By on April 26, 2016

2016 Chrysler 200 Exterior, Image: FCA

A few months ago, my esteemed colleague Ronnie Schreiber found himself in possession of a McLaren 675LT for the week. Not having a tremendous amount of personal experience with supercars, and not in a position to kill $10,000 worth of consumables in a single day at Thunderhill, Ronnie decided not to write a conventional review of the 675LT. Instead, he wrote an “Appreciation” of the Macca, eschewing the world-weary, seen-it-all shtick of the print-rag supercar review for an honest description of what it’s like to be a regular fellow who just happens to be holding the keys to something truly outrageous. Check it out, if you haven’t already read it.

Last week, I had the occasion to put 515 miles on a rented close-to-base-model Chrysler 200 in about a ten-hour period. It’s safe to say that most of you don’t like Chrysler’s entry-luxury take on the Fiat Compact platform. As a matter of fact, the 200 is currently a strong contender for Mr. Stevenson’s reanimated TWAT awards.

I’d like to see if I can change your mind about that.


2016 Chrysler 200 Side, Image: FCA

Let me start by apologizing for the lack of pictures. My plan was to pick the Chrysler up on Thursday afternoon, drive it to Ann Arbor for dinner, return to Columbus that night, drive to work the next day, then make the trip to Watkins Glen for what would turn out to be a star-crossed AER race. At the last minute on Friday, however, fate intervened in the form of a friend’s press loaner that was available for the weekend, so I immediately returned the 200 to Enterprise so I could save $80 in rental fees. I only remembered that I’d forgotten to photograph it when I was about halfway through Pennsylvania on the way to the Glen.

The Chrysler 200 Limited retails for $24,985. Nobody’s going to pay that much for one. That’s good, because the equipment list leaves quite a bit to be desired. You don’t get dual-zone temperature control; that’s an extra $645. You don’t get heated mirrors or an eight-way power seat; that’s $895 extra. In other words, if you equip it like an Accord EX, you’re going to have the same sticker as an Accord EX. Just remember that with modern-day Chryslers, the “Suggested” in the acronym MSRP is to be taken very lightly.

2015 Chrysler 200 Limited Interior, Image: FCA

This car has nothing to do with the old Sebring-based 200, except that it has a “Tigershark” variant of the 2.4 “World Engine.” It’s now hooked up to the ZF nine-speed automatic instead of a Mopar four-speed chugger. Both the engine and transmission have come in for quite a bit of criticism lately, some of it well deserved. Around town, the ZF is rarely in the right gear or even the gear that is next to the right gear. A few times when I was driving around Ann Arbor, I put my foot down to make a quick move in traffic only to have precisely nothing happen until the gearbox could get around to swapping into the correct ratio. This never took less than one second.

That being said, if you drive the 200 like you are in a hurry, it will pay attention and keep you in a low gear. In that situation, the Tigershark is equal to the task and you can move with authority. If you are on the freeway, the ZF will select ninth on level ground up to about 80 mph, allowing you to record a 34 mpg freeway rolling average as a result. My mixed-use economy readings over 500 miles were in the 30.5 mpg range. Not bad. I should point out as well that the ZF 9HP transmission, for all its foibles, is not a CVT and it doesn’t do the rubber-band thing. For some people, that’s critically important.

Since this is an “Appreciation,” I want to spend the rest of the article talking about what the Chrysler 200 does well. If you want to know what’s bad about it, you can ask any Internet forum, or read the comments which will appear below. Without further ado, then: The 200 is very quiet, both aerodynamically and mechanically. I can’t stress that enough, because it’s important. Anecdotally, I’d say it’s the quietest car in the class by a long shot. Long trips in the Chrysler are stress-free thanks to that quietness. Shame that the stereo isn’t good enough to take advantage of it, but you can get a better stereo in the higher trim levels if you like. Ride quality shines, both in the “primary” big-bump sense and the “secondary” road-imperfections sense. If you were a blind person sitting in the back of this car for a long trip, you’d think it was at least a Lexus ES350.

All the control efforts are reassuring and well-matched. This car is kinda based on the Dodge Dart, which is kinda based on a much smaller Euro-market Alfa Romeo, but none of that is readily apparent. There’s no shake or rumble in the steering wheel. The brakes are firm. Secondary controls operate with solid clicks. The window wiper control works in a way I’ve long suggested: you rotate upwards for faster intervals and then finally for LO and HI, so that the further you twist the knob the more wiping you get. Most manufacturers like to separate the functions of wiper interval adjustment and wiper rate, with the result that you wind up fussing with two knobs when it’s raining lightly. The Chrysler 200 doesn’t have that problem. It’s the sort of thing you’d stop noticing after a week in the car, but every time you drove something else you’d wonder why it required two different adjustments for what should be a single-motion selection.

The rotary transmission shifter in my rental example was wobbly, but I’ve rented two other 200s and they didn’t suffer from that problem, so it might be a case of some moron yanking on the thing repeatedly. The seats, although they’re not upholstered in anything expensive-looking, are supportive and firm, much like the seats you used to get in a Peugeot or Saab. All the controls fall readily to hand, as they say, with the sole exception of the penalty-box miniature uConnect screen. The dashboard is laid out logically and legibly, although the ridiculous “TACHOMETER” and “SPEEDOMETER” labels stamped into the faux-chrome dial surrounds are embarrassingly tacky. The LCD between those dials conveys useful information and is easy to configure.

This is a very easy car to get used to. It makes no demands on the driver. In that respect, it’s the perfect rental car. But it would also be a good car for people who don’t require all sorts of obvious character defects to enjoy an automobile. If you wanted to take four people on a road trip, this would be one of the top choices in the class. If you wanted all your passengers to be able to converse normally on the freeway without having to raise their voices or lean in towards their companions, it might be the best choice.

Trunk space is good. The headlights are bright. Cops don’t notice the car on the road. I popped the hood and confirmed that there’s a lot of space around the engine for easy DIY work; that might be important to whoever owns it in 15 years. The paint was laid on thick and with very little orange peel. Most of the exterior details were nicely done.

If you want to spend a little more on a Chrysler 200, you can get some very nice things. The Pentastar V6 is a $1,995 option that turns this unassuming car into a bit of a dragster. The 200C Premium has real wood and metal on the inside. There’s a dual-pane sunroof to be had, and a lane-keep system that will let you roll down the freeway totally hands-off. Top trim levels have a 506-watt Alpine sound system. Basically, you can build this car into an Acura TLX V6 competitor for a price slightly below that of a comparably-equipped Acura TLX four-cylinder.

I wouldn’t second-guess anyone’s decision to buy a Chrysler 200. I wouldn’t buy one personally, because there’s no stick-shift available. But that brings me to the last thing I want to mention about this car. Most mid-size cars have big, thick consoles with nothing inside them. The purpose of the console is to create some sort of impression that you’re in the kind of sporting vehicle that has a transmission and a physical shifter in there. That’s hogwash, of course; at the most you have a few cables, like in my stick-shift Accord, but normally it’s just wires to a transmission selector and a bunch of wasted space surrounding it.

The 200 has a rotary transmission selector that requires no mechanical linkage. So the space beneath it is open and free for storage of everything from cellphones to drinks to laptops. The center console between driver and passenger looks perfectly normal, with the usual pair of elbow-level cupholders, but a press of a button opens up enough space below those cupholders to hide your tablets or purse or a couple of Skorpion machine pistols. It’s thoughtful, it’s honest, and it’s effective without being flashy. The car that surrounds the console is all of those things as well. It might not be the best car for you, but it’s not the worst car out there. Not by a long shot.

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178 Comments on “2016 Chrysler 200 Limited Rental Review – An Appreciation Of An Extraordinary Automobile...”


  • avatar
    balreadysaid

    The switch was wobbly because somebody slugged the piss out of it when it didn’t work lol.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a week in one, and agree with the good points. Not a horrible car, by a long shot…

      You probably don’t have long legs, or you’d have noticed the seat bottoms are too short and the moved force causes back pain on long trips. I actually swapped it for a Sentra based on the seats. The 200 was other than the seats a way better car than the Sentra.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So if you wanted to go from point A to point B in quiet with little drama, this would be the car? Who’d a thunk it?

