March 27, 2014 10:45 AM | By Jeremy Sinek for MSN Autos

2015 Chrysler 200 first drive



2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)
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  • 2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)
  • 2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)
  • 2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)
  • 2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)
  • 2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)
  • 2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)
  • 2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)
  • 2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)
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2015 Chrysler 200 S

Things are looking up for Chrysler’s midsize sedan

2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)

Louisville, Kentucky – Launching the replacement for an established car model can be a challenge if the outgoing design is already admired and successful. But that hardly applies in the case of the Chrysler 200.

Admittedly, Chrysler’s midsize family-sedan candidate did become more respectable when the former Sebring was renamed 200 and heavily worked over for 2011. But the basic architecture goes back to 2007, and it was no benchmark back then. So when it came to replacing the Chrysler 200, it was not so much “hard act to follow” as “get that thing outta here.”

The outgoing 200 was loosely based on hardware shared with then Chrysler partner Mitsubishi. For the 2015 model, Chrysler turned to its latest bestie for a chassis donated by fellow Fiat-Group brand, Alfa Romeo. Suitably adapted for North American consumption, the flexible and stretchable Compact US Wide platform also underpins the Dart compact sedan and the Jeep Cherokee.

Almost the only hardware carried over from before is the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6. The base 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine is a new Fiat-based design. A new nine-speed (yes, you read that right: nine-speed) automatic transmission replaces the previous four- or six-speeds, and a new AWD option saves fuel by automatically disconnecting when not needed.

Class-leading self-driving capability

2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)

Other highlights include a rotary-knob gear selector, and a class-beating selection of available electronic safety and driver-assist features including active lane-keeping assist, self-parking capability, plus adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning, both with the ability to autonomously brake the car to a full stop to avoid a collision.

Without changing the body dimensions much (about 28 mm wider and 15 mm longer), Chrysler has transformed the 200’s appearance. Admittedly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but surely nobody could disagree that the new shape is not only vastly prettier than the old one – it’s a looker, period. And not just a pretty face: the claimed drag coefficient of 0.27 is among the lowest of any car.

Powertrains aside, mechanical hardware is modern-conventional: all-independent coil-spring suspension by front MacPherson struts and a rear multi-link arrangement; four-wheel disc brakes; and electric power steering.

Trunk volume expands to 450 L from 390, but there are no dramatic changes in overall people space: the numbers show more shoulder room, a little more rear legroom, but significantly less headroom front and back. Overall, cabin and trunk volume respectively are below and above average in its peer group.

Priced to sell

2015 Chrysler 200 S (© Photo: Jeremy Sinek)

At launch this spring the 200 will be offered in four flavours, all priced to sell. Dickering for the base LX starts at $22,495, at which price some of the less-expected standard features include Keyless Enter ‘n Go, rear armrest with storage and cupholders, and electronic parking brake with Safe Hold.

Next up the prestige ladder is the Limited, which for $24,995 adds (to name but some) aluminum wheels, heated seats with driver’s 8-way power, voice activation and Bluetooth audio streaming, and upgraded UConnect with a 5-inch touch-screen and SiriusXM.

At $26,995 the 200 S is the family athlete, featuring sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels and sport seats, plus paddle shifters and an S mode for the transmission. The luxury flagship is the $27,995 200 C with exclusive fixtures that include leather, 6-way power passenger seat, heated steering wheel, backup camera, 8.4-inch touch-screen multi-media centre, and dual-zone climate control.

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