By on January 16, 2014

200 intro

Please welcome Juan Barnett to TTAC.

While sitting in a Mossy Oak Ram, a very-real and very-camouflaged version of Ram’s 1500, I watched the all-new Chrysler 200 roll on to the stage in Detroit. After crowning the 200 as Chrysler’s flagship sedan (Sorry 300!) in his speech, the Chrysler executive went on to tell the crowd that they were likely familiar with the 200′s platform, because of cars like the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

What about the Dodge Dart or Jeep Cherokee? They too share the same platform and are American offerings. Even though Chrysler made it a point to refrain from mentioning the Dodge Dart during the reveal, the 200 can’t hide its similarities to its C-segment sibling thanks to their shared CUSW platform.

Unlike the very bold, dare I say striking, Jeep Cherokee, the 200 shares many design elements found on other vehicles today. While this homogeneous design is more attractive than the previous 200, I don’t believe aesthetics will be the major factor for buyers.  Instead they be more keen to look at total brand, price, driving dyanmics and fuel economy, not in any particular order.

Rather than provide a critique of the 200 based on objective measures, like design, which amounts to a circular debate of vanilla-vs-chocolate, I want to delve into the data. We’ll look at previous volume for the 200, see where it sits in the terms of competitor volume and fuel economy.

What does success look like for the 200?  – It’s a question many people at the show were discussing. If the 200 moves one more car than it did before the redesign, is that success? Is Chrysler shooting for 20% volume growth, with goals of stealing market from its American rivals, Malibu and Fusion? Now that the car is part of a larger shared platform, can volumes be lower?

The 200: 2010-2013

200 VOLUME

This graph represents sales of the 200 from 2010-2013. Spring is either the season for peak car buying,  incentive spending, or fleet turnover as 200 sales, especially 2012 and 2013, spike between March-June.

In 2013 Chrysler sold 124,493 200s , which is impressive seeing that the automaker only moved 40,495 units in 2010.

The Midsize Picture

Midsized Car Volume

Camry, Accord and Altima dominate the U.S. midsize sedan market. Based on this graph, the 200 should take aim at models like Optima, Fusion, Sonata and Malibu – but is that what Chrysler intends to do?

During the show I overheard someone on the floor say that with the addition of all wheel drive and improved looks the 200 could rival the Audi A4. I pray executives don’t have or ever get similar ideas. The 200 is not a luxury car. All that glows (LED) does not glitter (luxury).

Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy

The nine-speed automatic is standard in the 200 and when combined with the 2.4L I-4 the car is expected to achieve an EPA-estimated 35 MPG on the highway while the 3.5 V6 will get closer to 31MPG on the highway. The all-wheel-drive system is only available on V6-equipped cars. I expected a larger gain in fuel efficiency from the nine-speed transmission and based on comments by Sergio, so did he.

Chrysler tells me 35MPG is “very competitive” for the midsized sedan segment. According to the graph above the most fuel-efficient 200 will compete well against a Subaru Legacy or Dodge Avenger.

200

Plenty of unknowns remain for the 200 such as driving dynamics, appearance of base model, fleet volume and fuel economy. But the new 200 is a leap forward from the previous car in terms of technology and interior materials. Having just spent 3 days in a base model 200 I can say with certainty the new 200 is better and Chrysler raised the bar. Then again the bar was so low it was lying in a puddle of mud at the local car rental lot.

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137 Comments on “Analysis: Defining Success For The New Chrysler 200...”


  • avatar
    Pch101

    I suspect that the car will deliver fairly mediocre sales, that it will be sold largely on price, and that it won’t matter much.

    I think that we’ve just about reached Peak Midsize Sedan, as Americans migrate to crossovers. The 200 shares bits with the Cherokee, and **that’s** the vehicle that matters most. And Chrysler Group is well positioned to have a home run, or at least a solid triple, with that.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a bet with someone at the Cherokee will not outsell the redesigned Rogue.

    • 0 avatar
      Juan Barnett

      I plan on, at some point in the near future, looking closer at the Cherokee. In the intital research I did on those buying the vehicle it appears to be conquesting outside of the entire Chrysler umbrella. Also, the take rate on the Trailhawk, which is likely Jeep’s biggest profit maker for the Cherokee, is at 21%.

      It’s very early on to make any bold predictions for Cherokee, but if they can continue to move inventory, avoid any (further) mechanial issues they could have a hit on their hands. Both in terms of sales and foot traffic.

      We have to keep in mind that where they sale Jeeps they also sale Chrysler, Dodge and Ram. The wife comes in to buy a Cherokee and dad decides the EcoDiesel Ram is just what a Townhouse Cowboy needs for the weekend Home Depot run.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “The wife comes in to buy a Cherokee and dad decides the EcoDiesel Ram is just what a Townhouse Cowboy needs for the weekend Home Depot run.”

        On another note, I think that Chrysler is betting on the wrong horse by leading with diesels to achieve CAFE compliance. I can appreciate that Chrysler’s R&D budget is limited, but people aren’t obliged to buy them.

        Jeep has a strong brand, and leasing can be used to work around reliablity issues. (Just ask BMW.) They’re also a relatively way cheap way to buy a semi-status vehicle, which helps to keep them moving.

