 2010, it was obvious that Chrysler had the ability to recover from its past mistakes. For 2015 we have the new second-generation 200. It looks better, has a new transmission and the interior has been loaded with the best luxury and technology available.

I was impressed with the last 200 for its sudden refinement and quality over the car that birthed it, but I wasn’t sure if it was the best choice in such a competitive segment. With the 2015 car Chrysler is promising a lot has been improved in ride, comfort, luxury, and technology. As the swoopy four-door pulled into my driveway for my weeklong test, I was intrigued. I had more than 500 miles of hectic holiday driving ahead of me. I was ready to see if the 200 would be a willing companion.

Read on to find out more about the 2015 Chrysler 200C

  • 2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Transmission:
    9-Speed Auto
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    295
  • MPG(Cty):
    19
  • MPG(Hwy):
    32
  • Torque @ RPM:
    262
  • Displacement:
    3.6 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    145 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    26225
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Move to the profile and the squat greenhouse, blacked pillars and chrome trim around the glass make the 200 look more like a coupe than a luxury sedan.

While I never found the first Chrysler 200 to be a very attractive car, I must say that I find the new 2015 model to be quite the looker. With its low and swooping roofline creating a sense of speed and drama the new 200 looks dynamic and a bit aggressive. The new nose is sharper and cleaner than the old car it looks far more modern. The new light housing wraps gracefully around toward the front fenders, and the LED lighting that runs across the bottom looks like a set of wings.

The lower, front fascia has a chrome trim piece that swings upward in the center that serves to elongate the front end and make the whole car look a little lower. Move to the profile and the squat greenhouse, blacked pillars and chrome trim around the glass make the 200 look more like a coupe than a luxury sedan. New sculpting has been added to the doors and shoulder line to further enhance the low-slung stance.

In the back you will see the new trunk lid with its small integrated lip that acts as a drag reducing spoiler, and the new taillights with the futuristic looking light pipes that run around the outside edge. Like the rest of the car there is also subtle touches of chrome for that American luxury touch.

Two of the most outstanding features of our tester include the Lunar White Tri-Coat paint and the 19-inch alloy wheels. Both add an extra dash of excitement and visual interest to the car’s look.

Interior

2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven Interior
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2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven Interior
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2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven High Resolution Interior
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In a nod to usability, there are multiple cubbies and storage pockets that include door pockets, a huge glove box, a gigantic center console with movable cup holders and a special under dash storage pockets.

The interior of the old Sebring was easily the worst part of the car. For the original 200 Chrysler made huge leaps in terms of fit, finish and quality. Now with the 2015, the 200C has completely abandoned its econo-car roots for a cabin that is filled with leather, metal and real wood. The dash, door panels and center console all feature the wooden veneer. With its thin matte lacquer the wood looks and feels amazing.

Apart from the high-end materials the 200C also has great interior design. The angles, curves and cuts of the dash, steering wheel and even the seat stitching all look much nicer than the car’s price tag would suggest.

In a nod to usability, there are multiple cubbies and storage pockets that include door pockets, a huge glove box, a gigantic center console with movable cup holders and a special under-dash storage pocket. With a car that feels built to swallow hundreds of miles at a time, I appreciate the focus on ease of organization.

Technology and comfort features abound in our 200C tester. The front leather thrones are heated and cooled with multi-way power adjustment, a Uconnect 8.4 system with navigation handles all the infotainment duties, and the dual-zone climate control did a great job of keeping temps in check. On the safety front our car had automatic high beams, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, parking assist and forward collision detection.

If there is a bell or whistle that you want, this car can come equipped with it.

Drivetrain

2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven Drivetrain
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Sadly, I never say numbers that high in my testing, rather I hovered around the 26 mpg mark despite doing mostly highway driving.

The Chrysler 200 ships with the Fiat-designed 2.4-liter MultiAir engine dubbed “Tigershark” that produces 184 horsepower. But for real power and speed, our 200C tester came with the venerable Pentastar V-6. This 3.6-liter engine is good for 295 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Every 200 that hits the sales floor also comes with a fancy new nine-speed automatic transmission; something no other car in the class can claim.

While there is an option to get the 200 with all-wheel drive, our tester came with front-wheel drive.

The big advantage to using that new nine-speed transmission is a bump in fuel economy. Chrysler claims the 200 is good for a mediocre 19 mpg in the city, but an outstanding 32 mpg on the highway. Sadly, I never saw numbers that high in my testing, rather I hovered around the 26-mpg mark despite doing mostly highway driving. This has to do with the topography of Tennessee, and the huge ratio gap on the transmission.

Pricing

2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven Exterior
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Despite being the most expensive model in the 200 lineup, the 2015 200C starts at just $26,325. That price can quickly move upward as our tester can prove. That beautiful Lunar White paint is a $595 charge, and those fancy 19-inch alloys added another $995. The navigation system upgrade with nicer stereo was $1,395. Grabbing the V-6 engine piled on another $1,995, and there are several other additional extras as well. All told, our 200 tester came to final price of $35,285 after destination.

Driving Impressions


The drive of the Chrysler 200C is boring and uninspired, but for this class that is kind of a good thing. The engine is generally hushed, the transmission goes about its business in the background without disturbing passengers and the acoustically insulated glass makes sure the cabin is as quiet as anything wearing a Lexus badge. It’s boring, yeah, but it makes for an incredible highway cruiser.

