By on March 19, 2014

photo (9)

Calling the 2015 Chrysler 200 an “improvement” would be damning it with faint praise. Rather than condemn it as one of the worst cars to grace our roads, I think it’s safe to say that the outgoing version was rather dated and uncompetitive, even if the 200, and its former Dodge Avenger platform-mate, had a small but vocal following among a subset of TTAC readers.

When the wraps came off the all-new 200 at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, it didn’t look as if Chrysler had gotten their act together. Under the bright lights of Cobo Hall, the 200S that was displayed looked like the gawky,uninspired pastiche that resulted from a Chevrolet Impala had mating with a Dart. The faux-mag wheels and edgy blue color felt like Chrysler was trying a little too hard, and both myself and Juan Barnett were left unimpressed.. If Chrysler botched this, it would be the third consecutive launch gone awry, and strike three for the much touted, Alfa Romeo derived CUSW platform that is set to underpin much of their car and crossover lineup in the future.

Luckily, they didn’t botch it. Far from it. The Dart may have been hampered by its powertrain, and the Cherokee may have been handicapped on-road by its off-road aspirations. The 200 appears to have avoided the kind of fatal compromises present on those cars.

That model you see at the top of the page, dubbed the Limited, is expected to be the volume trim, and I think it looks rather elegant with its muted silver paint and smaller wheels. I still find the added visual drama of the 200S and 200C (which are supposed to be Chrysler’s version of BMW’s Sport and Luxury Line trims, respectively) to be a bit much – mostly the  contrived faux-performance of the 200S. When it comes to family sedans, I like the natural look – give me an Accord EX 6MT over the Sport any day.

photo (10)

Ironically, the 200S and 200C (above, in silver and black) were what was available on the drive event, and the extra helping of sportiness outside didn’t matter much once inside the car. These versions had the best of what Chrysler has to offer, namely the Pentastar V6 engine and the UConnect 8.4 system, which is undoubtedly the best infotainment system on the market. The big UConnect system seems to have best mastered the balance between touch screen capability while still offering large, easy to manipulate tactile controls that can be operated without having to take your eyes off the road. Just aft of the UConnect center stack is a new, Volvo-style floating console, with a Ram-derived rotating shift knob and trick sliding shelf that hides the USB and auxiliary jacks.

2015 Chrysler 200S

Best of all, the examples on hand exhibited none of the sloppy details or questionable interior pieces that were present on the Cherokee. Everything appeared to be well put together, with high quality materials and exemplary fit and finish. A future review of a rental unit will be the true test of how the 200 holds up, but if Chrysler can maintain this level of quality once production ramps up, it could have a shot at the best interior in the segment.

photo 2

This impression was only furthered by the competitive vehicles that Chrysler had on hand – an Accord EX V6 sedan, a 4-cylinder Camry SE, an all-wheel drive Fusion 2.0 EcoBoost SEL and a 2.5L Altima. The last CUSW car I drove got schooled by each of its rivals on the competitive portion of the drive. Not so with the 200.

Back to back with the Camry, Accord and Fusion (there was no time left to drive the Altima), the 200 held its own in most areas. Keen drivers will still prefer the Accord, with its robust VTEC V6, sharp handling and powerful brakes. The 200′s Pentastar motor is similarly sweet, with a melodic growl and torque for days, but the steering suffers from an on-center dead zone and less feedback than the Accord, while exhibiting the soft brake pedal and poor modulation common to the Dart and Cherokee. Chrysler endlessly mentioned the 200′s Alfa-derived platform, but if this is what Alfa is producing these days, no wonder the brand is in the dumps. Against the Camry SE and Fusion, it fared better, though the weak brakes took some of the shine off the car’s otherwise solid dynamics. Any bugs in the 9-speed automatic  that were present on the Cherokee launch appear to be ironed out, and it felt far more advanced than any of the 6-speed units offered on the competitive cars.

Where the 200 truly edges out the Accord – and the rest of the present competition – is the fact that the interior is just a much nicer place to be – if you’re sitting up front. The 200′s modern, easy-to-operate infotainment system and high quality interior is a stark contrast to the Accord’s cabin, which frankly feels cheap and a bit nasty in the way that the 2012 Civic did. Acres of dull plastic and faux wood permeate the cabin, while Honda’s infotainment interface feels stone age next to the slick UConnect system. The story is the same with the Camry SE, which sports similar materials and a slightly toned down driving experience, but nothing nearly as bad as what most enthusiast writers would lead you to believe.

Where the Japanese sedans have the 200 squarely beat is in back seat comfort. Like the “game changer” Fusion, the 200 features a very contemporary roofline that slopes to create a pseudo-coupe profile, cutting rear seat headroom in the process. Combine that with a high rear seat cushion and you have a recipe for compromised headroom in the back, something that won’t sit well with traditional mid-size buyers. On the other hand, Ford moved nearly 300,000 Fusions last year, just behind the Altima, Accord and Camry.

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Rather than going after the Japanese sedans, with their staid styling (but more generous passenger compartments) and antiquated infotainment systems, Chrysler appears to be matching the Fusion shot for shot. Instead of the maligned MyFord Touch, UConnect is being offered up. In place of the Ecoboost engines, two naturally aspirated engines, a 2.4L Tigershark making 184 horsepower (shared with the Dart, and one we regrettably didn’t sample in the 200) and the 295 horsepower Pentastar V6. All-wheel drive is also an option, and the Fusion’s tech is now trumped by the 200′s – how about perpendicular park assist, along with the usual lane departure warning system, blind spot monitoring and active cruise control?