        • 0 avatar
          Juan Barnett

          If Chrysler needs the diesels in these vehicles for global platforms (aside from Ram) then it isn’t just a CAFE play, but a global demand issue.

          But you are correct in stating they can’t lean solely on diesel especially given the slow roll out of the current offerings.

      • 0 avatar
        mjz

        The Cherokee never had any “mechanical” issues, but software programming issues. At least Chrysler waited to correct any such issues before selling them to the public and trying to correct the problem later. Looking at you Ford.

  • avatar
    frozenman

    Make it in a wagon version, with awd, 9spd auto and strong v6 it would be irresistible, Chrysler perceived quality or not. A great alternative to the Cherokee IMHO.

  • avatar

    First, I love the “quant” sort of data you guys are going to. Kudos.

    However, in this case, your bar chart is misleading. The stated intent is to compare the “best” model of each, but you’re interleaving Hybrid and Diesel options for several and that’s skewing your average. For example, the “best” Camry–the hybrid–boasts 39 MPG highway, but the volume 4-cylinder gets significantly less. They hybrid option is thousands more than the volume model with a different ROI profile versus the base.

    Point being: Avenger _might_ be the cheapest balance of acquisition cost and MPG. However, the the Altima CVT is a glaring competitor with a conventional (sorted) powertrain and big numbers.

    Looking at the big picture, the best Fiatsler can hope for here is similar to the way Hyundai evolved the Sonata in the Aughts: Rather uncompetitive, then competitive, then a strong player in the last redesign.

    • 0 avatar
      Juan Barnett

      I too had issue with this but at the end of the day if you look at segment and fuel economy, excluding luxury models, you can’t ignore diesel and hybrid. If anything it supports my position that 200 isn’t competitive when cars like Alitma get 38 with just a CVT and an old engine. And cars like Fusion in hybrid form get 47MPG.

      Don’t forget, a loaded 200 is $37,700. A Fusion hybrid SE while equipped with less frills is still $10K less at $27,000 and is fair to compare to the new 200.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks….hadn’t considered the price.

        Don’t see how they can hope to play in the Camcordima space with Chrysler’s middling reputationn and resale, nor with other niche players with differentiating features like the Subaru or the Mazda.

        Leaving aside the die-hard Mopar people (both of them), this is yet another dud launch. Good for them to pull the D-segment program out of the ditch it was in 5 years ago (Program Lead quit), but it’s a middling effort.

        Maybe the slight halo of the Ram trucks and the well-received UConnect will help them out.

      • 0 avatar
        mjz

        A loaded 200 has a 300hp V6, a 9 speed ZF transmission and AWD. A hybrid Fusion SE does not. Two totally different cars and customers. By the way, you can easily load up a Fusion Titanium AWD to $37,000. That’s the comparison to make.

      • 0 avatar
        mjz

        If you’d rather drive an Altima with a CVT to get (possibly) 3 more MPG, than god love ya. I’ll take a nine speed ZF designed automatic over a crappy JATCO CVT any day. To each his (her) own I guess.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Not quite a fair MPG comparison chart. Remove the hybrids and suddenly the 200 is a lot closer to the new norm, though even 35 MPG highway is now on the low side for this class. I just don’t see how the 200 breaks through the clutter with me too styling and no unique features compared to the class.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I agree the highway mpg is on the low side for the segment. But I can`t see how you can say it has no unique features – 7″ reconfigurable TFT screen and AWD are both unique for mainstream sedans (Legacy has AWD but is permanent). You may not want them but those are unique features. Your statement could have applied to any other of the 10 cars listed in the article.

      I would have classed the Fusion up with the Altima/Accord/Camry and have the 200 competing against the Sonata/Optima/Passat. I think Chrysler will view this a success if they have a greater % retail on a similar or greater volume with increased ATP’s.

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      Even if 35 MPG isn’t super high and not worth bragging over, 1-2 MPG at that level is like 3% more fuel use. Who cares? Add in the fact that it’s easy to game the MPG testing and many people care about how it actually drives/feels, I see it as a non-issue.

  • avatar
    sunridge place

    you really should strip out the hybrid highway epa numbers in your mpg chart for some of the models and put their 4 cylinder #’s for a better comparison.

    otherwise, you seem to be suggesting that they need a hybrid 200 to look better here?

    • 0 avatar
      Juan Barnett

      Yes. Either you are or you aren’t competitive in that segment. Buyers aren’t going to strip out a hybrid or diesel, why should I?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I do think that it would be more useful to compare like drivetrains.

        Most of the cars in this class are sold with a conventional four-cylinder engine. Comparisons of those particular models are the most relevant, as they represent the majority of the volume.

      • 0 avatar
        eamiller

        The hybrid Camry makes up only something like 8% of sales globally (probably less in the US percentage-wise). Diesel variants of vehicles probably have even lower take rates. They should be considered separate models.

        The big question is whether or not buyers of Camry LE 4-cylinders are swayed by the Hybrid’s fuel economy. I’m not sure that the Hybrid has that kind of halo effect.

        • 0 avatar
          Juan Barnett

          “Oh the Fusion gets 47MPG? Wow.”

