The midsize Chrysler 200 competes in the toughest field of all, against the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, as well as the Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion, all solid midsize sedans. After years of chugging uphill, Chrysler has announced the end is near. The 2017 Chrysler 200 could be the last model year. It’s a good car. If prices drop to get rid of the last of them, you could do worse than to snatch one. The current-generation is a fairly new product.
The Chrysler 200 is stylish, comfortable, and appealing. It’s not as soft as the Nissan Altima, nor as sporty as the Ford Fusion, but rather finds its own way. It’s built on an extended version of the Dodge Dart compact sedan platform and wheelbase.
Not surprisingly, there aren’t many changes for 2017. But then this model was only introduced for 2015, so not many changes were needed.
For 2017, Chrysler 200 gets better looking, with a new package called Dark Appearance, with glossy black 18-inch wheels, halogen headlamps with black moldings, and black exterior trim. It appears the Chrysler 200 is mourning itself.
The base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder making a decent, if uninspired, 184 horsepower, mated to a sophisticated 9-speed automatic. There’s also a quick V6 making a strong 295 horsepower and using that same transmission with paddle shifters, with all-wheel drive available.
EPA fuel mileage for the four-cylinder is 23 mpg City, 36 Highway, 27 Combined. The V6 gets 19/31/23 mpg, about 1 less mpg with all-wheel drive. Not much if any better than some midsize crossovers.
The safety results are excellent, with the top Good rating in all crash categories from the IIHS, and that includes the difficult small-overlap front test. For its forward collision avoidance system, it was rated Superior, although for headlamps it only got Marginal. Overall it made Top Safety Pick. The NHTSA gave it five stars in everything except rollover, where it got four stars.
Standard safety equipment includes front knee airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, active front headrests, and a rearview camera. The top 200c Platinum model offers heaps of optional safety equipment, including lane-departure warnings and prevention, forward-collision warnings with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts.
The 2017 Chrysler 200 is offered in five models: LX, Touring, Limited Platinum, 200S, and 200C Platinum.
The LX comes standard with cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable front seats, air conditioning, keyless entry, LED ambient interior lighting, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a four-speaker AM/FM audio system, a rearview camera, a USB port, an auxiliary input jack, a 12-volt outlet, and 17-inch steel wheels with wheel covers.
The Touring model adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 5.0-inch center touchscreen, Bluetooth, and alloy wheels.
The Limited Platinum gets a compass, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, two additional speakers, and an 8.4-inch center touchscreen.
The 200S comes with heavy duty brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, sport cloth seats with leather bolsters, 18-inch satin chrome wheels, acoustic glass windshield, heated mirrors, fog lamps, and black chrome interior accents.
At the top of the lineup is the 200C Platinum, which features LED fog lamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, rear air ducts, a 7.0-inch configurable instrument panel display, nine speakers, and remote starting
A new Alloy Edition for the 200S features a black and caramel interior, chrome exhaust tips, piano black and titanium interior accents, a unique grille, and dark bronze wheels.
Navigation and Sound Group I includes a nine-speaker 506-watt sound system, a navigation system, Bluetooth, HD Radio, SiriusXM Traffic, SiriusXM Travel Link, the Uconnect Access smartphone app, a WiFi hotspot, and the configurable 7.0-inch instrument cluster display.
Sweeping, stylish sheetmetal hides the Chrysler 200’s compact car roots, and gives it sophistication. It flows effortlessly over the long arched roofline. The roofline disguises the reality that it’s built on the wheelbase of a compact car, but the inboard wheels give it away. Still, it’s a nice counterpoint to the taut, sportier look of the Dart. We like the down turned shoulders dropping to the short rear deck, with standard LED taillamps. LED headlamps and running lights are optional.
The attractive body doesn’t have a bad angle. But it has a lot of hints: Saab in the refined front end, Audi A7 and Ford Fusion in the roofline, elegant details from the Genesis G80 and Lexus It looks expensive.
The cabin is a showpiece. The interior is warm and classy, one of the best in the midsize class. It’s superbly detailed, refined but with a fantastic, tech-centric look. The dash is covered with premium material, while the fit and finish is top notch. There’s an embossed Detroit skyline under the console.
Some design touches are functional and distinctive, like the pass-through storage area in the center console, and the space-saving rotary shift knob, sliding cupholders, big dials for audio and fan, and lots of cubby holes.
The dash is split vertically, allowing a carved-out space below, and it’s adorned in some unusual and attractive colors and grains, including an open-pore wood on the 200C that’s simple and beautiful. The gauges and center display float together in a sleekly curved cutout from the soft-touch dash.
There’s plenty of room in the front seats, while optional sport seats have an ample range of adjustment and good bolsters for long-distance support. Not so roomy in the back seats, which are difficult to climb into because of the door cutouts into the swoopy roofline. There’s less room in the rear seat than in the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, or Ford Fusion. On the upside, there’s a flip-down armrest with storage, and 60/40 seat with a pass-through to the large 16-cubic-foot trunk.
Unfortunately the base powertrain doesn’t meet the quality of the cabin. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is the same as used in the Dodge Dart, Jeep Cherokee and Renegade, and in the Chrysler 200 at least, it isn’t strong, Its 183 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque should be enough, but acceleration is adequate at best. Meanwhile the nine-speed automatic transmission, which doesn’t have a manual mode, shifts unpredictably and sometimes too slowly, leaving the engine to rev while it waits for the gear to engage.
So we choose the smoother 3.6-liter V6, making 295 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, and having strong acceleration. It uses the same nine-speed with similar issues, although in the V6 we’d say the shifts are too abrupt. But at least that can be overcome by shifting with the standard paddles. But if you’re in ninth gear on the freeway, and want immediate acceleration, you might have to click the paddles three times, because the top three gears are overdrives for better mileage.
The rotary shift dial lets you select a Sport mode that gives the 200 more steering weight and better powertrain response.
The V6 has some torque steer in front-wheel drive, but we think the available all-wheel drive might make it go away, because it sends up to 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels.
The handling is predictable and unremarkable, somewhere in quality between the Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. The 200 is generally well-behaved, and it rides quite well. It shares the Dart’s front struts and rear four-links, and electric power steering, making it pleasant and progressive, with a firm yet muted feel.
It’s smooth and the steering is reasonably responsive, but its attention drifts as the cornering forces build. It’s definitely not a sport sedan. It feels better as a comfortable 200C than a sporty 200S. Although it looks better as a 200S.
Great looks, sharp cabin, good ride, acceptable handling, and a smooth and strong although thirsty V6. Chrysler 200 is being discontinued, so look for deals that make this car a good buy.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.