    And don’t forget that Sergio is stackin’ ’em deep and selling ’em cheap right now.

  • avatar
    relton

    Every 200 I drove, and I drove a lot of them when I worked at FCA, has a miserable combination of ride and handling. They had a lot of impact harshness, with not enough body motion control. In short, they were harsh and soft in the wrong places. Perhaps the rental versions have smaller wheels and taller tires.

    Every 4 cylinder 200, and Dart, had engines so noisy I could hear them idling 30 feet away. They sounded like diesels. Maybe the Tigershark is quieter. Maybe other people are deaf.

    I rode in the back seat of a 200 for an hour, and it was miserable, due to lack of headroom.

    Worst of all, the cityscape of Detroit engraved on the rubber mat inside the console, had removed the GM buildings, the largest skyscrapers in Detroit!

    The front seats, the part I was involved with, were pretty comfortable.

    I drove a lot of cars back to back with the 200 for extended periods. Most of them seemed better in many ways than the 200. The Fusion outshone the 200 in ride and handling by a mile, the Malibu was much quieter.

    Your experiences may vary.

    Bob

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “Worst of all, the cityscape of Detroit engraved on the rubber mat inside the console, had removed the GM buildings, the largest skyscrapers in Detroit!”

      That’s hilarious.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Everything relton said. To the letter. (Although with the caveat that I’ve only ever driven relatively basic four-cylinder models.)

      The suspension alone would be disqualifying for me.

    • 0 avatar
      cls12vg30

      “Every 4 cylinder 200, and Dart, had engines so noisy I could hear them idling 30 feet away. They sounded like diesels. Maybe the Tigershark is quieter. Maybe other people are deaf.”

      All MultiAirs sound like that at idle. It’s a technically amazing valvetrain, but it isn’t a quiet one.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Damn, Bob, my experiences do vary. Have had two of these as multi-day rentals to date. Both were fine, with a well-composed and quiet ride, and good handling. The shifting was not that bad either; although not class-leading, it was a heap better than the last-gen Malibu, for instance. (Faint praise, but real.)

      PS: I would kill for a pair of those mats for my kid’s Pontiac!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I have been waiting for your review on this for years. Thank you.

    The more I hear about this car from non-AutoExtremist wannabes, the more it seems clear to me that this is a car that didn’t deserve to fail. If my family were held hostage and the price of their freedom was for me to buy a new midsize sedan with an automatic transmission I would roll the dice on a 200 with the V6. It’s the quietest, best looking and one of the fastest cars in the segment. Does anything else matter here?

    It is amazing how the power of a brand can carry or bury a car. OK, the ZF9 should have been an 8 without the weird clutches and crap programming. The 2.4L needs to come into the 21st century. Other than that though, what cars in the segment are so much better than this, especially at the real world ATPs it’s moving at? If this were a Hyundai or Kia it would have been a smash hit. It bums me out that this thing is still born… it’s one of Chrysler’s best cars ever.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I think the 200’s issues are thus:

      1) it’s a perfectly competent car. But in a segment where you’re slugging it out with the Accord, Camry, Fusion, Malibu, 6, Regal, Sonata, Optima, etc., “good” isn’t enough to get you noticed.

      2) its reputation was crippled from the start since your average barely-worthwhile automotive journalist *always* had to make at least one mention of the awful Sebring, and

      3) because of 2) it became “conventional wisdom” on the internet that it’s still a bad car. “everyone knows” it’s no good simply because “everyone knows” it. Despite the fact that the “everyone” who supposedly “knows” it is just parroting what other people have said, and probably haven’t themselves even sat inside a 200.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I completely agree. I tried one out a while back, an S model with the Pentastar engine, and it was a solid driver. Is it as perfectly manufactured as an Accord? No. Does it handle like a Mazda6? No. Will it run 200,000 miles like a Camry? Maybe not. But it’s certainly a competitive car in its class. And it doesn’t deserve the hate everyone dumps on it.

      I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again (I’m annoying that way) – the biggest problem with this car is that FCA decided to apparently pump a huge percentage of its’ first year production into rental fleets. So, like Jack says, this is an ultimate rental car, which does nothing but a) weaken the brand, and b) kill resale. You can pick one of these up around here with 25,000 miles or so for about $15,000. Now, how do Chrysler dealers sell new ones for $25,000 when there’s a lightly used one for $10,000 less a few feet away?

      Dumb, dumb, dumb…

      Chrysler’s marketing plan for this car doomed it in the marketplace. They should have settled for less first year sales and let the nameplate build some equity in the market.

      For their sake I sure hope they don’t make the same mistake with the Pacifica van.

      • 0 avatar
        Gardiner Westbound

        The driveability and fuel economy benefits of Chrysler’s 9-speed automatic transmission scare me to death. Post warranty it is almost certain to be much less reliable and cost a fortune to repair, in all likelihood resulting in early vehicle scrappage. The owner’s bargain used car buy, only a financial illiterate would buy a new one, will blow up in his face.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        “I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again (I’m annoying that way) – the biggest problem with this car is that FCA decided to apparently pump a huge percentage of its’ first year production into rental fleets”

        It looks like GM is doing the same thing with the Malibu…despite the fact that they’re keeping the old one around for fleet use. It doesn’t even make sense.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Does anything else matter here?”

      Build quality after 24 months, reliability, resale, rear head room, dealer service, the likelihood of the company still existing 5 years from now.

      I don’t think the 200 is a *bad* car, but it isn’t good or unique enough to overcome the rest of the FCA baggage. You are correct, if this was a Kia it would do much better in the marketplace.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I don’t know, I’m looking at my new Consumer Reports and all I see is those red dots with the white circle for the ’15 200s.

        It’s early, yes, but even the old model wasn’t bad reliability-wise – probably not as bulletproof as an Accord or Camry, but a long way from being a shop queen.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Well, I’m obviously quite personally biased against FCA. I have supreme confidence those will all be white circles next year and black dots two years from now.

          But we’ll see.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            It’s also worth noting that the 200 resides on CR’s 10 worst new cars list with the 9 speed/4 cylinder combo as there top gripe and FCA’s notorious build quality as another complaint.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            They’ve got to do something (apparently) for the 2.4 in sedan use to make it smoother/pleasant. Because in the ProMaster City it was really REALLY rough and tractor-like.

          • 0 avatar

            The 2.4 needs to go. I’m a mopar guy and I wouldn’t pay much for one. (I would buy a cheap used one but it would have to be very cheap. I have considered a 200 v6 as my next commuter car.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Well, the way Dodge sells Grand Caravans and Chargers, Jeep sells … everything, and Ram sells all those trucks, plus the way Fiat sells in Europe?

        I wouldn’t expect them to be gone from the US in five years.

        So don’t worry about that one.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        If this was a Kia, it would be a better car.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I completely agree that this car isn’t total crap. I sent an older family friend to drive one (shopping v6 fwd sedans). She really preferred it to the camry 6, but it fell slightly behind the passat and accord in final consideration. It was details that did it though, the accord was preferred on reputation, dealer location and styling grounds, the passat on drivetrain quality (dsg + v6). She bought the Honda and regrets the cvt pretty vocally now that she’s grown more familiar with the car.

      Chrysler made a lot of good decisions here, but, like gm with the Malibu, it will take a second generation of not sucking for that to pay off. Fca either has serous cash flow issues or a massive need for instantaneous gratification, or both.

    • 0 avatar

      @SportyAccord

      Despite his assertions, PDL has never spent any time involved in product development. He is a marketing and advertising guy, and has never had to “sell” anything related to packaging, pricing etc to an executive team, or been involved in the new vehicle development process or had to deliver a new vehicle to market within the parameters demanded by internal and external stakeholders. His comments on these matters is not to be taken with any real weight. He views everything from a product-centric lens and demands that the world conform to this. The realities of new vehicle development demand that other, less sexy inputs (finance, compliance with regulations, making sure consumers will actually buy it, negotiation byzantine internal political considerations). I would treat his remarks as if they were one step above the typical TCL/Jalop/BrownManualWagonDiesel guy. His most recent Tesla piece is outstanding. Far better for you to get a copy of Clark and Fujimoto’s “Product Development Performance: Strategy, Organization, and Management in the World Auto Industry” from Amazon. While dated, it does give a more realistic input into the product development process.