Remarkably, the 200 is not just a better Fusion, but a sedan that is fully competitive with class leaders. It’s not a perfect mid-size sedan, and it requires you to accept certain trade-offs in the name of style and advanced technology. But Detroit finally has a credible mid-size sedan that is competitive with the best of what the segment has to offer.

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141 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2015 Chrysler 200...”


  • avatar
    RideTheCliche

    Game Changer!

  • avatar
    Carfan94

    Looks nice. I agree the “Limited” model looks more natural (and appealing). I just don’t like that rotary shift knob.

    • 0 avatar
      joe_thousandaire

      You’d love the rotary shift knob if you had to deal with the regular ZF e-shifter. I wish my JGC had the rotary.

      • 0 avatar
        Carfan94

        I agree that one’s worse! I just watched a video on how to use it, it looks frustrating to use. I like the Mercedes shifter though.

        http://0.tqn.com/d/cars/1/0/j/5/2/ag_10e350s_shifter.JPG

        • 0 avatar
          Roberto Esponja

          I agree Carfan94. That little column shifter is one of the (few) things I really like about my wife’s ML wagon. The rest of the vehicle…acchhh!

      • 0 avatar
        bigdaddyp

        At Christmas I drove my brothers ’14 Grand Cherokee. I really liked it, thought it was just a fantastic ride, accept for that stupid shifter. My brother said it took him about a month* before he could hit reverse or drive with 100% accuracy.

        * Despite my comments to the contrary he is not a moron, he just has a very short commute and doesn’t rack up that many miles.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      At least it’s better than the gross CVT in the Altima. It offends me so many of those boring, ugly things sell.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    Can somebody explain to me the appeal of the electronic parking brake? Even Chevy ditched it when they gave the Malibu its emergency refresh for ’14.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I can’t because I think the electronic parking brake is a poor decision, and I hate that my soon to arrive Verano is so equipped (though in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t a deal breaker). Give me a parking brake lever any day.

    • 0 avatar
      Buckshot

      The electronic parking brake doesn´t have the problems that many ordinary parking brakes has(The mechanism gets jammed and the pads gets stuck)That´s what i heard.

      • 0 avatar
        Tomifobia

        The ’13 Malibu I rented last year had one. I couldn’t tell if it was ever engaged or not. I’d prefer a lever, as I live on a steep hill and like to set the brake before putting the car in park.

        • 0 avatar
          Avatar77

          You can’t read a light on the dash showing that the brake is on? Oh, and the electronic e-brakes on Chevys disengage automatically when you drive away.

          I don’t get the hate for electronic parking brakes in here – I thought this was TTAC, not the Fast and Furious Drift forum.

          • 0 avatar
            fredtal

            Sensorts can be fooled. I had to do the rear brakes twice on my Silverado because the cable brake didn’t fully disengage and wore out the rotors. Electric or manual doesnt really matter, it’s the quality of implementation that matters.

          • 0 avatar
            Tomifobia

            The light didn’t come on in that particular car when I put it in park. Either the brake didn’t activate, or the light was malfunctioning.

          • 0 avatar
            Blackcloud_9

            I like the e-brake in my Volt. It makes a clear sound when engaging/disengaging and the car absolutely will not move if it’s engaged. A friend of ours put a lot of premature wear on the rear brakes of our last car because she didn’t fully disengage the manual brake handle

          • 0 avatar
            sitting@home

            Considering most people never use them for parking, and they’re often not operated by hand, I’ll chime in for the 3rd name they’re often called by .. Emergency Brake.

            Can you say “Unintended Acceleration” … with a direct cable pulled brake you’d at least have some hope of stopping a runaway car, even if the real problem was your moccasins were pushing the floor mat down on the accelerator when you thought you were braking. My mother’s CC won’t engage the push button parking brake unless the car is at a complete standstill; “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that … This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.”

            My grandfather used to tell me of the time, long before I was born, when his brake lines burst on a downhill and he brought the car to a controlled stop using the handbrake and the curb.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            When I was 12, we (my parents myself and two brothers) were on a camping trip in our fully laden 92 LeSabre towing a pop up trailer, we experienced a sudden loss of brake pressure. It turned out a brake line failed. Pedal e-brake, downshift and some room and we came to a safe stop, but luckily the intersection we barreled through was clear.

          • 0 avatar
            kjb911

            Can you say “Unintended Acceleration” … with a direct cable pulled brake you’d at least have some hope of stopping a runaway car, even if the real problem was your moccasins were pushing the floor mat down on the accelerator when you thought you were braking. My mother’s CC won’t engage the push button parking brake unless the car is at a complete standstill; “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that … This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.”

            In a situation of unintended acceleration you would be better off with an electronic parking brake at least in Chevy’s case as pulling on the lever for three seconds causes a four wheel abs modulation followed by complete brake force distribution and lockup

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        That usually results from just not using the parking brake for years, then having to use it one day and the cables seize. I use the parking brake from day one every time I park, that way the cables & mechanism never have a chance to seize up.

        But I agree with above, I hate rotary shift knobs and especially electronic parking brakes…how are you supposed to do a Starsky & Hutch e-brake turn in a snowy parking lot in the middle of the night?!

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          As a manual driver, I engage the hand brake everytime I park the car. So, I have never had a parking brake mechanism seize or fail.