          *Goes into Ford store*

          *Decides the Fusion SE is good enough*

          You assume it doesn’t have that effect, but the fact that people visit less than one store when they buy a car leads me to think that it not only can, but does have that effect on people. The ad people I talk to say they don’t spend millions touting the Fusion hybird because people are going to buy the hybrid, but because people are going to think efficent when they think Ford. Hope that makes sense.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If you’re arguing for a halo effect, then just compare the highest mileage vehicle in the respective lineups. A consumer who is influenced by a halo effect isn’t averaging all of the drivetrains when making a purchase decision.

          • 0 avatar
            philadlj

            Even though *NO ONE* has been able to get 47mpg in a Fusion Hybrid, or a C-Max Hybrid, for that matter, the fact that they get to tout those 47s shows that 1.) someone went to Pomona; and 2.) it definitely has an effect.

            The 200 is leaving the gate unprepared to do battle with the top dogs of the segment. Toyota, Honda, and Ford have now learned that you roll out all the options at the same time, so the one with the best mpg can be the poster child.

            Malibu went “hybrid” first with its Eco, with no cheaper alternative, and sales suffered.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        So, drop another couple hundred million (at least) into developing a hybrid and diesel for the 200 just so your chart looks better? I think not.

        Its a good piece…just a crappy chart on mpg.

        How about a chart showing the % of hybrids within the mid-size segment then?

        • 0 avatar
          Juan Barnett

          Should I exclude cars like Fusion EcoBoost too? It’s not the base engine car.

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            Sure…one is 34 mpg and the other is 37 mpg on the Fusion. Pick one.

            Just don’t mix up hybrids with non-hybrids to try and make a point. When you filter out the hybrids, you’ll see that most 4 cylinder mid-sizes come in around mid 30′s mpg highway.

            #1 in segment=Camry=35 mpg hwy
            #2 in segment=Accord=36 mpg hwy

            200 estimated 35 mpg highway…thus the quote of ‘very competitive’ seems accurate.

            Had you written a piece suggesting that the 200 needed a hybrid to compete based upon your chart, I wouldn’t have responded as I did.

          • 0 avatar
            TTACFanatic

            The 1.5 Ecoboost Automatic is the volume drive-train on the Fusion. No its not the base engine but I can’t imagine too many people are getting the base 2.5 engine.

            Regardless the economy figures for the new 200 are a tad disappointing. Everyone in the segment is doing something new(ish)* to get better MPG’s. Chrysler is the newest and just doesn’t measure up.

            *
            Ford Fusion 34 MPG(2.5)- 36 MPG(1.5 ecoboost)- Small turbo engines
            Nissan Altima 38 MPG- CVT
            Honda Accord 36 MPG – DI and CVT
            Mazda Mazda 6 38 MPG – Skyactiv suite of tech
            Toyota Camry 35 MPG- Oldest model in the bunch and still at least matches the 200 fuel economy. Given the CVT in the new Corolla and Honda Accord … expect it to go CVT sooner than later.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          You got the Accord HWY wrong, it’s 36 mpg.

      • 0 avatar
        mjz

        Because most sales are NOT hybrid or diesel models. Apples to apples.

  • avatar
    readallover

    I have heard plenty of good things about the new 200. I heard plenty of good things about the Malibu. Years back I heard plenty of good things about the Ford Contour. And one thing crippled them all: a sedan with little rear seat leg room.
    Everyone talks about the styling, the dashboard layout, the mileage etc…It is a SEDAN. People buy these thing to carry more than two people. GM has the same problem with the Regal and ATS.
    All these reviews are purely from the single drivers point of view. Real world shoppers look at more than that.

    • 0 avatar
      Juan Barnett

      I joked that I should have taken a car seat with me to the auto show as that would have made for a great post.

      The 200 lost a very small amount of headroom if I recall from the data. It gained about 87lbs too.

      My bigger issue isn’t rear legroom, but the egress of the back opening. In my older IS-F I had to run and dive into the back seat. Thankfully we didn’t have children (or friends) back then. This is why I will continue to advocate for a sliding door SUV.

      But I agree with you – cargo room is important. Should I get my hands on a 200, I fully intend to put both baby and grown humans in the back seat.

  • avatar
    Short Bus

    On first glance I like this car enough that I would certainly cross shop it with this segment’s leaders. If all checked out I could certainly see myself purchasing one over an Accord, Altima, or Fusion. The impressive spec sheet and attractive looks are just too hard to ignore.

    That said, upon closer inspection this car could be a complete dud. But we all know that.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      This is basically a sedan version of the new Cherokee, which is selling like hotcakes and getting rave reviews by actual owners for the powertrain, build fit and finish, and design/quality of the interior. So why/how could this be a “complete dud”?

      • 0 avatar
        Short Bus

        None of us have seen, or sat in, or driven one of these cars. You can’t know exactly how good a car is by looking at pictures and reading a couple of pre-release speculative articles.

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        The Cherokee also benefits from strong (positive) name recognition, from both the original Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee, and comes from a brand that most consumers don’t consider a joke in the market place (or more specifically, in its segment before you go off talking about the 300). A “complete dud” doesn’t necessarily mean the car is bad- just not good enough or doesn’t stand out enough compared to its competitors. The Dart is a perfect example of that (Although I wouldn’t call it a dud, more of a disappointment).