      I have driven this car twice now. Once on the media launch, and once when Jack and I both found ourselves in Miami. I had a press car and he arranged for a rental. This car is definitely flawed, but your estimation is correct: it did not deserve to fail. It was a good effort, and I appreciate the constraints that FCA had to work with, but that only gets you so far in this market.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        I’ve had these as rentals before. The 200C has a seriously great interior. The leather is top notch and the dash looks very modern and sleek. The quality of the leather gives anything German a run for its money.

        The regular 200 on the other hand is just about the average rental car.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      “… it seems clear to me that this is a car that didn’t deserve to fail.”

      That is my contention exactly. Are there better cars? Yes. Does that make this car the idiot’s choice? No, especially considering the deal one is likely to get on one. Ford and Honda are selling better cars at higher prices, and good for them, but this is a nice car for the money. I have no intention of buying a new car anytime soon, but Id seriously give this car (in S V-6 form) consideration and some seat time before writing it off.

      This is coming from someone who has had awful luck with Chrysler cars. I had a 90s Concorde and Cirrus, both werent that old or with high mileage, but they were nothing but problems. Everytime I turned around, there was some major conponent failure. The Concorde was the worst, it was a one-owner (a female middle aged doctor), dealer maintained its entire life, and still managed to be unreliable and costly to keep going. I dumped a grand into the engine alone (3.5L), and a month later, both the engine and trans went out the same day: trans went into Limp Home Mode with “incorrect gear ratio gear 3/incorrect gear ratio gear 4”, so I eased it home at slow speeds/RPMs, and when I turned into the driveway, the oil lamp came on and the engine stopped cold a second later, never to run again. I GAVE it away to a scrap hauler, I might as well have put thousands of dollars into a pit and lit it on fire.

      Even with such a burn, I think Id be willing to give a 200C V-6 Premium a chance- especially if it was for the price (or less) of a base Fusion. If I had my choice in the segment, itd be an Accord I-4/6MT coupe, either an LX or the Sport model that was reviewed here recently in sedan form. The value proposition that the 200 makes would be very hard to ignore.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Yes, it isn’t Daewoo-level bad (neither was the old 200), but I still don’t get why someone would go for this over an Accord or Fusion. Initial tacile quality on the Chrysler is better than what’s on the Camry, but the Toyota wins at everything else.

    I guess it offers a V6 AWD version way cheaper and more powerful than what Subaru provides. So that is something.

    But still, even an FCA loyalist would likely be happier adding $35 a period to their 84 month loan to get a Charger, 300, or Cherokee.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d say the only thing the Camry wins on in this segment is super lease deals, and long-term, drive-it-until-it-begs-to-die durability. The styling’s crap, the interior’s drab, and the drive is undistinguished, to be kind.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I disagree on the drive… IF… your Camry is a SE. The SE drives very nicely. It’s neck-and-neck with four-cylinder Accords for the best ride/handling combination in the class.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Sorry, but I just spent a week in a brand-new 2016 Camry SE. It was Sominex on wheels. Mostly it was just annoying, because the firmer suspension and rubberband tires made it jiggly without making it handle worth a damn. It had the (lack of) steering feel of a ’70s American barge. And it was UGLY, inside and out. And cheap and nasty inside. It IS a cheap car by the pound, but Toyota has really cost cut the thing to death.

          The Fusion feels like a BMW in comparison.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Euro snob dislikes Camry, Episode 25689. Sorry, repeat across-the-pond ownership doesn’t imbue your opinion with any more validity than dal’s.

            I was surprised to see the Camry rank higher in the 10 Best/Worst list than the 3 series.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            As a very frequent renter I get to compare Camrys to the other cars in it’s class on a regular basis. It is the dead bottom of the barrel. None of them compare to a 3-series (or other cars in the $40-50K class), but I don’t expect them to.

            And I completely agree with Jack for once, there is nothing wrong with the Chrysler 200 for the price they sell them for, and I would have one over a Camry in a heartbeat. But I would probably spend the money for a Passat, Fusion or a Mazda6 if it was my money.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Having happened recently to rent a Camry SE in Nashville, one of those American cities where ordinary roads and traffic impose serious performance demands, I disagree. My Camry had a lot of stick and stayed very composed through some semi-abusive treatment. I found it pleasantly firm and controlled, not at all jiggly.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            To each his own, in Omaha I found it jiggly and unpleasant, and it wandered annoyingly on the highway (with <200 miles on it). Though infinitely better than my last trip to Nebraska, when Hertz gifted me with a Crown Victoria as an "upgrade". They DO have a sense of humor…

            What do you normally drive? I suppose that would make a big difference in ones opinion of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Mike, what year and trim of Camry are you basing this on? As dal said, the 4cylinder Camry SEs drive nothing like the softer LE/XLE.

        Comparing the 2015 Camry XSE V6 to the Accord V6 showed no gulf in interior quality (neither are near top of class and very little separates them on design quality or fit/finish), and the Accord was softer and rolled more. I’m not seeing the magic here.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I drove a 2015, probably a LE, definitely a four-cylinder. It wasn’t bad per se, but there was nothing memorable about it. Could be my personal biases, but I call ’em like I see ’em.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Understood. I’ve got my own biases–I don’t dislike the Accord but feel enthusiasts minimize its faults and overemphasize its strengths while doing the opposite with the Camry.

            The Camry LE is not a good emissary for the enthusiast community.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The Camry LE is indeed unmemorable.

            I have to single out the Camry interior for feeling cheaper than anything else I’ve driven in the class, including the Accord. The materials are hateful. It’s well screwed together, though.

            I like the Camry SE strictly for the drive.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Man, I’ve got to be out of touch or insane, and it wouldn’t be the first time for either. At the $34K upper price point, the materials in the Camry and Accord felt identical to me. Dash pad, hard below-equator plastics, headliner fabric, secondary controls, steering wheel leather–it all felt like the same quality. Maybe lower trims differentiate somewhat, but most of those materials will be the same. The Accord did not come across as any more upscale or appealing than the Camry, and a Fusion SE is a notable step above either.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Agreed that the Fusion feels more premium than either Accord or Camry, although the drive really suffers because of high weight. But I just can’t get past either the center stack or the seat cloth in the Camry. The stack is hard shiny plastic that doesn’t even try to look like anything different, with an ’80s-style segmented LCD display. The Accord has a lot of hard plastic but, in my opinion, disguises it a lot better and puts a few softer bits in good places.

            For what it’s worth, my wife and I also recently test-drove a RAV4 Hybrid and it gave both of us exactly the same impression. We choked on the feeling of cheapness in the interior, and ended up with a C-Max Energi instead. The C-Max isn’t perfect — the painted gray plastic isn’t a good look — but it comes across as a luxury vehicle compared to the RAV.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The one I got had the nasty plastic everywhere, but it had a full-color touchscreen. I hate touchscreens on principle, and this one was notably unresponsive but it did look OK. No old school LCD to be seen, even the instrument panel display was full-color.

            It had half vinyl, half woven artificial cloth stuff seats. I will say I thought the seats were much improved over previous generations.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            dal, the RAV4 interior is bad for a $26-30K+ vehicle, no argument there. It’s been a RAV weakness since at least the 2006 redesign, although that generation had some hard to describe charm and personality that helped offset it.

            Accord/Camry interior will probably come down to taste, I find them sixes. But I did find the single entune touchscreen in the Toyota far more user friendly and logical than the weird two-screen unit in the Accord. I actually am a bit revolted that I care enough to post about it, but personal biases are a weird thing.

            The Fusion feels heavy and solid, reminiscent of my Sportwagen, which I like. It doesn’t feel eager and light like a Mazda, but still responsive and very confident and Germanic for what that phrase is worth. What really made it feel heavy to me was the languid transmission response. It’s a great car for my tastes, at $34K for the new Sport I probably wouldn’t even strongly consider the Camry V6 XSE

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      most likely the 200 would be chosen over the Accord for one primary reason. Accord rarely discounts.