          My concern with the electronic button based one, version, is that my belief is that a hand actuated cable mechanism will be more durable in the long run than electronically activated solenoids, especially ones that are engaged and disengaged multiple times a day.

          And of course drifting in snowy parking lots.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            The electronic version may be more durable. The reason being that it’s just a valve: you need to have you foot on the brake pedal to activate the electronic brake. All it does it hold pressure in the calipers.

            Lots more to go wrong in a cable-operated parking brake: ratchet mechanism, cables, activators, return springs, etc. Most of those components are located in vulnerable and rust-prone locations.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I am hoping it is indeed reliable. It just seems to me to be a more complex system with more failure points, but I cannot verify that.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            The ebrake on the Cherokee and 200 uses a motorized ratcheting mechanism that effectively performs the same task as a manual e-brake. It does not hold hydraulic pressure. The reason for the ratcheting mechanism is so that the system will hold when power is cut, i.e. when you shut the car off.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I doubt that they are a valve as that defeats the redundancy feature and is prone to problems due to changes in temperature. Mico the manufacture of the original “line Lock” hydraulic style, supplemental, parking brake specifically notes the issue with temperature changes and states that it must be released and reapplied every hour or so. It also says it should not be used long term, like overnight parking since it does hold pressure in the brake system. They are also stress that it is supplemental to a mechanical brake and should never be used alone. Of course some of that is likely to satisfy their lawyers except that those warnings have been included with their products for more than 50 years, long before the sue happy society of today evolved.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      They’re usually idiot proof. Put the car in drive and most will automatically disengage.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      One thing I like about electronic parking brakes is that they free up console-space in cars that would otherwise have a hand-brake in that location. I was disappointed with the 2014 Malibu dropping this feature, because now the console looks ugly and cluttered.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Modern consoles have been making war on legroom for years, irrespective of hand-brakes. Auto makers aren’t interested in compact consoles, when there’s a need for more cupholders!

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      I don’t understand electronic parking brakes. I like the physical feel and the quickness pushing down my foot operated parking brake, instead of pushing a stupid button and waiting for it to “engage”. What if i’m in a hurry and push the button and then put the car in park before it engages?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I really like the e-brake in my ’12 Leaf SL. It totally removes the guesswork of a manual parking brake. (In the Leaf, it also happens to be the loudest part of the vehicle.) It also auto-releases when you drive away, in case you forget to manually do so.

      I think lower trim levels of Leaf have a manual parking brake now, I’d really miss this feature.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Any body else amused that the “Limited” is the volume model?

  • avatar
    motormouth

    I was told a couple of months ago, driving the new Nissan Qashqai (Rogue, etc), that the addition of an electronic parking brake served to remove what could become a physical obstacle (the lever) in the event of a side impact. While it’s difficult to argue with that ‘safety consideration’, I think freeing up space on the centre console also plays a part – without the trad handbrake lever it’s possible to squeeze in a holder able to accommodate a 64oz Slurpee instead of the thimble-sized 32oz cup.

    That said, there are drawbacks, such as overriding the system in the case of a dead battery, which can be done in the Qashqai by poking something the size of a paperclip wire through a hidden hole. Tricky.

    But it does spell the end of handbrake turns in the snow. Which is sad.

  • avatar

    I agree Limited is always looking good and different from other car.I did not see yet an electronic parking brake.But I think manual parking brake is good when drifting the car.Is it?

  • avatar

    Chrysler finally has a beautiful mid-sized sedan and a beautiful large sedan- and both have excellent engine choices.

    While I’m not sure what the smallest engine choice will be like on the new 200, i already know that the Pentastar with AWD is going to be a hit.

    Can’t wait to drive it. In fact, might even get my girlfriend or a sibling to buy one just so I can enjoy it on the regular.

    The one downside I see is that Hyundai is the only company building bright, vivacious and well cut interior designs in the low end segment. These dark plastics and grains are so drab and dull. Where are the tans and cashmeres? I still end up more visually attracted to a Hyundai interior.

    • 0 avatar
      Tomifobia

      The Dart offers a “light frost”(beige) paired with black interior color scheme on the SXT trim. It looks awful. The 200 will offer a black/linen interior, but Chrysler’s site doesn’t have a decent pic of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Tomifobia

        Just looked at Sonata in the same two-tone on another site. It looks terrible, too.

        • 0 avatar
          IHateCars

          I agree….light coloured interiors only look good with high quality materials. Otherwise, it’s the visual equivalent of a beige polyester leisure suit.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Tan and black go together like chocolate and spaghetti sauce or Bush and Obama. Tans should be accompanied with a nice brown and black goes better with gray or silver. Both are getting very long in the tooth as we have had no real interior colors others than the occasional red in a performance car for the past two decades.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          I could really go for more interiors like this brown/black/bronze:

          http://i1127.photobucket.com/albums/l634/phytheaux/CosyVehicleImage.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Totally disagree.

          Decades ago, my aesthetically talented wife was in the fashion business. I wanted to buy our chosen model in maroon, but she said it would be ugly and lobbied for black or pearl white outside, tan inside. She was 100% right. My brother had the same car in metallic blue/grey, and he died a little with envy every time he saw our car. I liked the look so much, I actively sought out a tan interior/black exterior combo in my current car.

          The wife is gone now, but I still love my car. And the vanilla-on-black interior in VW CC’s looks great, too.

    • 0 avatar
      calgarytek

      Inadequate front end stoppers can be rectified with a brake upgrade kit. Dead on center steering wheel feel can be rectified with software upgrade (assuming it’s electric steering we’re talking about).