To be completely fair to this class of car, that is all most buyers want. They are all looking for a great and comfortable car that surrounds them with style and luxury, but it needs to fade into the background. With the smooth action of the nine-speed auto and plentiful power within that Pentastar V-6, the 200 does an incredible job of disappearing into the commute. The cabin is quiet, the seats are comfortable the effortless speed mean that your journeys just pass you by as you sit in your cocoon of serenity. It is the perfect car for the long commuter.

When you break away from the highway to trace down the back roads the car is less inspiring. The steering is lighter than I would prefer, the brakes are far from stellar and the body roll is too severe for legitimate handling performance. The shape may make you think it’s a performance-oriented car, but it is not. I’m not sure I could own a 200 as my only car, I crave a road carver, but as the machine I had to take my long highway drive home for the holidays, it was perfect.

2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 608425

Part of its competence on the highway comes from its suite of driver aids like lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. Thankfully, if you are a driver who likes to leave most of these things off, the designers at Chrysler have added a button that is within quick reach for each individual item. One quick press is all it takes to kill each system.

My largest complaints overall about driving the 200C are minor, but they do exist. That low roofline looks awesome outside, but it does make the cabin feel a little small, and it hampers outward visibility. The wood and chrome inside looks great, but the metal ring that runs the full diameter of the steering wheel feels unnaturally cold. This is most noticeable when you have the heated steering wheel on. It’s almost distracting to be holding a very warm steering wheel while also having a freezing cold strip running through the center of your palm.

And then there is the issue with the nine-speed auto and fuel economy. To reach ninth gear, you need to be traveling at full highway speed thanks to its ultra-high ratio. This means that even at 75 mph the engine is barley turning over 1,500 rpm, but this also means the engine is making no power. The number one reason my fuel economy was so low was simply that the car wouldn’t stay in ninth gear. At even the slightest incline the car would shift into eighth gear to have enough power to climb. Some slopes would even see the car shift again to seventh. The car was actually slightly more fuel efficient with the cruise control set at 80 mph rather than 75 just so the car would stay in top gear more often. Since the car shifts so smoothly, most people would never even notice, but if you live in a hilly region of the country that transmission is less efficient than it could be.

Competition

Toyota Camry

2015 Toyota Camry Exterior
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The king of the midsize segment is obviously the Toyota Camry. As one of the best-selling cars of all time, the Camry is the benchmark by which most buyers measure future car purchases. From a simple price standpoint, its easy to see why the Camry would be chosen over the 200, as a top-level Camry XLE is about $1,000 less than our Chrysler.

That extra grand does buy you a lot of extras though.

With just 268 horsepower coming from the optional 3.5-liter V-6, the Camry is down on power and speed. The Camry’s six-speed automatic is also behind the times compared to the nine-speed box in the Chrysler. Those extra gear ratios also give the 200 better fuel economy; the Camry is only rated at 31 mpg on the highway. With real wood and chrome inside, the 200 even has a nicer interior. The Camry does take the crown for airbags thanks to extras like knee airbags, but it lacks some of the more advanced tech systems like the lane-keep assist.

The Camry has been the car to beat for years now, but now it seems that for just $1,000 more than the price of a good Camry, you can get a much better 200.

Volkswagen Passat TDI

2015 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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If you don’t need the flashy looks or extra horsepower of the 200, the new Volkswagen Passat TDI should be on the list of potential candidates for great commuter car. The interior doesn’t feature huge slabs of real wood, but the Passat is just as well built as any other car in the class, and the interior is one of the largest you can get so everyone is sure to be comfortable. While that 2.0-liter TDI engine under may sound woefully underpowered with its 150 ponies, but with 236 pound-feet of torque available at just 1,750 rpm the Passat has brisk acceleration in most any condition. Along with the gobs of torque, the Passat also comes with a fairly sophisticated suspension setup that gives the VW superior handling compared to both the Camry and 200.

The real feather in the cap of the Passat comes courtesy of its price and fuel mileage. With a price of less than $34,000 for the highest trim level TDI, the Passat is almost $3,000 cheaper than the Chrysler. But thanks to the new engine in the 2015 Passat TDI, the EPA-rated highway fuel economy is 44 mpg. Thanks to a larger fuel tank, the Passat has an effective range of more than 800 miles. Depending on your commute that could be an entire month of driving without needing to fill up.

The Passat is incredibly well built, incredibly comfortable and it has that traditional, handsome German design, but it lacks much of the more modern infotainment and safety equipment that comes with the Chrysler. Your choice comes down to sharper looks and more technology against incredible fuel economy and a slightly better drive when the road goes crooked.

Conclusion

2015 Chrysler 200C - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The last 200 was a good car, but I didn’t expect much of an improvement for the new 2015 car. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The new design is beautiful, the interior quality is worthy of an Audi, and the noise and comfort levels encroach on Lexus. The new 2015 Chrysler 200C is far from my preferred machine in terms of something I would buy, but this machine is a perfect demonstration of how far American cars have come in the last decade. If it was my money I would never park a Camry, Altima or Accord at home over the 200. It really is that good.

  • Leave it
    • * Nine-speed auto gears are spaced too far
    • * Low roof line looks great, but cuts into outward visibility
    • * Chrome ring in steering wheel is cold
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