      If you are tipped 5 grand in your trade, you can hide it in a 200 with no money down. Very difficult to do with an Accord.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        part of the problem is that Honda and Toyota (especially Honda) don’t know what “options” are. Oh, you wanted leather seats? F**k you, go up a trim level. That’ll be an extra $5,000.

        • 0 avatar
          yamahog

          It’s how they do things – it simplifies the supply chains / manufacturing. I wish that I could a nicer Toyota without a sunroof though. And in Japan, you can mix and match the exact options you want but it might take them 6 months to build the car.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        The sad truth is once you’re upside down you’re stuck in cars that keep you that way. That Accord is a nice car a dozen years later and keeps value throughout it’s life in a way the 200 is very unlikely to regardless of the money on the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      If I was after something in the segment, I’d certainly test a high-trim 200.

      (Not a Charger or 300 because I can’t stand either one’s looks, and a Cherokee’s not in the same class, though I like them well enough.)

      I was window-shopping midsize sedans a while back, and on paper, the 200C looks really good – what others say about its interior above suggests it might actually BE good.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Having had a 2.4l for a week and then having a Pentastar, the V6 is so much better that you won’t notice the 1 or so mpg difference. With the Pentastar connected to a 6 speed box we averaged a little over 31mpg running 75+ through Indiana with 4 aboard and the trunk full of luggage.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The Pentastar 3.6 Liter is one of the finest mass-produced V6 motors produced by ANY manufacturer now, and is a true peach when matched with the 8 SPEED (not 9 speed) ZF-Clone FCA transmission.

      It’s very refined, very torque-rich, quiet at even triple digit speeds, reliable, and in many ways, reminds me of all of the goodness of the best that Toyota/Lexus V6s offer at a much lower price.

      It’s also relatively efficient.

      I am going to make it a point to drive a manual equipped Pentastar V6 in a Charger or Challenger soon.

  • avatar
    threeer

    My FIL (A GM man if there ever was one) currently daily drives his 200S and absolutely loves it. While I agree that the rear seating area is a tad cramped when compared to other cars, he hardly ever has anybody sitting in back, so it doesn’t matter much to him. It’s comfortable up front, quiet and doesn’t seem to have any problem keeping up with traffic. It’s a good looking vehicle, but seems to have gotten lost in the crowd of Camcordion-land.

    When it came time to look at getting a family hauler, we were interested in a used 200, but came across a stupid-good deal on a 2013 Cruze 2LT, so went that way, instead.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Though they call the 200 “midsize,” is there that much interior room difference between it and the “compact” Cruze?

      I feel like because the Cruze is a giant compact, and the 200 is a small midsize, they end up the same.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        +1, Corey. In the “sit behind myself” test, I actually find the Cruze (now the Cruze Limited, I believe) to have better back seat comfort by virtue of a significant advantage in headroom. The 200 is deal-breaker bad if you regularly have adult male back seat passengers. I’m 5’10” and find it absolutely miserable. I imagine an average height (5’5″) US woman or a child would be OK. Perhaps that was the design criterion.

        That said, I have a good friend who drives rentals 4-8 days per month. Like Jack, he’s generally positive about the 200. If you don’t regularly carry a back seat passenger, the 200 may be a viable option if the trim level, engine, and price you find suit your needs. I do like the idea of a Pentastar 200 as a sleeper (granted, pretty much every V6 or 2.0T sedan is a sleeper at this point in automotive history).

        Closest competitor to the V6 200 in my opinion? The turbo Verano.

  • avatar
    davefonz164

    I appreciate the honest review and feedback. I’ve been eyeing the V6 AWD models on the used car market for a while now and their depreciation is amazing haha……It should make an excellent buy.

    From the few people who bought the V6 models, they seem to really enjoy them, and really when you think of it, the Cherokee is almost identical and that sells really well with a smaller V6.

    I guess the perception of the Chrysler brand is that strong. That being said, a 2-3 yr old V6 AWD for like 10-12k seems like a decent deal to me.

    What y’all think?

  • avatar
    legacygt

    I had this car as a one-week rental and find much in this article to agree with. It’a a decent car. It’s quiet. I didn’t find the ride particularly good (especially when there’s the Accord, Mazda6 and Fusion out there). I didn’t like the transmission at all and neither did this review. When a car always seems to be in the wrong gear, that’s a big problem. A problem that is always present it cannot be dismissed. It is a constant annoyance. I recently purchased a Durango with an 8 speed and it is much better than the 9 speed in the 200. The other shortcoming is the rear seat space and door. The profile of the car cuts into headroom and makes getting in and out less than graceful. Again, this isn’t the biggest deal but it’s worse than any car in the class and that includes the Fusion which has a similar profile.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      I wonder if all the complaints about cars being in the “wrong gear” have to do with that transmission’s learning capabilities.

      When you hop into a rental, you get a car that’s programmed to the previous renter’s behavior. The transmission will adapt to your driving patterns eventually, but not before you’ve flown back home.

      That’s why long-term owners seldom complain about shifting, but renters and test-drivers do.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        That makes a lot of sense, now that you mention it.

        Since FCA seems to do better than “absolutely abysmal” with the same or similar transmissions (and their programming, which is the real thing with any modern transmission), that makes much more sense than “they just did it really awfully in a car that ought to be their volume leader”…

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        A transmission that shifts consistently, predictably, and logically shouldn’t need to adapt to anything. I can’t see how someone would choose to purchase a vehicle with the hopes that the transmission might eventually figure out acceptable behavior. There are plenty of transmissions that work fine right from the start.

        Regardless, if a transmission doesn’t know what it means when the driver floors the accelerator pedal, then it never will. That action is not subject to interpretation.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t have much time with a 9 speed yet. But Chrysler invented the adaptive transmission, so it would make sense that this keeps the tradition. The older mopar autos would start learning pretty well after a few trips maybe less. My moms old caravan felt awful sluggish when I grabbed it on a friday night but by Saturday night it would usually light up the tires at a stop light with just me in it.

  • avatar
    NoID

    On my first trip out to the proving grounds I had a rental 200S. It was competent and a nice cruiser, lively enough in the mountain twisties. And it did halfway decent reverse donuts at the scenic overlook I stopped at, so that was nice.

    I’d buy one. But I could also be a stand-in for the father in those DirecTV ‘Settler’ commercials, so maybe my purchasing decisions shouldn’t be a metric for others to follow.

  • avatar
    StuckInWI

    I bought a 200 Limited ($25.6K MSRP with destination) for $17.5K last December and share the same general sentiment as Jack. I have a long commute so I was looking for something comfortable and cheap. I have 12K on it now and have had no issues except for a defective tire that the Chrysler dealer took five visits to fix.

    I get about 36 MPG doing 70-75 on my 150-mile round-trip commute, so a little bit better than Jack. I do find the transmission objectionable though – it seems unable to decide whether it wants to be eighth or ninth gear (~2200 RPM or ~1700 RPM) even on long stretches of flat road. It also has an occasionally harsh shift (a known issue that started happening after a firmware update for the transmission). Getting in my wife’s Sienna is a constant reminder of the Chrysler’s shortcomings in this area.

    And @Relton is right – the Tigershark is an annoyingly noisy engine at idle. I am assuming it is the direct ignition. Whatever it is, the engine sounds cheap… but for me, cost-wise, the competition was a Corolla, so I turn up the radio.

    My only other gripe with the car is that changing the HVAC temp setting, without the Convenience Package, takes a lot of tapping either the “temp up” or “temp down” button. The previous generation 200 had a rotary knob that worked so much better.

    I detail cars for a hobby and the paint job quality is excellent and the Bluetooth works better than most (I am looking at you, Mazda).

    My previous 200 had the Pentastar, and I agree it is worth the money. But I found that dealers were desperate to move the 4-cyl. base Limiteds. Once you looked at an S or a C, the discounts dropped from $9K to $6K.

    As long as I can get $8500 for it when I trade it in 2-years with 80K miles, I will be happy. My wife’s Sienna feels like a Lexus after driving the 200 for a week, so next time it will be a Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “..and the Bluetooth works better than most (I am looking at you, Mazda).”