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The 200 will have the same impact in that segment as the Dart had in its class. Only there will be more fleet sales.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Oh gawd. The Row of Urinals Cherokee is striking?

  • avatar
    eamiller

    Personally, I think this car looks extremely good (I think Alex Dykes will probably agree with me). It is likely that nobody outside of car enthusiasts will realize it is a Chrysler. Right now, I think that’s a good thing. On paper, this car has the capability to change a lot of minds about Chrysler. I know it has for me.

    Now to drive the thing.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    >>Chrysler tells me 35MPG is “very competitive” for the midsized sedan segment. According to the graph above the most fuel-efficient 200 will compete well against a Subaru Legacy or Dodge Avenger.<<

    The chart is misleading. The Fusion gets below class ave MPG and the chart misleadingly puts it at the top. The Accord is too high too, except if it's the Hybrid , which does better than the Fusion.

    I think the 200 will make it very difficult for Ford to use its excess Fusion capacity, especially if it targets the Fusion's market, fleet sales.

  • avatar
    Ion

    The 200 is a pretty good looking car. I expect sales to slightly light up once the convertible is out.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    If they get rid of the Avenger I think they can sell pretty good. Maybe topping the Sonata which would be a good percentage gain and be proclaimed a success. Does Chrysler have any hybrids?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      That is a good point, if Avenger sales are stopped soon -some debate on when that will happen. Then some of those people will move to the 200 as they are in the same dealership.

      • 0 avatar
        Juan Barnett

        Once you subtract the Avenger from the lineup you only have one option left for a V6-powered midsize sedan, the 200.

        Those that aren’t engine cyclinder bias may pivot back to the Dart once Avenger is nevermore.

        Either way, Chrysler wins just as long as they stay in the same showroom and walk away with a Chryler Group product.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    It’s certainly a handsome piece, and I really like what I see in the interior. The big question, of course, is the driving experience. But it looks like they’re aiming for a near-luxury sort of package at a lower price. I just priced one of these out at Chrysler’s website – about $31,000 for a 200C with leather, nav and the Pentastar V-6. Not bad at all.

    I don’t see this as a breakthrough product that takes Chrysler to a different level in the marketplace (as the Sonata was for Hyundai, for example), but it will almost certainly sell better than the current model, and they won’t have to put as much money on the hood.

    I see this as a win for Chrysler. Hopefully the driving experience is up to par.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I hope this car sells well, though I doubt it will. The MPG figure is midpack at best, though this is the difference of 35 mpg vs 38 mpg, after you remove the hybrids and diesels. That amounts to $127 a year @ 15,000 miles/year, even with expensive SF Bay Area fuel. Anyone who can do grade school math shouldn’t care. The fuel economy is just a marketing problem (an admittedly serious one).

    I would have to see the small backseat for myself to decide how much of a problem it is. Derek said it was cramped at the NAIS, but I wonder how far back the front seat was. Maybe cramped relative to Passats and Accords? It is difficult for me to conceive of a midsize sedan that can’t accommodate someone 5’10″. It is definitely a problem for a midsize sedan if someone 5’10″ can’t sit behind a similar sized driver.

    I think the car looks great in the pics I have seen, and I consider the smaller than class-average size a feature rather than a bug (provided the car is smaller too, not just the interior). The slight MPG drop is a non-factor to me. Only the lack of a manual keeps it off my test drive list. I know 95% of potential buyers don’t care about that, so I hope this car does well since it looks like it will check almost all the other boxes.

    Unfortunately, I think a relatively cramped interior and a lower MPG number are going to hold it down. It is aggressively priced, which will help, but ideally people will look at a car because it is the most appealing, not because it is the cheapest.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I will be interested to see how it drives and how the interior stacks up. The interior volume is something like 101 cuft which is competitive and slightly more than the previous model. So it shouldn`t be cramped from the stats, but they could be misleading.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      The new 200 has MORE interior volume than the previous model, and no one bitched about the old interior space. Seems to be much ado about NOTHING. Most sedans are driven with one or two passengers anyway. If you are worried about a big backseat, buy a C/SUV.

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        You have to be careful with interior volumes number. Its about how its packaged, not the raw number itself. It is entirely possible for the interior volume to be technically larger but the car actually more cramped for the passengers.

        Don’t discount rear room space in the mid size segment- it is important for many families. Keep in mind that many customers probably already own a C/SUV, but they like having the space in the sedan in case they have to use it for some reason instead of the crossover.

        • 0 avatar
          Juan Barnett

          Also, interior volumes don’t account for things like egress into the backseat. The previous IS was so hard to get in and out and even harder with a car seat.

        • 0 avatar
          mjz

          Have you sat in the backseat of a Dart? I have and it has plenty of room. The 200 has a LONGER wheelbase than the Dart, and larger interior volume. And why would you assume that many customers already own a C/SUV?

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            Because the midsize segment that the 200 will be competing in primarily is aimed at families. Most families have 2 (or more) cars. Many have a CUV/SUV/Pickup/Minivan that acts as their primary means of transporting their kids- that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be able to use the sedan to haul around kids/babies in car seats if they have too.

