The Chrysler 200 is an attractive, comfortable, and truly appealing sedan. A beautiful and neatly detailed interior blends amicably with the smooth, graceful exterior. Introduced for the 2015 model year, this latest Chrysler 200 is a striking improvement over the previous version.
For 2016, Chrysler 200 has just a few feature changes, along with some interior improvements, and three new exterior colors. 2016 Chrysler 200S and 2016 Chrysler 200 Limited models come standard with a rearview camera. Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection are optional for the Limited, which can now be equipped with a V6 engine. A heated steering wheel is now standard on 200C models.
A 90th Anniversary Package is available, to mark the 90th year of the Chrysler brand, based upon the Limited model.
Two engines are available. Chrysler’s 3.7-liter V6 engine, developing 295 horsepower and mating with a 9-speed automatic transmission, is a smooth-operating powertrain. The V6 amounts to Chrysler’s answer to turbo-four engines available from competitive makes. With the V6 engine, the Chrysler 200 is EPA-rated at 19/32 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined.
An also-smooth 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, but all trim levels other than the 200LX can get the V6. Gas mileage is EPA-rated at up to 23/36 mpg City/Highway with the four-cylinder engine.
The Chrysler 200 is built on an extended version of the Dodge Dart platform, adapting the Dart’s front and rear suspension, as well as electric power steering. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available as an option on 200S and 200C models.
Inside is an attractive cabin, spacious in front but tight in the back seats.
Underway, the Chrysler 200 is pleasant, though a bit firm, with average handling.
The Chrysler 200 has received excellent crash-test ratings from both governmental (NHTSA) and insurance-related (IIHS) testing agencies.
Chrysler 200 LX ($21,995) comes with air conditioning, cloth upholstery, four-speaker audio, USB port. Limited ($24,145) models step up to 17-inch alloy wheels and a Uconnect 5.0 audio upgrade with six speakers and Bluetooth, rearview camera, touchscreen media center, and power windows. The 90th Anniversary Package includes navigation, Harman Kardon audio, a power driver’s seat, and other extras.
Chrysler 200S ($25,345) gets special exterior trim, a sports suspension, black cloth seats with leather trim, power driver’s seat, foglamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel, paddle shifters, 18-inch aluminum wheels, and power heated mirrors.
Chrysler 200C ($27,225) features Nappa leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, power passenger seat, seven-inch information display, remote start, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The top Uconnect system now includes a Siri Eyes Free compatibility, Drag and Drop Menu Bar, and Do Not Disturb function.
Optional safety features include an impressive SafetyTec package, offering a LaneSense lane departure warning, Rear Cross Path Detection, and Full-Speed Collision Warning-Plus (with autonomous braking in some conditions). Adaptive cruise control is available.
The Chrysler 200 presents a fresh appearance up front, smooth and rounded, with a refined grille. The long roofline tapers downward toward the tail, approaching its short, flush decklid.
Overall, this 200 looks more expensive than its actual cost demonstrates. The 200 might not follow the rules set by either the current, larger Chrysler 300 or the prior 200 sedan, yet the total effect comes off quite well.
Superior detailing transformed the interior of the current Chrysler 200 into a vehicle in another league: roughly, on the same level as the Dodge Durango and Jeep Cherokee SUVs. And that’s a laudable achievement. A wealth of desirable functionality faces the driver, from sliding cupholders to a wealth of storage compartments.
Not only the dashboard covered with high-grade materials, interior fits and finishes score strongly. Quite a few design touches are both distinctive and functional, including the pass-through storage area tucked into the center console in the rear. Also noteworthy is the rotary shift controller, though not everyone considers that an improvement over the traditional shift lever.
Interior space was shuffled considerably as part of last year’s reworking. Front seats feel spacious, though the seating position is somewhat low. The steering wheel column tilts and telescopes.
The shape of the rear-door openings makes slipping into and out of the back seat a little challenging. For anyone over six feet tall, the swooping roofline translates to a lack of headroom. On the plus side, rear passengers benefit from a handy flip-down armrest, with a built-in storage compartment. All Chrysler 200 models have a 60/40-split back seat with a useful trunk pass-through.
Driving a Chrysler 200 is a pleasant experience, but not a particularly distinctive one. In terms of road behavior, it provides a firm, yet somewhat muted overall feel.
Chrysler 200 V6 versions deliver strong acceleration, and their suspensions are nicely damped. Even so, handling qualities aren’t the sharpest of the lot, predictable, but nothing special. It rides quite nicely, but it’s not as soft as a Nissan Altima, which is a sporty sedan, nor is it as sporty as a Ford Fusion.
Manual-shift modes and paddles help bring out the best elements of the V6. At times, the 9-speed automatic transmission may shift abruptly, especially when tied to the four-cylinder engine.
If you choose a front-wheel-drive model, don’t be startled by a touch of torque steer (experienced as a slight tug on the steering wheel) when accelerating. With all-wheel drive, torque steer isn’t an issue.
The Chrysler 200 delivers ride comfort, V6 performance and styling. The Chrysler 200 LX is among the most affordable premium midsize sedans.
Driving impressions by Bengt Halvorson, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.