      Long term quality and reliability is the big question…

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      I agree with you on the tans and cashmere’s. I like a tan interior with woodgrain.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    About 85% of midsized sedans are sold with the base 2.4L or 2.5L I-4. The fact that Derek “regrettably didn’t sample” the meat of the market makes me wonder whether FCA wasn’t trying to pull the wool over his eyes.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Most manufacturers want you to sample the nicest possible version of their car. Go looking for a review of a Fusion S with naturally aspirated 2.5 4cyl. Unless its a “rental review” you won’t find it. Lots of 4cyl Altima reviews out there but try to find one of the lowest level “S” trim. Again your going to have a hard time finding it.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        True enough, but if FCA could go to the trouble of making the 200′s competitors available, I think they could have found a way to have enough copies with the base engine available for all the writers to sample.

        Call me paranoid, but I’ve been burned too many times by Chrysler to think it coincidence.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          If you go to Edmunds they have a review of the 2.4 base engine. So FCA wasn`t hiding anything. Also I note some of the competitor cars were V6′s too.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            Curious… for all the obvious cover Edmunds staff provided to Fiatsler throughout their long-term Dart review (including doing all they could to obfuscate the cause for the ruined engine that ended the test) you’d think they could have scored a better tester than the 2.4L fleet special.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            The edmunds article says in the follow-up that the Dart engine had a faulty plug that caused a misfire, and the engine computer cut power/fuel to protect the catalyst. If you understand modern engine management systems (which clearly you don’t if you think the engine “failed”), this is exactly how they work – a misfire will cause the system to prevent the catalyst from being overheated and destroyed, and it will be as agressive as needed to accomplish that task, short of stalling the engine.

            How is a faulty plug and a misfire a ruined engine again?

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            I understand modern engine management just fine… just as I understand that ANY issue that causes a modern car to suddenly (and repeatedly) lose the ability to accelerate, endangering its driver and others around them, is completely and utterly unacceptable.

            If you’re so willing to buy Edmunds’ half-assed explanation of what happened to their Dart, explain, then, why the car was promptly removed from the fleet right afterwards? Or the fact that it took Edmunds staff close to two months to sort out any explanation for the problem that didn’t grate against Fiatsler’s legal team?

            Their Dart’s dead, wheelie.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Well break out the tinfoil hats and conspiracy theories folks. Apparently since the interwebz says it must be a failed engine then it must be true!

            Provide some proof or it didn’t happen and all you are doing is spreading lies. Conspiracy theories and conjecture are not proof.

            Did it ever occur to you that maybe it was removed from the fleet because Chrysler wanted it back to let their engineers have a look at it to figure out what happened to the spark plug and what made it crack? Oh no, that possibility would go counter to the tinfoil hat crowd.

            Edmunds is large enough that they could print the truth without fear of retribution or pettyness when it comes to future PR cars. Enough eyes look at their site and I’m sure Chrysler knows that cutting them off for printing the truth would completely backfire on them.

            As far as this silliness about “unacceptable” behavior with a misfiring plug…engines going into limp-in mode for a persistent misfire is an OBD requirment to protect the consumer and the vehicle from further damage. ANY modern car with a failed plug would behave in the same manner, so if you think it’s “dangerous”, then write CARB/DOT/EPA and tell them so.

            I’ll tell you what’s even more dangerous than a car going into a limp-in mode to protect itself: how about a camshaft failing at speed on an early 5.7L Tundra? Or how about a transmission grinding to a halt on a an early 2000′s 5-speed Honda Odyssey or Accord? Those sound even more unacceptable and dangerous than a car reacting in precisely the way it was designed and mandated to do when the computer detected a severe misfire.

            We can debate whether the spark plug should have failed, but the bottom line is that spark plugs are a relatively low-tech item on modern high-tech cars. They fail on occasion, and that can happen to any make or model.

            We get that you hate Chrysler with unbridled passion. Apparenly they must have molested you as a child or raped your sister or something. Just stop making up so-called “facts” about a road test vehicle that you have no proof about what really happened.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Update:

            If you read the various Edmunds long-term updates, they were only supposed to keep the car for 20,000 miles anyway. It just so happens that the misfire/bad spark plug issue happened around the same time they were supposed to return the car to Chrysler. OMG what a conspiracy!!!

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That’s true, but the 2.5-liter Fusion *is* mostly for rental and fleet applications, sort of a sub-base engine. The 1.6-liter turbo (for 2014, it’s 1.6 for the manual transmission and 1.5 for the automatic) is the bread-and-butter engine, while the 2.0-liter turbo is the V6-equivalent.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      This week while my Accord was at the body shop having a rocker-panel dent repaired, I was put into a 2013 Avenger from Enterprise. Base trim with the loud, wheezy 2.4 and four-speed slushbox.

      With apologies to any Avenger owners on this forum, the car is the worst vehicle I have ever driven! (Backed up by TTAC editors’ rental experiences, IIRC!)

      The transmission was at least smooth when the drivetrain has warmed up, and for a car with 35,700 miles on it, the interior wasn’t a rattily mess. But acres of hard plastic and thin cloth seats (though reasonably comfortable) were letdowns! And the steering: zero! Feel! (Well, except for the fact that this Dodge had to be missing a balance weight or three up-front. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually rented a car from one of the big companies (versus service or body-shop loaners/courtesy cars), and every time, the wheels have been out-of-balance!! This Avenger was damn near unsafe at speeds over 65mph or so, and I let them know about it when I returned it!)