      Uconnect in general is excellent. It takes less than eight seconds to pair to my phone. My Volkswagen, OTOH, takes a full minute. You’d think there was a 1980s Game Boy powering the infotainment system in my Volkswagen, as slow as it is.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Ja, der Z80 should be fast enough, no?”

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        By pairing, are you referring to initial set up? Or do you mean every time you get in the car, it takes a full minute? I know VW moved to the new infotainment system for MY16, but I can’t remember if your Golf is a ’15 or ’16.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          No, I mean that every time I get into the car, it takes a full minute to connect to Bluetooth. It’s ridiculous, especially since my main mode for music is Bluetooth streaming with my phone.

          It’s a 2015, so it has the MIB I system with navigation…not the new CarPlay-enabled one that got ported over to all of the VW models for 2016.

          • 0 avatar
            TOTitan

            Which is why I waited for a 2016 sportwagen. MIB II is da kind

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Geez, that would drive me nuts! I currently use a little BT dongle that goes into the auxiliary port. If it takes more than 5 seconds, it’s a problem with the phone not automatically connecting.

            TOTitan, is MIBII any faster?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Play some Zelda!

        • 0 avatar
          TOTitan

          TMA1 MIB II works pretty damn good especially after the software update they came out with recently. We use the USB cable instead of bluetooth because it gives you access to messaging, phone, maps, pandora, etc. We have a beautiful and very powerful BMW 335d that she mostly drove before, but ever since I brought the 16 sportwagen se tsi home in september she mostly uses it instead of the BMW because she likes the MIBII so much. We have noticed that carplay is quicker to hook up than android auto since she has an I6 and I have a S5

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “My wife’s Sienna feels like a Lexus after driving the 200 for a week, so next time it will be a Toyota.”

      That’s part of the problem right there. You got a very good discount and you’re generally satisfied with the car but still going with a different manufacturer next go ’round.

      I don’t know the reasons and I don’t know if its actually true but it seems that FCA is unwilling to commit the resources necessary to move their cars from an after thought to something that one would readily compare to the segment leaders.

      This is also not new. LHS/Intrepid, the cloud cars and the LeBaron had some of the same issues.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “150-mile round-trip commute”

      OMG!

    • 0 avatar
      mattwc1

      Thanks for the real world review. I am seriously looking at one for my commute.I was curious if the transmission does better with the V6 compared to the Tigershark 2.4 but it generally seems to be a programming issue. Honestly, this is the really only scary thing about my buying one. However, it does seems to be programming rather than an actual hardware issue.

      There does seem to be many dealers who are pricing these to sell. It is a shame that FCA bet the farm on this (and the Dart) and are now dumping these models.

  • avatar
    Acd

    I’ve rented a bunch of these over the past few years and they became my go-to rental car of choice for many of the same reasons Jack listed above. The suspension is much crisper than the usual Somata/Camry/Altimas that live in the Emerald Club lane and I’d much rather drive a 200 than just about all of the “upgrade” crossovers that live in the Emerald Executive lanes. My biggest gripe with the 200 was the ridiculously short 1st gear–it reminds me of the last International box truck I rented–and that all the fuss and complexity of the 9 speed transmission didn’t translate into very good fuell economy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen 30 mpg in one but they’re a great highway car–once I made a 200 mile trip from the Kansas City airport to Wichita, KS (exactly 200 miles from driveway to driveway) in two and a half hours.

  • avatar

    Chrysler could salvage the 200 by making the Pentastar V6 standard and giving the rear door a 4″ stretch like they do for all the “L” versions of Chinese market cars. That would go a long way toward making the rear less cramped feeling and help the ingress/egress to the rear as well. It’s a shame because the 200 is beautifully styled both in and out.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I would disagree with you on the Pentastar, except that both the vehicles i drove with the 2.4-liter Tigershark / 9-speed combo were just dreadful. The 3.2 and 3.6-liter Pentastar engines are probably much better.

      It certainly needs to be a bit longer, though.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      And move the knob to the dash. The knob is in a bad location. Hell, just put a column shifter on it, even if it is an electronic one…

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yes, it is in a bad location. It’s very poor UI, because people will grab for it when they’re trying to change the volume or temperature. When I turned my Cherokee rental in on Friday, the guy next to me at the counter was ranting about how many times he did that with his 200 rental. The 300 appears to have gotten the dial-selector for 2016, but by virtue of the 300 having a more-traditional center stack and console, it’s set back further in that car and shouldn’t be confused as HVAC or infotainment input.

        They could definitely put it on the dashboard, a la Ram.

        Or, you’re right, they could get an electronic column shifter from Mercedes-Benz (like Tesla did; I believe the steering columns for the Model S and Model X are sourced directly from Mercedes-Benz). Or they could get it from BMW, who used one on the E65 7-Series and all of the modern Rolls-Royce models.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Bad back seat doors and lack of headroom

    The knob

    9 speed

    Tigershark 4

    Those are why this car fails.

    I would argue the new kia optima right now is the most feature laden midsizer and the best value, especially the eco version.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed on all points, precisely.

      Balky 9-speed auto means no sale, period. It’s the same story with every FCA vehicle that uses this transmission.

      The car would be better if FCA had exchanged 4″ of trunkroom for rear seat legroom. The trunk is huge and the back seat is small.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        They would have been better using the 6 speed from Hyundai. (Everyone should say no to the Chrysler 62TE)

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        After recently spending a week with a Sonata, I can say that the 200 feels 1-2 levels above in every measure. I don’t particularly notice the transmission in either, so that’s a non issue. Everything inside the 200 that you touch see or feel is a grade or two better than the Sonata. The Hyundai’s 4 banger may even be noisier. If the 200 wore any other badge, articles like this would never exist.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Living within 4 miles of the Chrysler/Fiat HQ in Michigan, I have seen plenty of these around. I must say that the well spec’d versions are nice too look at in my opinion, I especially like that blue color. I have never driven one personally, but I have always felt that the V6 AWD version is a pretty attractive bargain.

    I feel it is a shame that Chrysler is killing this car off, because it is perhaps the first Chrysler midsizer in a while that I feel is actually in the ball game against the competition. Maybe far out of first place, but in the ball game. Without driving it, hard to say if it deserves all the negative attention.

    It could have been something to build on. You don’t take a market segment by storm in one model cycle, it takes time.

    That being said, I hope Mazda can supply Chrysler with badge engineered 3’s and 6’s finally giving Mazda a wider sales outlet in the US and finally giving the Chrysler faithful world class small and midsized cars to choose from. Maybe it wouldn’t matter though, I though Chrysler was actually on to something with the Dart and 200. Too little too late I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I’ve driven a couple of 200Ss and it’s a perfectly cromulent car. It’s just crippled by still being a safe “whipping boy” for the automotive press. Plus the repeated micturating upon it by the company’s CEO.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I think the new Malibu is a much better whipping boy, to be honest. True, it grew to the point that it’s about as spacious as an Impala, but the interior feels cheap and won’t age well, and is quite a bit worse than most of the competition…including the 200.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          I agree. Both chevy and chrysler havent had a good midsizer in decades. Ford kills them in the midsize game.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I think the 200 is good, but not great. But it seems like FCA put forth more effort with the 200 than did GM with the Malibu, which—but for the fact that it’s bigger—seems destined to be the same unceremonious fleet queen that the outgoing one is. In fact, every last unit I’ve seen on the road so far has been a rental car, in refrigerator white.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            The current 2016 Malibu is doing quite well in comparison tests often testing out better than the Fusion, Camry and Accord and certainly the 200. It is also selling very well in both upstate, NY and in many parts of PA as I must have seen darn near 50 of them on RT 81 over the weekend during the Carlisle show. I would put money on the new Malibu’s sales being up considerably from the previous version for 2016. I’ll also wait a few years before putting down the interior quality of the new Malibu. It’s no better or worse than the Camry rentals I have driven and interior fit and finish are better than many 200’s I have rented. Heck one early build 200 Limited I had as a weekend rental had no less than 4 interior issues with barely 6K miles on the clock. The silly rotary knob wobbled, the passenger side visor mirror creaked when opened and closed due to the fact that neither screw was even close to being tight, there was already a dash rattle and the glove box opening mechanism sounded like glass crunching.

