2016 Chrysler 200C review: A competitive mid-size sedan that got lost in the crowd

2016 Chrysler 200C

2016 Chrysler 200C

Let me put it this way: If the boss assigned you a 2016 Chrysler 200C as a company car you would probably be very happy with it.

The mid-size family sedan is good looking, comfortable, quiet, powerful enough, and fuel efficient, It handles satisfactorily and, depending on options, is filled with technologically modern comfort and convenience features.

But, if you are simply planning to buy your own mid-sized family sedan, your reaction might be quite different. There are two reasons in particular for any hesitancy you night have.

Chrysler instrument panel

Chrysler instrument panel

First, the market is crowded with mid-size family sedans. You would have to study comparable Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, Mazdas, Hyundais, Kias, Fords, Chevys and Volkswagens to find which automobile is the one that would satisfy you most.

Second, and this could be the real deal breaker, this second-generation Chrysler 200 and its stablemate, the Dodge Dart, have been condemned to an early death. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has announced that these vehicles, introduced in 2014, will be allowed to run their course and their production facilities will be converted for building Jeep and Ram truck products. The end for the Chrysler 200 and the Dart may come as early as the 2018 model year.

The reasoning is that buyers are clamoring for pickup trucks, crossovers and sport-utility vehicles. The total family sedan market is shrinking and there are so many pieces of the pie that motorists haven’t really hungered for a taste of Chrysler. This fervor for trucks and tall wagons could wane with a significant increase in gasoline prices, but the experts don’t see this happening anytime soon.

Of course, Fiat Chrysler could hold a fire sale as the end approaches,and that could make the Chrysler 200 a sensible purchase. So, with that in mind, let’s see what the 200 is all about.

Chrysler front seats

Chrysler front seats

While the attractive design comes with a low roofline that can make ingress and egress a bit awkward, once inside the vehicle passengers will find that there is room for four adults up to about 6 feet tall. The trunk is more than adequate, with 16 cubic feet of cargo space.

While a peppy 295-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine is optional on the 200C, the test car was equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder motor optimistically named Tigershark. Its 184 horsepower and 173-pound feet of torque are adequate for most assignments, but it doesn’t nearly have the bite its name would suggest.

Armed with spurs, a whip and a heavy right foot, you can nudge the 3,500-pound sedan from a stop to 60 mph in perhaps 9 seconds. The standard 9-speed automatic transmission moves smoothly through the gears, but occasionally seems to take its good old time in deciding which gear it is going to engage.

On the other hand, the 4-cylinder Chrysler 200C can return an EPA-estimated 23 miles per gallon of unleaded regular-grade gasoline in the city and 36 mpg on the open road. In several hundred miles of meandering around a variety of roads, I averaged 29.8 mpg.

That was in a Chrysler with standard front-wheel drive. For those who must fight the onslaught of winter, all-wheel drive is optional, but only with the 6-cylinder models.

Chrysler rear seats

Chrysler rear seats

The suspension, MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link setup at the rear, is tuned for Sunday-afternoon-drive comfort. It won’t shame itself on the back roads, but you won’t want to go barreling around any tight turns. The optional heavy-duty, 4-wheel antilock disc brakes are appropriately strong and the electric rack-and-pinion steering is responsive and reasonably accurate.

Inside, the Chrysler 200C has comfortable leather seats, mostly upscale appointments and a thoughtfully laid-out instrument panel. The rotary gear selector in the center console takes a little time to get used to, but it is a real space saver.

Among the standard safety features are airbags, side curtains, rear-view camera, stability control, traction control and electronic bake-force distribution. The Customer Preferred Package ($1,295) includes emergency brake assist, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, automatic high beam control, forward collision warning, adaptable cruise control and blind-spot and cross-path warning.

Base price of the 2016 Chrysler 200C is $27,570. That includes dual-zone climate control, UConnect infotainment system with 8.4-inch touch screen, 7-inch driver information display cluster, Bluetooth integrated voice command, heated front seats and audio system with available satellite radio.

Chrysler etrunk

Chrysler cargo space

The Premium Group($995) adds ventilated front seats, wood and chrome interior accents, 115-volt auxiliary power outlet and memory settings for the rear-view mirror, radio presets, exterior mirrors and driver’s seat location.

The Navigation and Sound Group ($895) includes navigation, 9-speaker sound system and a 506-watt amplifier.The Premium Lighting Group ($795) adds high-intensity-discharge headlights plus LED fog lights and LED daytime running lights. Another $995 will get you the heavy-duty brakes and19-inch aluminum wheels.

Add all of that, plus the $995 delivery charge, and the suggested retail price of the 200C comes to $33,540.

All things considered, the 2016 Chrysler 200C is a viable alternative to its many competitors. Too bad it probably won’t be around long enough to get the attention it deserves.

Turn page for complete specifications.