      Bottom line, I hope that the new 200 is a quantum leap over the old Avenger/200 in overall execution, but especially in the smoothness of the 4-bangers and in steering feel!

  • avatar
    make_light

    I still think the old 200 was a bit unjustly criticized. Chrysler took the terrible Sebring and did everything they could to improve it. Look at the previous generation Accord: sure it was roomy, safe, and will probably last forever. But it was also ugly, noisy, and had rock hard seats with an unimpressive interior. And yet, it never garnered much criticism for its flaws. Sure, the new Accord fixes all those things, but it was released after the old 200. Hopefully this new 200 gets some well-deserved credit.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      I, too, wondered why the last generation Accord garnered a ‘pass’from buyers and critics. Maybe, it was something similar to why the 2012 Civic was panned by critics, but sold well anyway. It’s the theory of being lemmings-just follow blindly. I remember seeing the current generation Accord, and thinking silently, “oh good, the Accord styling and engineering staff is back from their four-year nap-thank goodness”.

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      I agree the 2008-2012 Accord was a big disappointment. It was ugly and noisy, and i think the interior was very cheap and bland. And a lot of owners complained of quality defects (premature brake wear, leather peeling and fading, hard seats, oil consumption).

      http://www.carcomplaints.com/Honda/Accord/2008/

      But still i wouldn’t “avoid it like the plague”.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This thing has a D-pillar already. Chrysler should rectify the rear headroom problem with a hatchback.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The same could be said of most modern “sedans”. Three box design is dead unfortunately. I was googling through “sedan comparison tests” and I remember one test that took the time to say which cars had the biggest trunk openings. That is helpful info in our modern world.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I think the 3 box dying is a good thing. It’s not really the most efficient body shape. A hatchback can have the “coupe” styling that’s all the rage while also retaining rear head room. I find it bizarre that companies are selling these huge mainstream sedans with such cramped rear seats.

        • 0 avatar
          Carfan94

          I agree. If you need need a car with decent rear headroom these days you have to look a Hatchback/CUV/SUV/Minivan.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          I suspect it’s aero that’s driving the shape and limiting space. Almost everyone has dropped the height of the back seat (ruining thigh support) and tilted the seat backs to get decent sized people under lowered roof lines. If the solution were adding some height or changing the exterior shape a little, they would have done that instead, so I suspect those options are non-starters.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I saw the 200S version at our local car show, I was impressed by what I saw. Unfortunately, the car was locked so there was no way to determine if the interior was as nice as the exterior I saw. However, considering Chrysler’s history post-bankruptcy, I’m guessing the interior would be as nice as at least the last 200.

    I was a big skeptic of Sergio & Co., when they took over ownership of Chrysler and am still a little critical. But they seem to be making big strides with every release. This new 200 seems to hit a lot, if not all, of the marks that most mid size buyers would target.

    I think the Limited version is a little bland, but my tastes go toward the sporting more than the pedestrian. It will be interesting to see one of these in rental spec, as I think those cars are the essence of the model distilled down to it’s core. The fancier ones may render better numbers, better everything, but the basic competency should show through on the lower spec versions.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      At my local auto show in early February they had a 200S in the blue, base engine. It was unlocked, the interior is very nice, both in terms of design and quality of materials.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Not that I’m in the market now,but I would have liked to have seen the interior. From what I could see, it looked nice.

        But the real star of the FCA display this year was the TrailHawk Cherokee. Mrs. Geozinger wants one more than I do…

  • avatar
    dwford

    As a 2013 Dodge Charger with Uconnect, I can attest to its mostly ease of use, but to hear reviewers jizz about it every time is a bit much. No one ever mentions that it takes 3-4 touches on the screen to adjust the heated seats, or that the system plays songs in alphabetical order, not album order, which is annoying.

    I like the look of the 200, except for the front end, which is weak kneed looking – especially compared to the Fusion. Also, while I like that the center console has controls up high, I don’t like those floating consoles – they take up space and I doubt anyone bends down to shove stuff in the basically hidden shelf underneath.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      dwford, there’s gotta be a setting in your radio that’s causing that. My Dodge has the UConnect 8.4N, and it plays the songs in album order. Probably some kind of adjustment needs to be made.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        I haven’t found the setting, but if anyone knows how to fix this I would be thrilled.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        It may have to do with song/file names. My music file names start with the track number (e.g., “01 Beautiful Day.mp3″), so that when alphabetized they stay in order. If your file names are missing that, or if the player sorts by song name instead of file name, then it would naturally change the order.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      You’ve never had a wife that keeps her bag on the armrest, have you? It sucks up every bit of interior room. In even the largest cars.

      That cubby isn’t designed to hold ‘stuff,’ it’s designed to hold a purse. No woman I’ve ever know has ever put her purse in the back floorboard. They always crowd you with it, instead.

      For that reason alone, I think this is genius.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      I store albums in a nested folder hierarchy, with filenames beginning with track number (including leading zeros), so I haven’t experienced this issue, settings or no.

      uConnect crawls through them just fine, and no weird randomized playlists.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      Agreed on the cubby! When I saw that big gap under the console, my first thought was “I want that space BACK!”

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Any Fiat-based/derived Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge vehicle = Fix It Again Tony Especialle

    No gratzi.