            Strange about the rentals as Chevy makes the previous Limited exclusively now for them. The NG Malibu is mainly aimed at retail.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          “I think the new Malibu is a much better whipping boy, to be honest. True, it grew to the point that it’s about as spacious as an Impala, but the interior feels cheap and won’t age well, and is quite a bit worse than most of the competition…including the 200.”

          It’s a General Motors product.

          Seriously, I say this being familiar with General Motor’s supplier relations and how they force suppliers to bid under the One Global process.

          To win General Motors supply contracts, LOWEST ABSOLUTE PRICE is far & away the most important consideration, and they even admit that suppliers better be able to match the absolute cheapest Chinese bidder’s price to win their business (they almost brag about it).

          GM will be bitten hard by this, in the marketplace (consumers – look at the quality of plastic interior trim in that Malibu you mention) and by vendors (when they finally “get done” with GM).

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            DW, for once I agree with you 100%.

            The “One World” is a world of extortion.

            I’m not a big flag waver, and in fact I drive a Japan-built car. But GM’s eagerness to export component manufacturing, and increasingly the assembly of the whole car, to Chine disgusts me. And especially so, considering they continue to exist only because the U.S. Government — i.e., us — saved them from their own ineptitude specifically to preserve American jobs.

            It’s short-sighted business that’s a craven laydown to the “what have you done for me this quarter?” mentality of Wall Street speculators. It’s a textbook example of how American business schools are teaching from the wrong textbooks. And it’s disgustingly immoral spit in the eye of U.S. taxpayers and workers.

            On top of all that, their failure to earn the loyalty of their own suppliers, in dramatic contrast to the Japanese makers, upholds their tradition of building an untrustworthy product I wouldn’t trust enough to buy.

            Same old GM. They’ll never learn.

          • 0 avatar
            indi500fan

            Are things even worse now than under the terror reign of Inaki Lopez? That certainly aided the big decline in market share in the late 90s.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        Cromulent – what an excellent description for the 200. Generally positive, but most people don’t know, and therefore think its bad.

        I hope this review embiggens the 200’s sales.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Wow, Kyree, that’s about the toughest assessment of the new Malibu I’ve heard anywhere. The only one that comes close was Ezra Dyer’s one-sentence dismissal in C/D about the hollow sound its suspension makes when going over a bump.

          I recall when the best-received ‘Bu came out in ’08 or ’09, and everyone fell all over themselves to praise GM for finally getting it right. Patrick Bedard wrote a thoughtful column that gently suggested people were overreacting in their surprise that the car was much better than expected, and that in the fullness of time they’d acknowledge the new one wasn’t quite best in class. I’m sensing a slightly darker version of that evolution in your comment.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        People need a reason to purchase the 200. When you have the Accord, Fusion, Sonata, Camry, and Optima all in the same segment, why take a chance on the 200?

        We all know what Hyundai did to brink more people to the brand. If FCA was willing to so something similar maybe the result would be different but as of know there’s not enough incentive for potential customers to give the 200 a try.

  • avatar
    NotFast

    It REALLY needs the HELLCAT and a SUPERCHARGER and then it will SELL in DROVES.

    ALL the GUYS in my MOPAR club will BUY MORE THAN ONE if FCA will step UP.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I feel bad for FCA in some ways, because they’re seriously trying. Whatever you want to make of the current crop, it’s many magnitudes better than it was during the DaimlerChrysler era. Fit-and-finish, feature content and design tend to be competitive. In my mind, the 200’s main flaw is that it needed to be a half-size larger in order to utilize that sweeping roofline without compromising occupant headroom.

    Truthfully, I don’t think I’d get a 200 because I’m not sure it’s in it for the long haul, especially that 9-speed transmission. I value longevity in a mid-sized sedan. My pick, then, would probably be an Accord (Sport or nicer). Ford also has a good track record with hybrids, so a CPO Fusion Hybrid or Energi would also be worth considering.

  • avatar
    bachewy

    Did you try adjusting the radio volume, fan speed, or change gears without looking down to choose the right knob? Every time I tried I grabbed the wrong one.

    Then there is the temperature control. It was only after 3 days I figured out where the visual cue for the temperature setting was. That cue is a tiny indicator that seems to say, “Why do you care what the temperature is set at?”

    It’s not a bad car, but no way would I own one.

  • avatar
    omer333

    I wanted to like this car. Really. They were just starting to hit dealership lots at the same time I bought my late, lamented Dart. Me and several members of a Dart forum ooohhed and aaaahhhed them.

    Sadly, when I had one as a rental last year I thought it was rubbish. It was mainly for the placement of the gear-selector knob, putting it near the A/C control instead of maybe flat on the center consol was a bad move; while driving slowly through the parking lot of my previous employer I tried to turn down the A/C, but instead put the car in neutral. I also did not care for how the rear seat was constructed: there’s these half-circles on the seats that made getting a child’s car seat to mount properly rather hard, I couldn’t get a booster to sit level. Personally, I thought the transmission would have been better as a six-speed, as I thought the car could not get out of it’s own way. Maybe that had to do with the Tigershark engine that was actually pretty good in the Dart?

    Still, after moving to Utah I entertained the idea of trading my Dart in for an AWD 200 S with the V6, but then my Dart blew up and that became a whole ‘nother fiasco.

    Shame, really. The Americanized Alfa-based cars that FCA introduced as the Dart and 200 should have been successes for the company. Key word here is “should”.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    We TTAC folk are the most patient in then world. Example, we waited Sixteen months for this Chrysler 200 review with barely a whimper!

    And much has changed in Jack’s mind in the interim as well! To wit, back then, it was ” And would anyone in their right mind select this sleek mongrel over the Honda Accord? Stay tuned. ”

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/de-pressing-reviews-ever/

    Now I’m wondering, what value are these reviews if they can be so different (in the case of 2014 there was no review, just the few comments to go by). Just like most of the automotive press (just look at most “first drives” and then read a review done 16 months later). Yet we put up with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      The story of why that original 200 review didn’t happen would be longer than the review itself.

      Truth be told, the 200 suits Florida just a tiny bit better than it does Michigan. Long smooth roads where interior quiet and effective A/C matter more than anything else.

  • avatar
    Chris from Cali

    Since the mechanicals are nearly the same, it would have been better to just have kept the Giulietta aesthetics as well. The 200 looks like a Neon that was slightly melted in a wind tunnel.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    If you must have a chrysler sedan. Buy a charger or 300. Forget dart/200

  • avatar
    roverv8i

    There are lots of complaints about the 9 speed. This is a ZF unit and is also used in Acura TLX v6, MDX, and optional on the Honda Pilot. I would like to know the real story on this transmission. I do know that Acura issued a TSB, I believe to reprogram it on the TLX. Are all of them manufactured by ZF or does Chrysler also make them? The thing I am trying to understand is what are the real issues and what is just mud slinging at Chrysler. Is it that it does not play as well with a 4 then a 6? Honda also uses them with 4’s in CRV’s in Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Chrysler made extensivr redesign changes to the zf unit….mostly cost cutting. They started with a turd and smeared it around a bit, and voila!

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        And what did they change exactly on the 9 speed to cheapen it?

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          You would have to read allpar on the 9 speed. There were dozens of hardware changes and they tried to roll their own software.

          • 0 avatar
            StuckInWI

            There are two 9-speed transmissions used in the 200. As I understand it, the 948TE is made by Chrysler in Indiana based on the ZF design and is used in Tigershark 200s, and the 9HP48 is made by ZF in South Carolina. I am not sure if Chrysler FUBAR’d just the 948TE or both.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Land Rover uses it as well, on the Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque. I haven’t driven those vehicles, so I don’t know how well it does, but my buddy just got a Range Rover Evoque, so I’l ask him how he likes it. Nickoo is right in that FCA made much bigger changes to the original design than did Land Rover or Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      There is a write-up about how the 9-spd auto functions, here at TTAC.

      During my test drive of one (Renegade), I found that it shifted at uneven intervals, often abruptly, and downshifts were harsh and unpredictable. As Jack mentioned, it doesn’t even use 9th gear until you’re doing 80.