  • avatar
    th009

    The 200 is actually pretty nice. I look forward to choosing my favourite colour from National’s extensive Chrysler line-up when I rent a car a few months from now.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    A lack of a hybrid option isn’t going to make or break this vehicle as the chart above suggests as it’s such a small part of the market. It’s powertrain options are competitive with the core of the market. Additional fuel mileage improvements will be added down the pipe to maybe add an MPG here or there for those who fixate on paper comparisons. The vast improvments in all areas of the car will definitely help the sales of the car in comparison to the outgoing model.

    The car itself, however, isn’t what will stop it from being a sales leader.

    • 0 avatar
      Juan Barnett

      Couldn’t one make the argument that an industry-leading fuel saving technology or “paper score” translates to interest in the brand if not sales?

      I’ve talked to many people who bought the Elantra after they heard “40 miles per gallon.” Today we know that isn’t the right number, but it was a statement, but didn’t it drive people who care about fuel economy to the brand?

      I think many assumed the nine-speed transmission and new design would lead to a 40MPG 200, but that clearly isn’t the case. I’m not going to stay the transmission is a failure, as it might be a lot of fun to drive. What I will say, and I believe Sergio would agree with me,it that the fuel economy scroes from the nine-speed are less than what many thought would be acheived with the transmission.

      So while the 200′s power train may compete on paper, middle of the pack isn’t really what you want when trying to gain attention in a crowded market.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Yes I agree completely, but it’s only part of the value equation. Chrysler decided to use it’s limited resources to strike at the heart of the market where they’ll get the best possible return on that investment. The core of the midsize market are not the mileage queens.

        The 200 won’t conquer the segment, but they’ll improve their sales figures over the existing model. How much remains to be seen.

      • 0 avatar
        mjz

        Unlike Hyundai and Ford, Chrysler may be cited MPG’s that are are not overly inflated, and represent more realistic numbers owners can expect in the real world.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          Unfortunately for Chrysler, Ford and Hyundai are currently perfectly allowed to cite those overly inflated numbers (and Chrysler has to use them in comparisons)- numbers that many consumers do not realize have been a challenge to meet in the real world.

  • avatar
    mjz

    One of the FEW things the Dart is always lauded for is the roomy interior it has, so how the hell can a stretched version of the Dart suddenly be cramped? It makes no sense.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      In a compact car, one might be content merely to fit in the back seat without tasting their spleen, while in a midsized car they don’t expect to scuff their shoes by having to jam them under the seat in front of them.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      The term roomy is context specific. A Chevy Spark is roomy compared to a golf cart. It is not roomy compared to a Honda Fit. The Dart is roomy compared to its Focus, Civic, Cruze, Corolla etc competition. It is not roomy compared to a Fusion, Accord, or Camry. People are questioning whether the 200 is stretched enough to match those vehicles.

  • avatar
    Juan Barnett

    UPDATE: Made changes to the chart to reflect non-hybrid and non-diesel power trains as many felt it was unfair to highlight best fuel economy by brand for their offering in this segment.

    Frankly I think the previous graph highlighted a large gap in this segment for many brands – a 40+ MPG car.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Thanks, the chart makes a much clearer comparison now.

      • 0 avatar
        Juan Barnett

        No problem. Input is welcomed as it makes the conversation better for everyone.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          This version of the chart actually helps your argument.

          The 200 offers competitive mileage for what it is, but there is no hybrid halo effect that could build the brand and possibly sell more cars.

          It would be interesting to divine whether the Fusion hybrid has helped to build the car’s credibility in the minds of shoppers (read: more like a Toyota), even if most of them don’t even seriously consider buying a hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      TTACFanatic

      Like the update but using the Accord manual MPG instead of the CVT is goosing things a bit. The CVT version gets 36 MPG … the one that accounts for 95% of sales.

      Fixing that means that the brand new 200 only gets better mileage than the :

      2.5l Ford Fusion – a carry over engine from the previous model.
      Subaru Legacy – AWD
      Dodge Avenger – old engine and transmission
      2.5l VW Passat – Outgoing engine, never praised for it fuel economy.

      Not exactly competitive.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        Well, all this mileage talk has been a more interesting discussion than the usual “if only they had a wagon version with a diesel, it’d sell like hotcakes” blather, if not much more meaningful. Like the sales guys at the dealership used to tell me, 99% of buyers just want to know what their monthly payment is going to be. A single-digit swing in gas cost per month isn’t going to mean jack. Let’s move on.

        • 0 avatar
          TTACFanatic

          Agreed, but I keep pressing the point because making an article based on FUD, and then only half correcting it when called out on it, is sloppy.

          This is Juan’s first article on TTAC and I see “creative” reporting of basic stats, (right off the bat) as a problem.

          The numbers are easy to find, and a little bit of extra reading would give you enough research for the graph to have valid comparisons.

          Why do it wrong when its so easy to get right?

