We were impressed by our first drives in the Chrysler 200 series, and after spending a week in the 2015 Chrysler 200C AWD, we’re no less so now.
The Chrysler 200 is, of course, the new mid-size Chrysler, a notch below the Chrysler 300 series, a replacement for the Chrysler 200 that ran from 2011 to 2014 as a renamed and heavily refreshed Chrysler Sebring. The 2015 Chrysler 200 debuted this spring is new from the ground up. It’s based on the same platform as the Dodge Dart, though with a longer wheelbase, but is otherwise a different car, from body to some of the engines to trim.
Its task, of course, is to represent Chrysler in the midsize wars, and Chrysler has sent it out with a stylish body with a base trim dubbed the 200LX starting at $21,700. That is, as you might imagine, rather bare boned, with the model range running up through the $23,255 200 Limited, the sportified 200S at $24,495 and the top of the line Chrysler 200C, the subject of this test, with a $25,995 price tag.
Actually, our subject is the 2015 Chrysler 200C AWD, which starts at $30,195. If a four grand jump seems a leap too far for all-wheel drive, the difference comes from not just all-wheel drive but the V-6 engine it requires.
The Chrysler 200 line has as standard equipment the 2.4-liter four-cylinder TigerShark engine that’s seeing wider implementation across Chrysler Group vehicles. Chrysler expects about seventy percent of all Chrysler 200 sales to have the four.
The top-of-the-line 200C can have the 2.4-liter but only with front-wheel drive, as can the 200S, and both of those models can have the V-6 with front-wheel drive. Here in the Snow Belt, we’d appreciate the all-wheel drive, along with a set of good winter tires, to get around in January and February.
As a 2015 Chrysler 200C, our test vehicle had bright metallic accents to its front grille, as does the 200 Limited, the 200 LX being noticeably plain while the 200S has a gloss black trim that disappears against darker colors.
The grille and headlights form a single unit with the winged Chrysler logo predominantly in the center. The front end, at least, has been described as “the new face of Chrysler,” and if not as striking as some—think the Ford Fusion’s Aston Martin-like grille—the look is clean and with standard light pipe or LED daytime running lights, a visual standout. A distinctive loop of LED’s form the taillight on each side.
We liked the interior when we first drove the 2015 Chrysler 200 and after spending a week in the 200C, still find its fluid shapes attractive and, for lack of a better word, modern. The instrument panel, bathed in soft blue illumination, is clustered together with the multi-information display in the center of the dash. All trim levels come standard with a five-inch touchscreen display, while the Navigation and Sound Group increases the screen size to 8.4 inches.
The instrument panel has a large speedometer and tachometer which for some reason have been labeled “speedometer” and “tachometer” on the trim around the dials. Maybe some might not know the difference? The speedo and tach are widely separated and there’s another full-color screen—a seven-inch display—between them where a ton of data elements can be shown. The fuel economy display, for example, has a graphical display of average fuel consumption against current consumption, plus a large digital average fuel readout, plus remaining fuel range, and it’s only one of a number of information and control screen options. Chrysler is top rank when it comes to dash and data display.
For a modern design, the Chrysler 200’s interior has little in the way of accessible storage bins. There’s room under the center armrest, but the center console has nothing but a pair of cupholders. Unless you look under the center console. There’s a tray down there—with the skyline of Detroit embossed on it—about ankle level. But it’s wholly inaccessible to the driver while underway.
The lack of room is surprising considering that Chrysler has removed the shift lever from the 200, replacing it with a twist knob that saves room…but where did the room go. Oh, yeah, down at ankle level.
Chrysler’s also provided a lot of ways to run up the price tag on the 200. In addition to the standard dual-zone climate control, uConnect voice control, satellite radio and heated front seats, our test 2015 Chrysler 200C had the full run of options, including Safety Tec ($1,295), Premium Group ($995), Navigation and Sound Group ($1,395) Premium Lighting Group ($795) and special 19-inch alloy wheels ($695). Altogether, along with $995 destination charge, the bottom line comes in at $36,365. (see window sticker next page for details)