      IIRC, there are at least two means of switching gears inside this transmission, and I think that is reflected in its poor driveability.

      This transmission doesn’t get rave reviews in Acuras, either, so it’s not all FCA’s fault.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Think back for a minute Jack. You complimented the paint thickness (not QUALITY, THICKNESS), and you complimented the windshield wiper controls. If you had to do that, don’t you think you MIGHT have been reaching JUST a bit? :)

  • avatar
    Dan

    My first hand experience with the 200 begins and ends with the car show, where the two things that stood out were A, that it was cramped front and back, and B, that the 200S models which were all they’d put out on display stickered higher than the base 300 sitting 30 feet away.

    Yeah they’re all Lexuses by the standards of 15 years ago, but in a world where a Sonata with a sorted out transmission and actual room inside is an $18,000 car too why settle?

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      I see a load of new sonatas around. It does what car buyers want: roomy and reliable.

      Auto journos and b&b, i use that term loosely, knocked it for the center dash layout. Apparently no one who boughy one listened to their “wisdom”

  • avatar
    Pan

    To echo Rover8vi, what gives with the ZF 9 speed? How does it perform with other makes that use it? If it’ o.k. there, why not with Chrysler? Ford/GM are supposedly bringing out a 10 speed.
    Aren’t all these multi gears overkill? You’d think 6 speeds would be enough.
    Are there any Chrysler owners out there who like their 9 speeds? Speak up and tell us why.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    A few notes about the Chrysler 200:

    When I sat in a high end version at the Toronto auto show two years ago I though the dash and centre console were near best in class and style.
    Later, after looking a few examples on Kijiji in low buck black trim the interior looks terrible, all goofy shapes in garbage plastics.
    I can’t explain the disparity.

    Also, if I paid my own hard-earned money on one I’ll take Sergio Marchionne to court for substantially devaluing my car with his “Who wants to build this thing for us, by the way the roofline is crap I know that now” statement he made.

  • avatar

    I’ve had a 2015 Chevrolet Malibu LT1 for the past week and will likely have it for many more (thanks Honda). I know the feels.
    The Malibu is an also-ran sedan. But I like it. The thing is so comfortable with its adequacy. It’s not the equivalent of the 400lb bro in a Raiders jersey who wants everyone to think he’s a demon on the gridiron when in fact he falls over, out of breath after a single set of downs. Nope. The Malibu says, “Hi. I’m a car.” Good enough.
    I wouldn’t buy one and faster than I’d buy a 200. I’d get a Mazda6, maybe an Accord. But I also wouldn’t tell anyone NOT to buy one. And maybe if I drove a 2016 Malibu I’d change my mind about that personal preference?
    Aside from agility, dragstrip launches and precision refinement (and forgive me for not wanting or needing higher quality workmanship in the environment where I might spend 90 minutes a day than in my own home), what’s not to like?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      If you’re fine with owning complete mediocrity, why not just get a Camry LE?

      It is just as unremarkable to drive, but will almost certainly have better resale (even if you are of the belief that GM and Toyota are equal in regards to long-term quality, that is not how the general population operates).

      Toyota dealers are fairly willing to deal on their sedans these days. If you had a signed offer on a Malibu, I’d bet you could get a Camry for close to the same.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I call BS on this ‘appreciation’ and every other car guy assessment that the 200 didn’t deserve to fail, because it “isn’t that bad.”

    Look, when you are replacing the Avenger – the freakin’ Dodge Avenger – which itself replaced some cloud car, you need to truly BRING IT. Instead, Chrysler introduced a vehicle that was *almost* as good as the Accord, but not quite. Back seat wasn’t as big. Ride/handling balance was mediocre. Transmission was wonky. Plus, FCA reliability. Sorry, NOT GOOD ENOUGH. This is exactly how vehicle fail in the US marketplace.

    Let’s all keep in mind what Jack drives when spending his own money. This ‘appreciation’ essentially is saying: “Chrysler 200 – it’s good enough for you, although I sure as hell won’t buy one.”

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I think Jack’s post above about the wiper controls and paint thickness are his confession that this column was meant from the start to be just a bit contrarian, surprising as that is from Jack.

      Other than FCA “reliability,” what puts me off this car isn’t the back seat, snug as it is. What puts me off is that you can’t get the only good engine without accepting 200 pounds of useless AWD hardware that’s hardly ever even connected, damaging both the ride and the MPG while bringing none of the dry-road handling benefits of SH-AWD or even the Subaru system. Chrysler’s refusal to sell the car in its obvious best configuration is maddening to me, and a deal-breaker.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I’d have bought a stick-shift Pentastar 200C for a little bit less than Accord money.

      Chrysler doesn’t want my business badly enough to offer one.

      Honda does.

      But it’s worth noting that I’d have happily paid more money for a TLX V6 six-speed, and Honda apparently doesn’t want my business enough to do THAT.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      Spot on. “Not that bad” is not really a recommendation. What were they supposed to put in the ads: “Not as bad as you have heard!” “Our last model totally sucked – this one is somewhat better!” “If you buy the extended warranty you won’t get burned on repair costs!” “The favorite of rental fleet buyers!” “Only slightly worse than an Accord and for a lot less money after the big incentives we will give you!”

      The world just doesn’t work that way. No one in their right mind buys these things new as their own personal vehicle. FCA sells them to fleets because otherwise they wouldn’t sell any at all.

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    Wait a minute here………..

    Am I on The Truth About Cars and there is a actual POSITIVE article about a Chrysler product ?????

    I had to scroll up just to make sure…. OMG it’s true.

    I test drove (and had a 200 rental, both were 4 cyl models) last year. They are not bad cars. I wish I could dump my Jeep Patriot right now for one. I do miss the CD player which is not an option in a 200.

    Still in shock that there was a positive article on a Chrysler product. What’s next??? A glowing recommendation for a Fiat ???

    (GRIN!)

  • avatar
    bryanska

    With all the complaints about the back seat, how many times will an actual adult ride back there?

    I did a 900-mile round trip in a rental 200, and my 4 year old had no complaints about the rear seat. If it’s just kids, the seat is fine.

    As an overall package, the car is fine if you like it. I’m recommending one to my wife, a nice loaded V6 200C.

    As for reliability, get the MaxCare extended warranty. It’s maybe $1000 bucks to get a 100k warranty on a new 200. And it’s a great warranty: guaranteed loaner, towing, etc etc. all rolled up into the $100 deductible.

    I’d rather have a comfy 200 with a warranty than a reliable boring Camry or rock-hard Honda. I’m always surprised how many people go “OMG reliability” for so many cars but never look at the perfectly reasonable cost of a Mfr extended warranty. Just bake it into the purchase price.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Yeah, bryan, except there are several other costs to poor reliability in addition to the dollar cost of repairs:

      •The cost in time and aggravation when the car fails and needs unscheduled service.

      •The loss of confidence in your mode of transportation.

      •The damage to resale value that comes with a poor reliability reputation. After the initial purchase price, depreciation is the #1 cost of car ownership. And the excessive depreciation of a car like the 200 – especially since it’s going to be discontinued, as might its entire brand – wipes out virtually all the dollar savings you gained up front. That’s especially damaging for a buyer like you, given that the only reason you’d pay up front to extend the warranty was because you intended to keep the car.

      I’m not saying it’s always the better idea to accept a hair-shirt driving experience for the sake of frugality and reliability. Just pointing out that poor reliability inflicts hidden costs even if a warranty covers the obvious ones.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        +1. Dealing with warranty claims aren’t fun even if they hit your wallet for $0.

        • 0 avatar
          bryanska

          Ajla, no repairs are fun, but if you love the car 360 days and hate it for 5 days, isn’t that better than driving a car that doesn’t turn you on?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “isn’t that better than driving a car that doesn’t turn you on?”

            I don’t know. If I’m honest with myself, no. For me it isn’t.

            My present car is *much* more fun to drive than my old Lucerne, but the headaches and quality problems with my current ride make me hate it 365 days a year, not only when it is having trouble. Really, reliability is enough of a virtue for me that something not breaking for a long time causes me to like it more and more over the years.

            I wouldn’t advocate owning something you hate, but I think I’d be happier today with the Buick.