    • 0 avatar
      SayMyName

      +1. Anyone spending their money on a Fiat-derived Fiatsler product is either shockingly ignorant to decades of established automotive history, or has opted to willfully blind themselves to it.

      BTW, I notice that ‘billfrombuckhead’ hasn’t graced us with his blathering on a Fiatsler post in awhile. Perhaps he finally turned 16 and actually drove one.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        22,000 miles on my 1.4L Dart so far and no significant problems to report other than a squeaky door trim panel (replaced under warranty) and an ill-fitting fuel filler door. Oh, almost forgot the wiper blade that broke – what an unreliable piece of crap! (sarcasm for those who don’t get it)

        And no need for the douchey “ignorant” crack about how people choose to spend their money. It’s just as ignorant to buy another Honda or Toyota because your 10 year old Civic treated you well – the new car bears little resemblance to the one it’s replacing unless you are on a 2 year lease cycle.

        • 0 avatar
          SayMyName

          So, you fall into the “willfully blind” category, then?

          Seriously, good for you that your Dart is treating you well so far. They’re certainly attractive cars, but there’s also a robust supply of evidence out there already that demonstrates they’re rather fragile, and weren’t quite fully baked on release.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            I see just fine thanks. Since my car has been relatively trouble free other than a few squeaks and an ill-fitting fuel door, I’d say it’s fully baked. If it were that fragile, the horrible Michigan roads I drive on every day would have chewed it up and spit it out by now.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey DW, you should really use Google Translator when trying out your Italian! ;) Just pulling our leg.

      I think young Derek is a pretty upfront guy who calls it like it is and has a good feel for the cars he’s reviewing. I think though the jury is still out for the new Chrysler products. I at least hope some people try it out. It’s the only way for the company to continue to exist and develop more and keep competition going. As these cars are all new and FCA knows their future depends on them, I’m pretty sure they sweated everything out. I think it’s too early to make a blanket condemnation.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I like The One You Out To Avoid better.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      What part do you think won’t hold up? The Pentastar which is doing OK in millions of cars, trucks and vans already on the road? The ZF 9 speed which Honda will offer soon? Something else?

      People act like this are made out of rusted Fiat 131s (which weren’t any worse than rusted Citations and Escorts). I’m more worried about the Chrysler end of the bargain than the Fiat end. If anything, the 500 is one of the most reliable new platforms. Techs tell me that hardly anything ever goes wrong with them.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        22,000 miles on my 1.4L Dart so far and no significant problems to report other than a squeaky door trim panel (replaced under warranty) and an ill-fitting fuel filler door. Oh, almost forgot the wiper blade that broke – what an unreliable piece of crap! (sarcasm for those who don’t get it)

        And no need for the douchey “ignorant” crack about how people choose to spend their money. It’s just as ignorant to buy another Honda or Toyota because your 10 year old Civic treated you well – the new car bears little resemblance to the one it’s replacing unless you are on a 2 year lease cycle.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        My Pentastar Jeep Wrangler is doing just fine…. no problems here. I’m usually what you’d call a “Ford guy” but who makes a compact 4WD that shines off the pavement but is tractable enough for daily use, that isn’t the size of the Hindenburg and has a removable hardtop? Not really anybody save for Jeep…. the FJ Cruiser is the closest, but no roof option and poor visibility struck it off….

        My family had a very poor experience with a pre BK Chrysler, a ’99 Concorde. Total piece of junk, easily their worst car they’ve owned. Driver window would repeatedly fall off the track, the trim on the hood in front of the cowl repeatedly faded and bubbled…. oh and the transmission was the worst part. Failed more then 3 times, at least. AC failed a time or 2, not ideal in Southern California’s Inland Empire where summer can get 105+ degrees. Not good at all.

        That being said; different company, different era. Comparing the sorry Concorde to my JK Wrangler is apples and oranges. You can chide me on my “4X4 Fiat”, but I’m happy with it and that’s all that counts.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Your Wrangler is not a Fiat-based vehicle, of the type that I was referring to.

          Heavy Handle – you make a fair point about the Pentastar motor and transmission. I have no particular reason to suspect the 9 speed (or 8 speed) ChryCo or ZF transmissions will be worse than competitor units, and as you said, much of these components are sourced and shared amongst different automakers anyways.

          As for the Pentastar, I’m actually a fan of the motor, and have found it smooth, powerful and reasonably efficient (especially mated to the 8 speed transmission) in any vehicle I’ve driven equipped with it.

          I was speaking more towards the other major components that Fiat produces when making my comment.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            The 1.4L Fiat engine is based on a cylinder block that dates back to the 1980′s. The only thing really “new” about it is the multiair system, but it was in use for a few years before it was brought to our market.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Is there any credible, large scale data that indicates the reliability of that motor based on usage in Europe?

            I ask because I don’t know, not in a rhetorical way.

            My expression of doubt of Fiat reliability stems not only from the admittedly popular utterances about the brand (the Fix It Again Tony type wisecracks), and also the reason that it seems many cars that I deem unreliable (such as many VW models) are held in such high regard in Europe.

            In other words, I was stating something much closer to FIAT needs tom prove itself in terms of reliability before I’d personally trust the brand, rather than I know for a fact that it is consistently unreliable across the board.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            I don’t have any data, but my only point was that it’s a design they have been building for a while now. One would think/hope that they would have worked out the bugs after all that time vs. an all new design.