          • 0 avatar
            Juan Barnett

            My first thought was, I’ll grab the best MPG from each vehicle that sits in the midsize segment. Ford has a midsize car that gets 47MPG. That is a standout/leader in that segment. Then everyone complained. “You can’t have a hybrid in the data since Chrysler doesn’t have a hybrid.” Yeah, that was kind of what I was trying to show. As for having the wrong numbers, I pulled these from FuelEconomy.gov to include the Accord.

            I guess I’m amazed at the number of people who say buyers will overlook hybrid and diesel cars when shopping the 200.

            It’s also interesting that on Chrysler’s website for the 200 they do a very large and attractive comparison for all types of specifications and measurements except fuel economy.

            I don’t have an agenda. Never have, never will. I simply thought that when it came time for marketing even with a nine-speed transmission it’s going to be hard to outshine the Fusion Hybrid with 35MPG even if you are competitive with the 2.5 Fusion.

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            Juan

            The point on your original chart was that you didn’t acknowledge that you were comparing apples (hybrids) to oranges (4cy). I don’t think anyone was accusing you of having an agenda there.

            Don’t be ‘amazed’ that people here question it. Your punch line about Avengers and Legacys seemed to be based on a comparison of low volume hybrids vs the mainstream 4 cylinder market.

            As a numbers guy, you should understand the $$ involved in trying to launch with those powertrains…do you really think Chrysler should be investing more millions into those small segments (hybrid and diesel) of the mid-size market?

            If you want to be a numbers guy, that’s cool…but you should look at the number of hybrids/diesels sold in the mid size segment and realize its a blip. BTW…a lot of those mid size hybrids end up in fleets for a variety of reasons…not that I’m knocking fleet sales.

            Welcome aboard….don’t be too defensive. And hey, why don’t you throw out a # where you think the 200 should be after it launches? The title of this was ‘Defining Success’ for the 200…what is success to you when its all said and done? 200,000 units per year? Do you know what their capacity is?

  • avatar
    mars3941

    The midsize segment is the largest selling for automobiles volume wise and competing with Camry, Altima and Accord is a tough row to hoe, even for the hot selling Fusion. Big rebates and dealer discounts will put enough 200′s out there but it won’t compete sales wise with the big boys. Even Chevy can’t with the Malibu.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Good analysis.

    While MPG numbers definitely have consumers attentions, the real world differences between 35 and 40 MPG are vanishingly small. If you drive 10K miles a year its just 36 gallons of fuel which is at best $130 per year. Other factors about the car such as space, comfort, quality, fiance rates and resale are much more important.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      This. And the EPA test cycle is hardly definitive, two cars rated a few mpg apart might get identical mileage in the real world. Whether most shoppers are smart enough to realize this is a question.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Unrelated to the 200, what does poor Mazda have to do to move the 6 off dealer lots? I don’t expect it to overrun Camries, Accords, or even Malibus, but I am surprised to see even the Avenger outselling it by almost 2:1 in 2013. Is that chart showing calendar year (which would include the redesigned 6) or model year?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I believe the new 6 went on sale in Q1 2013, so most of 2013′s sales would be of the new model.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      A shame as the Mazda6 is arguably the best design in the midsize segment.

    • 0 avatar
      Juan Barnett

      This is calendar year as reported by the automakers.

    • 0 avatar
      Short Bus

      I was under the impression that low 6 sales had to do with low manufacturing throughput…. I don’t know where I read that or how it got stuck in my head.

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        Certianly doesn’t help. The Avenger is also a fleet queen, the Mazda6 is not. The retail sales of the two models are no doubt closer than they appear in the graph.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          During 2012, Mazda6 fleet sales were at 52%, almost all of which were entirely rental.

          I’m not sure how the new one is faring, but the previous car can only be described as a tremendous flop.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            I’m looking for more recent numbers, but in 2011 69% of the Avenger’s sales were to fleets. I imagine it is slightly better than that now though.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Avenger was at 58% during 2012. As is typical of the segment, almost all of it was rental.

            Comprehensive data for 2013 won’t be available for awhile, at least not for free.

          • 0 avatar

            Where is a good place to obtain the data?

          • 0 avatar

            I think the CX-5 is the volume for the platform. It really seems like a repeat of 2003, when the first Mazda6 came out. Great platform (Ford stole it for the Fusion with many alterations), but eclipsed in every way by the 2003 Honda Accord.

            Decade later? Same problem.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            @harryc – The new Accord is a great car for its segment, but to say it eclipses the Mazda6 in every way is a stretch.

            Almost the entire midsize segment is functionally equivalent. I don’t see much to differentiate any of them except reputation, looks, features, and price.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Fleet Central/ Automotive Fleet has data that it gets from Polk, but it will be ages before the 2013 data is avaiable free of charge.

            Automotive News also gets data from Polk, and that should be more timely if you are a paid subscriber to the data service.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Mazda’s December sales report breaks out fleet and retail sales and it was something like 7-8% for the entire brand. The new 6 was intended to be heavily retailed, like the Accord. The old 6 was definately heavily fleeted and Mazda had said they wanted to move away from that.

            I cannot copy the link, but it is prnewswire.com

  • avatar
    mjz

    So the revised chart actually shows that the new 200, equipped with the usual segment 4 banger, actually TIES the Camry and Sonata, and is BETTER than the Accord and Fusion, yet has been excoriated for not being competitive. Just shows how numbers can be manipulated to convey any kind of tale.