            Maybe if I had more disposal income or had an AMG or Ferrari or something I’d feel differently.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        •The cost in time and aggravation when the car fails and needs unscheduled service.
        — Not really. With a dealer nearby, and online booking, I’ve walked into a Chrysler dealership and been out with a loaner in 15 minutes.

        •The loss of confidence in your mode of transportation.
        — Any 2015+ car is not going to leave you stranded until it hits very high mileage. Most trouble can be spotted long beforehand.

        •The damage to resale value that comes with a poor reliability reputation
        — This also needs to be baked in to the whole equation. Look at 5, 10, and 15 year horizons with depreciation, FMV, and transaction costs all baked in. The 15-year horizon takes you out into the next car purchase, so resale is included. Takes 30 minutes to build a spreadsheet that you’ll use to inform 100k in car buying decisions over a household’s lifetime.

        TL;DR — reliability can be addressed via running the numbers, and isn’t as scary in 2015 as it was in 1995.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        To put the reliability disparity in perspective, if things pan out exactly as the averages from the dependability surveys say they should, you’d be looking at less than one “problem” more in a 200 than an ES300 in the same time frame.

    • 0 avatar
      StuckInWI

      If it were only $1000 I would have one. The dealer offered it to me at $2495 to which I countered at EXACTLY $1000… he moved right on to the mop-and-glow. Didn’t get that either.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        Ha! “You’re gonna want that under coating!”

        Seriously though, the secret is any one of a number of third party brokers. They sell the exact same warranty, Chrysler MaxCare, with the exact same coverage, for much cheaper.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I had one as a rental last month. I thought it was pleasant, comfortable, and quiet. I liked the interior storage areas a lot and I thought the 4 cylinder engine was fine. I had two main gripes, however.

    I won’t knock on the automatic transmission more than I need to, but as a rental driver, I just found it shifted roughly and slowly when making parking lot maneuvers. Going from D to R and back was a effort in frustration. I could eventually get used to the dial selector, but it was just slow to react. Otherwise, I preferred it to the CVT in the last Altima I rented when driving around town.

    A bigger frustration, frankly, was that horrible blue lighting around the instrument cluster. I thought the interior was attractive during the day but at night I found the lights distracting. The other interior and dash lights could be easily dimmed but those blue lights didn’t dim with them nor could I find a way to dim them or turn them off. They were far too bright. WTF were they thinking? That alone would keep me from buying one. Seriously, they were that annoying. I’ve yet to hear this mentioned at all during any reviews. I can’t be the only one?

    • 0 avatar
      roverv8i

      I completely understand Steve. You need to be able to adjust it or turn it off. I have a TV in the bedroom with a blue light but you can turn it off in the settings. Otherwise I would have to cover it up with electrical tape :)
      Human eyes are sensitive to short wavelength light in the blue range. Studies have shown it can do the most to shift circadian clock ( http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/q-a-why-is-blue-light-before-bedtime-bad-for-sleep/ ) as one example. If you have an iPhone with the latest OS it now offers night shift to help reduce these effects by shifting the lighting to warm colors. For android check these out – http://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-get-ios-9-3s-night-shift-mode-on-android/
      As jkross22 says, the blue is cool, but it can be a bit hard on the eyes. The other side of that begs the question, will it help you stay awake when on a long night drive?

  • avatar
    Chan

    Aside from the transmission problems, I also found the visibility rather poor and the rear seat not as roomy as leading competitors.

    In a segment where functionality is king, your style-heavy entrant had better not have functional compromises.

    I agree that the 200 otherwise looks and performs great. Unfortunately, looks and performance are not what buyers seek here.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    The 200 is rental car garbage. I rented one for 7 days.

    Things I liked:

    – it’s a good looking car
    – there’s a lot of storage in the cubbies between the front seats
    – cool blue dash illumination

    Things I hated:

    – it’s a noisy car with noisy tires – anything other than baby oil smooth roads generates ample road noise
    – the engine sounds awful – typical weezy sounding 4 cylinder
    – The back seat is cramped for anyone over 5’2
    – the trunk is smaller than need be. For a family of 4 with luggage, it barely worked
    – the radio quality was really bad, even for a base stereo
    – the gear knob is a needless, foolish, ineffective use of tech and design. It wouldn’t engage properly half the time.

    Things that met expectations:

    – middling gas mileage – 22-23 mpg city/hwy combined
    – middling handling – I didn’t expect much and that’s what I got

    By way of comparison, I have a long term rental – a base Ford Transit Connect – because of the airbag recall – it’s a small minivan with a small 4 cylinder and it is miles ahead of the 200 in every way.

  • avatar
    here4aSammich

    My experience with the 200 as a rental left me walking away impressed as well. Last minute rental when Delta cancelled in Jacksonville and couldn’t get me back to Detroit until 2 days later. Chose the car off the Emerald Aisle and blasted north. Turned it in the next morning after 1200 miles of driving. As you point out it was competent, but nothing stood out as outstanding. I was impressed, however, that the 9 speed tranny kept the cruise at a steady 78 mph both up and down the mountains on the WV Turnpike. The computer registered 39 mpg for the trip. My commute is 110 miles round trip daily, 90% highway. I’m in the market to replace my ’05 Ford. A Chrysler dealer in Cleveland has a bunch of ’15 200’s for sale. They must have gotten a deal from Chrysler. All are Limiteds with less than 100 miles on the clock. All have sunroofs (single pane), and are on the lot as Chrysler Certified used for under $16k. No turbos, no CVTs. I’m hard pressed to wonder if this shouldn’t be my next daily commuter.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      At $25K, no way. At $16K, maybe. Do you plan on keeping it for a long time, because no matter how cheap you buy it, it will be worth even less when it’s time to sell it? Remember to get the extended warranty.

  • avatar
    mwellscubed

    I’ve been curious about this review for months, thanks for posting it. I’m taking delivery of a base 200 hopefully sometime tomorrow, after waiting nearly 6 months due to production delays. (Company car, long story)

    I’ve driven one as a rental before, and I’m really excited, coming from a base Fusion, to have much more comfortable seats and a quieter cabin to enjoy. Unless the seats in the upmodel Fusions are better, I can’t understand why anyone likes the Fusion for long trips.

    Yeah, sure, there’s better cars out there, but I’ve always liked how the 200 is just different enough from its competitors to stand out slightly. Plus, my other two choices were the warmed over fleet edition Malibu, and the Trax. So, you know, when you put it that way…

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    The great is the enemy of the good. If this was Soviet Russia or the America of the 1960s, then this would be a great car, a wonderful car. A few flaws but not horrible. But it’s not, it’s America 2016 where we have a whole bunch of very good and reliable cars to choose from. In that market, “not horrible” just doesn’t cut it, not when people are paying their own money and paying anywhere close to list. So if you are FCA, the only way to move this iron is either to sell it cheap to rental fleets or put all kinds of cash on the hood. If you were paying the same money, you’d be nuts to buy this over say an Accord, and no one does.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      “…a great car, a wonderful car…”

      You forgot to end it with “…it’s the best.”

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      All true, but what’s also true is that personal preference is completely unaccounted for in that equation.

      I like the 200. I’d absolutely buy it over an Accord. I just like it better. The degrees between “great” and “good” aren’t enough to overcome the degrees between “like it” and “don’t like it” for me.

      In 2010 I tried to get my wife to buy a CRV or a RAV4. I’d even buy her a used Lexus RX, but she really wanted the new Tucson. It was louder, rougher, smaller, and overall not as nice… but it was what she liked.

      At some point, people spend their money on what makes them happy. At real purchase prices, a 200 is just plain more features for the money than an Accord at the same price, reliability and resale excluded. And for some people that’s enough.

  • avatar

    I always admired this car for its exterior elegance. When most new cars have massive ungainly grilles or unnecessary points of differentiation, the design of this Chrysler is very cohesive and quietly elegant. The proportions of the front grille and lower valence are very attractive in my eyes. I would have no qualms with owning one of these.

  • avatar

    It is an absolutely different experience for a regular car driver to be able to drive a supercar as opposed to a supercar driver to simply drive another one. The new experience allows the driver to make comparisons and truly see the supercar in a new light.

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