            The bottom end of the engine is pretty robust – it uses a two piece block with a bedplate, a forged crank and piston cooling jets. For a small 4-cylinder, it seems somewhat overbuilt.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    When I sat in one at the Toronto auto show last month I was faintly impressed. (DAMN IT)

    I really did think the interior was close to if not best in class in materials and style, as well as harbouring an ingenious center console. The muted Dart-like rear 3/4 and non-descript lower front fascia I could do without, but overall this is galaxies away from the current Sebring-to-200 rolling chemical toilet offered by Chrysler.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    At our auto show last month, Chrysler had a new 200 on an elevated turntable, and was off-limits to a close-up view, but it sure was pretty. We really like how Chrysler’s interiors have improved over the last few years, and that’s a good sign.

    Still, why are Chrysler vehicles always near the bottom of CR’s list? What exactly is wrong with them?

    • 0 avatar
      SayMyName

      Fiatsler seems to be increasingly banking on the VAG model to sell cars.

      Pretty details and decent materials impress on the showroom floor, but don’t matter quite as much by the third time you have to see your Dart, Cherokee, et al towed into the service department.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        22K and no towing or major components failed. Keep making stuff up. CR is being cautious/conservative from the past, which is their right. The spread between the best and the worst cars in various quality rankings is shrinking all the time. Many other people have said it, but I’ll say it again: there really are no truly bad cars today.

        • 0 avatar
          SayMyName

          I’ll counter your positive experiences (though even your Dart’s “minor” faults are rather inexcusable on any new vehicle, IMHO. Even Kia has figured out how to attach a fuel door by now) with my neighbor who abandoned his 1.4L/6A Limited model at the dealer, after his engine grenaded with less than 10,000 miles on the odometer.

          He would the first to tell you that really was a truly bad car. (And then there’s the fiasco over at Edmunds with their Dart, which also appears to have blown its engine…)

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Again with this meme about the edmunds car. Did you read the final entry? Bad spark plug and a misfire is what made it lose power. Totally reasonable if you understand modern engine management systems.

            The engine did not fail per their own account. Please stop making up “facts” about the edmunds car to push your agenda of Chrysler hatred.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            “Per their own account.” Suffice to say that I, as well as many others (read the comments, wheelie) simply don’t buy Edmunds’ highly-suspect summary of their Dart’s numerous problems. Severe and repeated loss of acceleration isn’t a “minor maintenance issue,” no matter how desperately Edmunds tries to dismiss it as such, and it’s hard to ignore the car was immediately and without any fanfare removed from the fleet afterwards.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Proof or did not happen as you say it did. Conspiracy theories do not count. Comments from a bunch of tinfoil-hatters that want to piss on anything and everything like “nukedetroit2″ are really credible…not.

            I would hardly call a spark plug failure a major issue. They fail on occasion and that can happen to any car.

            The engine software performed exactly as designed and mandated by OBD requirements when a severe misfire occurs – it limits power to protect the engine and catalyst. Would you prefer it stall and leave someone stranded? The car did make it to it’s destination after all – pretty impressive given the circumstances. They could have pulled over and called roadside assistance like normal people do when the engine loses power and the check engine light comes on, but the author chose to push it. It’s a miracle he didn’t do more damage to the car – driving 200 miles with a severe misfire from a cracked center electrode (most likely based on the author’s description and symptoms) insulator is not a bright idea, unless of course the car isn’t yours and you don’t care.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Update:

            The car was removed from the fleet because it was only a 20,000 mile long term test per Edmunds own statements. The car has 20K on it when the faulty spark plug occured, but it was fixed and returned to Chrysler. Oh wait – where’s the conspiracy now? Same place as your credibility….i.e. nowhere.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            You just keep on telling yourself whatever you need to, wheelie, that makes you feel not so much a fool when writing out that monthly check. Just be sure to check back in when your engine blows up.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Forget it buddy. Your credibility is blown. Oooohh…the car was turned in…must be a conspiracy to hide something that didn’t actually happen!!! Nope, the test was over anyway….wah wah. So much for your silly conspiracy theories.

            I get the feeling you must be “nukedetroit” from all those stupid comments on the edmunds pages since you are spewing similar unfounded and irrational hatred here.

            My engine will be just fine, but thanks for your “concern”…meanwhile I’ll just keep enjoying my car.

            I’m sorry that you live in a world where people that choose things that you don’t like/don’t approve of (even if it has no impact on you whatsoever) makes them somehow less than you in your tiny little mind. Imagine all the things and experiences you must be missing out on because of your preconcieved notions and biases.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Well for starters Chrysler doesn’t have anyone from there organization on there panel. That counts for a lot and explains a certain manufactures suspiciously high ratings no matter what everyone else says.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I’ll be the lone wolf here and say that after seeing it at the Houston show I wasn’t impressed. We were kept far away and there was no attempt at making it look special. Yes it’s better than the current 200 but that isn’t saying much. Of course I’m shopping wagons and manual transmissions so what do I know.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      My buddy and I were similarly left unimpressed overall, especially with exterior styling which looks too Korean/Fusion and an interior that felt cramped.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Really? I was there, and I got the impression they were really trying to show it off–put up on a pedestal distinct from the other cars & even had an announcer to drum up attention to it.

      I was actually impressed with it, but that’s probably due to my low expectations. Of course, I didn’t get to drive it, though.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    “…rather elegant with its muted silver paint and smaller wheels.” Glad to see someone else agrees wheels straight out of the factory can get too large to look right.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    Interested to see how the AWD version compares to the other midsize ~$30k or less options (Fusion, Regal, ’15 Legacy).