    • 0 avatar
      Juan Barnett

      Exactly.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      It shows that Chrysler needs more efficient trims though. That 34mpg Fusion is just the base engine. There are still nonhybrid Ecoboost engines to choose from that get 37 mpg. For example, my local dealer has 8 Fusions with the base engine out of 36 total, and 4 hybrids less than $30,000 (7 hybrids total). The rest have various Ecoboost engines. Honda I4s with the right transmission get 36 mpg.

      Chrysler needs to do something for the people who actually DO care about mpg and will choose that with the highest that they can afford (and yes, they exist). That will probably be next year though.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        They exist, but are they worth chasing, given Chrysler’s small market share? I’d concentrate on getting the volume model right and build sales, before chasing Toyota and Ford in the (low-volume and high R&D cost) hybrid market.

    • 0 avatar
      TTACFanatic

      “Just shows how numbers can be manipulated to convey any kind of tale” – mjz

      Very true, since the new chart is using the 34 MPG Accord manual numbers not the 36 MPG CVT numbers and the Fusion numbers are from the 34 MPG 2.5L carryover engine, not the volume 36-37 MPG 1.6/1.5 Ecoboost volume engines.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Chart – the numbers wrong. Again.

  • avatar
    Loser

    “3.5 V6 will get closer to 31MPG on the highway”

    Doesn’t the 8 speed V6 in the Charger/300 get 31 highway? I wonder if the Charger/300 will steal sales from the 200 due to price/rebates.

    • 0 avatar
      Juan Barnett

      After looking at the website again, the car does get 31 MPG with the V6, which is identical to the bigger 300 V6.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      You all are easily shocked….hold your hats guys…

      The larger Avalon with a V6 get the same 31 mpg highway as the V6 Camry!!!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Attention B&B, the biggest difference in fuel economy between a compact, mid size, and full size car (of the same model year) is often CITY fuel economy NOT HIGHWAY fuel economy.

        So unless you do majority city driving and congested city parking, you might as well have a full size car for comfort on the highway.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Agreed on the first point, although I think most people use their cars in ‘city’ conditions, or a mix at best.

          My former xB1 was rated at 31/34, and because of the mostly commuter duty it saw, was pretty economical to operate. I regularly got 28-31 city, which is as good as any car made today.

        • 0 avatar
          Loser

          “So unless you do majority city driving and congested city parking, you might as well have a full size car for comfort on the highway”

          Exactly, especially if the real world transaction prices turn out to be close between the 200/300.

      • 0 avatar
        Loser

        I’m not shocked, just wonder why they bothered with a 9 speed if it doesn’t seem to help MPG. I would think the weight difference between the Avalon and Camry wouldn’t be as great as the 200 vs 300. Isn’t the Avalon based on the Camry with the same power train? I would expect the two Toyota’s to be about identical MPG wise.

        • 0 avatar
          sunridge place

          What transmission should they have used? The old 6 speed? Develop a new one just for the 200?

          Its not like this 9 speed was developed exclusively for the 200.

          As far as weight? I think my point was that highway fuel economy and weight don’t really have a lot to do with each other. The Honda Fit gets worse highway mpg than the Accord.

  • avatar
    George B

    My best guess is it will sell better than the Passat because there are more Chrysler dealers, but no better than the Malibu. Where it falls in that 100k/yr to 200k/yr range depends on price. If it’s price competitive with the Malibu and Fusion, it will have decent volume. However, if Chrysler has delusions that they are a luxury brand and price it high, sales volume will be low.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Well, I was interested in the V6 AWD, but that Oracle of Everything Automotive (no, not BAFO, he’s #2), Delorenzo at Autoextremist.com has comprehensively dissed the new 200. So anyone who thought it attractive is comprehensively incorrect. Period. There goes my interest, ahem.

    A sample of the vitriol this guy spews on his website follows:

    ” Let me get this straight: You guys studied one of the most competitive segments in the market. You allegedly did your due diligence while sweating over the details and you tweaked the nuances and gave it your best shot. And you come up with that? Let me just say this right up front, the new Chrysler 200 was such a massive yawn that if there was any doubt left that Fiat-Chrysler will be a Ram Truck and Jeep company going forward, it put paid to that notion in a hugely emphatic way. Have you ever heard the expression, “this car doesn’t photograph well, it looks much better in person”? Well, this isn’t one of those times. This is a car that doesn’t look even remotely as good in person as it does in the seriously massaged photos that accompany it. Not even close, in fact. Its derivative design is about as inspiring as one of Sergio’s charcoal gray sweaters and it borders on being claustrophobic on the inside, although the interior is nicely executed (I wouldn’t expect anything less from Chrysler lead interior designer Klaus Busse). With all due respect to the True Believers at Fiat-Chrysler who have done a tremendous job these last few years while tripping over their espresso-swilling Italian overlords in the hallways, the 200 not only isn’t a grand slam home run, it’s a pathetic grounder dribbled down the third base line that goes foul before it even gets close to the bag. Fiat-Chrysler will now be represented in the mid-size segment with a product entry, but that’s all. And that translates into giant steaming bowl of Not Good Enough.”

    And some poor know-nothing reader wrote in to object and was silenced by this:

    ” The 200 screams mediocrity. Period. – PMD”

    Well, that’s it then. If you even thought the 200 was worthy of consideration, you are obviously blind. Got it right from the top.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      >>” The 200 screams mediocrity. Period. – PMD”<<

      Judging from his opinions, mediocrity must be his business. The “authority” thinks the ATS coupe is "nicely drawn and tautly executed"
      http://www.autoextremist.com/storage/P1148574.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1389793006843

      for an inverted bathtub. The greenhouse reminds me of the Pinto, except the Pinto looks sportier.

      That guy could have been at Pontiac during its demise. Steering.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Nice to see the Sebring, er, 200, is still the auto journos’ favorite whipping boy. Sure, the design is derivative, like 99% of cars sold today. Is it more of a “massive yawn” than the Camry and Accord? People don’t buy mid-size sedans because they’re looking for excitement.

      I think it looks better than most in this segment, judging only by the photos I’ve seen.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Thanks for saving me from giving a click to that site.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    2.0l Hurricane Turbo on the way. Drivabilty will be the key for the success of the “Peoples Audi”. I bet the Pentstar AWD will be quite a tour de force.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    I don’t expect the new 200 to set the sales charts on fire, regardless of the merits of the car itself. It’s been a long time since Chrysler had a comptetitive midsize car, so they aren’t exactly front of mind for most buyers in this segment. And satisfied Camry owners aren’t going to look elsewhere as long as they are happy.

    I think this car can be considered a success if at least some of the following conditins are met:
    -It sells at roughly the same level as the outgoing car, but at a higher average transaction price, and a higher percentage of retail sales.
    -It has higher resale value than the outgoing car.
    -People who get one at the rental counter think “what a surprisingly nice car” instead of “what a typical POS”.
    -People who are dissapointed with the size of the rear seat leave the dealership in a 300 or Charger.
    -People who are dissapointed with the fuel consumption leave in a Dart.

    Right now sales of trucks are strong, so Chrysler can continue to make money selling Pickups and Jeeps for the next couple of years – but it’s a good idea for them to have competitive small and mid sized cars so that they have something to fall back on when tastes eventually change.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “It’s been a long time since Chrysler had a comptetitive midsize car, so they aren’t exactly front of mind for most buyers in this segment. And satisfied Camry owners aren’t going to look elsewhere as long as they are happy.”

      This pretty much sums up the challenge for this car to overcome to allow it, and Chrysler, to compete with the highest volume sellers.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    It’s not really luxury but the 200C is very competitively priced for the features you get. Of course the problem is that you can get a <1 year old CPO BMW 320i xDrive pretty well loaded for the same price and like it or not the BMW badge would give it about 100x more prestige than a loaded 200.

    Still, the price is tempting and I'll be in the market for a nice new car within a few months (changing jobs so just need to lock down a position before I commit to a huge financial obligation) and the 200 surprised me by actually making it somewhere into the contenders list. That said, given that it's a Chrysler and given all the transmission tuning issues they've had with the Cherokee I'm thinking someone else will have to be the guinea pig for testing just how reliable these cars are…I mean the combined Fiat and Chrysler heritage does not exactly instill vast confidence.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I realize some/many will disagree with me, but I still maintain that the biggest unknown & biggest risk regarding any deep-seeded Fiat underbelly product, be it the Dart, Cherokee or new 200 will be the reliability of the product, or potential lack thereof, to be more accurate.

    It’s one thing for Land Rovers & Jaguars to suffer from reliability maladies, leased, and leased on business expense accounts as they may be; it’s entirely another animal to speak of Fix It Again Tony problems with more mainstream priced offerings in the United States, where nearly everyone drives, depends on their vehicles as transportation to and from work, and drives far more greater annual distances than their European counterparts, on average.

    • 0 avatar
      eamiller

      Fiat and Chrysler both maintain separate requirements documents currently. This means that Auburn Hills maintains a significant amount of autonomy to source the components used in the car. The platform will define the hard points and things like suspension design, but from there Chrysler will bolt on their own parts, designed to their specifications. Fiat is involved in things like supplier tech reviews, but decisions are up to Chrysler engineering and purchasing.

      A few years from now, Fiat and Chrysler may harmonize their requirements and purchasing, but that isn’t happening now.

      I expect this car to have similar reliability to other recent Chrysler products (seems decent).

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Personally, I feel that just getting rid of the old 200/Sebring/Avenger smell and or stigma from dealer lots is a win for Chrysler. The Sebring/200 has been a whipping boy of the media and auto enthusiasts since its inception. It has been the punchline of the auto industry for too long. Cars like this drag down brand perception. I think it is enough to have a good looking, competitive vehilce on the market even if it doesnt materialize into increased profits. At least when driving down the street, people wont just assume you bought becuase it was the only thing you could afford. The fortunes of brands, nameplates, etc. dont turn around overnight, the new 200 is at the very least a big step in the right direction.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The EPA numbers for the complete 2015 200 lineup are published now. The 2.4L model gets a rating of 23/36/28, so you might want to update your chart. The 3.6L FWD rating is 19/32/23.


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