    Too bad about their option packaging. Want HIDs *and* a sunroof? You’re looking at $4600 worth of required option packages. At least the Comfort Group (heated seats, auto climate, and a few other niceties) can be had by itself for $800.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I’m sure that once the initial hype goes down, you’ll be able to get these for far below MSRP. That’s true even of Chrysler Group’s darling, the Grand Cherokee.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Nice review. I love the pentastar/ZF9 combo, but the lack of rear headroom makes it useless to me. If only they’d come out with a wagon…

  • avatar
    philadlj

    No MALIBU on hand? Well, I’m…!

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    If the 2014.5 Camry SE rental I was stuck with was anything to go by Chrysler should have no trouble moving these new 200′s. About the only good thing we could say about the Camry was rear seat legroom and reasonable highway comfort. The rest like the horrible numb steering, the sand paper like harsh all black seats, the land o plastic interior with misaligned bits everywhere, total lack of features for the over the 25k price tag, dismal highway passing power, the dated and glitchy infotainment/bluetooth that liked to disconnect my cell phone calls at random and the dull forgettable styling were all reminders on how poorly this car was supposedly updated.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    I recently sat in both a 200C and 200S at a local auto show. Not only was the interior nicer than mainstream vehicles in the 200′s direct competitive set, I also thought it was nicer than the interior in the Mercedes CLA.

    That said, I still doubt that these will set the sales charts on fire. As I’ve said here before, Chrysler has no mind share in this segment as they haven’t had a competitive mid sized offering in about 20 years – so they should define success as selling about the same volume as the outgoing model, but at a higher average transaction price and with a lower percentage going to the rental fleets.

    The new 200 seems like a nice, class competitive car with some above average features available (Pentastar / ZF9 / AWD / Interior). If they turn out to be at least average in reliability (the jury is still out, but it sounds like the later 200s were pretty decent in this regard), they will slowly build their reputation and have something to carry them next time gas prices rise. Until then, they will do just fine selling pickups and Jeeps…

  • avatar
    Dan

    The V6 was just an $800 option for 2014 and you could grab it with just $1200 in other options over the price leader LX. It’s now $2000 in and of itself and requires $2800 in other options. That’ll keep the take rate down.

    This game of good motor keepaway is only catching up with what every other manufacturer has already done, Chrysler was already doing it with most of their other models, but the lack of choice is still disappointing.

    CAFE, protecting you from the car you actually want since 1975.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      When I go onto their configurator a 200S 2.4L is $25.4K and if you select under the powertrain options the V6 it goes up $1950. No other options needed. AWD adds $2000.
      So the cheapest way into a V6 is $27440 (with destination) as a S model.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Or maybe it’s that buyers who can afford the extra fuel for the V6 also tend to want other options and can also afford the small difference in monthly payment between a stripper model and a mid-trim one. Every volume maker is trying to reduce build combinations these days, and a big-engine/no-options combo is one that’s not likely to sell well.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Performance figures for the 3.6L/9 speed combo are looking to be pretty darned good. My former 2013 Charger R/T should be scared.

    • 0 avatar
      pb35

      danio, you had a Charger and got rid of it? How come? I love my 2012 but am thinking of trading it sometime in the future.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Loved it, it was a great car. The lease was up. I’m strongly considering a 2015 model when the Hemi can be had with the 8 speed transmission.

        • 0 avatar
          pb35

          Ha, I’m considering a 2015 R/T as well. I like mine but I’d like to order one just the way I want it (and I want the 8-spd too). We’ll see how the refresh looks and what colors they’re offering.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    This is a Regal competitor, not a Fusion competitor. Especially with a real engine with more than 2.0 liters, and a two tone heated wheel.

    The center stack just looks better than the Fusion and its silver plastic.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Too much fixed roof.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I will be test-driving one of these, but only the V6. Having test-driven a 2.0 Tigershark Dart, I can’t believe the 2.4 version of that engine will be much better in a heavier car like the 200.

    As for the brakes – that’s a disappointment. Even my Leaf has dual-piston calipers up front.

  • avatar

    I dont understand how the writer can say the car has a nice interior. The fake chrome accent surrounding the center stack. All the rounded corners. Makes me think of a 90s design study. No imagination. Looked dated the day the car came out. Compare this with with the 2014 Mazda3 interior for example.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    It’s the Alfa Romeo Guilia that wasn’t

  • avatar
    jrasero23

    The funny thing is this car got some good response and people noted how Chrysler offered trims ranging from your basic mid size sedan to fringe luxury but now Chrysler has announced they will not proceed with calling Chrysler luxury. For me this is kind of a bummer since most media outlets were calling the 300 luxury for sometime and what does that leave the Chrysler group with for an upscale car? Just as Chrysler starts to shed the crappy days of the Sebring, they decide to go into a new direction

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      If Chrysler(as a brand) is now going head to head with Ford, as the marque they want to be compared with(as compared with Dodge versus Ford), just where in the pecking order IS Dodge? Two years ago, Ralph Gilles, head of design, implied that the Chrysler 300 was the corporation flagship. I don’t mind weeding out badge engineered models or duplicates, but I for one need some clarification about the pecking order longterm for SRT, Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep brands.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Try not to think about it from the standpoint of an internal hierarchical progression. If you look at the entire FCA empire, your head will only hurt more. Instead, think about the competitor’s cars that they are intended to conquest (instead of each other). The days of Sloan Rules are behind us.


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