New & Used Chrysler 200: In Depth
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The Chrysler 200 is the mid-size sedan offering that represents the combined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles combine in head-to-head competition with Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, and the Honda Accord. It's a particularly tough segment, but with the latest generation of 200, Chrysler at last has a modern vehicle with which to face off against the larger companies.
Even if the Chrysler 200 doesn't decisively dominate the competition in any area, it's an attractive, comfortable, and feature-rich sedan offered in carefully chosen trim levels at reasonable prices--and we expect it to do better than its predecessors did.
Today's Chrysler 200 faces tough competition from ever-more-competent mid-size sedans offered by the rest of the major players. In many ways, the new 200 is really the car that Chrysler should have had years ago in such a critical segment. While the new Chrysler 200 isn't perfect, it will suit style-conscious buyers who value comfort and features--and it offers optional all-wheel drive, found only on the Ford Fusion (as an option) and Subaru Legacy (as standard equipment).
While the prior 200 was offered as both a four-door sedan and a two-door convertible, with the choice of a retractable hard top or a folding cloth roof, the new 2015 Chrysler 200 is sold just as a sedan. At this stage in its evolution, low-volume convertible models aren't a luxury Chrysler can afford to indulge in.
The new 200 has a very refined grille and front-end appearance, an elongated roofline, and a nicely tapered tail. The cabin's along the same lines as the attractive cabins in the Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Durango: it's swathed in top-grade materials, and sports an innovative center-console design that allows pass-through storage area beneath, as well as sliding cupholders and versatile cubbies.
The 200 comes with a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines, front- or all-wheel drive. The 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter four is smooth enough but light on thrust; the V-6 has 295 hp, enough to overwhelm front-drive versions. Built on an extended Dart platform, the 200 has predictable, unremarkable handling. It's not as supple as an Altima or as taut as a Fusion, but it's pleasant and progressive enough.
Where the 200 falls short of the mid-size standard is in rear seat space. The front seats are roomy enough, with a low driving position--but in back the low roofline makes entry and exit a chore.
Safety equipment now includes forward collision warnings and rearview cameras on most models. Other features include standard Bluetooth and USB ports, power features, and cruise control; major options on the list are a sport suspension, ventilated front seats, and real wood interior accents.
Older Chrysler 200s
The previous Chrysler 200 was a new model in 2011, although under the skin it was a heavily redesigned Chrysler Sebring. The 2007 through 2010 models so tarnished the Sebring model name that the company chose to retire it altogether. The largely redone 2011 model lasted four model years, on underpinnings that were already four years old--making it by far the oldest competitor in the category by the time it was retired.
The first Chrysler 200 offered a choice of two engines: a base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, paired with either a four- or six-speed automatic, or a Pentastar V-6 displacing 3.6 liters and available only with the six-speed auto. The 2.4-liter engine produced a feeble 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque but managed a respectable gas mileage of 20 mpg in the city and up to 31 mpg on the highway, while the V-6 delivered a healthy 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque with a fuel economy of 19 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. The six-speed automatic did a great job of getting the most out of either engine, but the four-speeder used for the smaller engine was downright archaic against the competition.
The 2011-2014 Chrysler 200 was most at home on straight highways, where its hydraulic power steering offered nice weighting and some actual road feel. It wasn't so enjoyable on rough surfaces or curvy roads; if you sent too much power through those front wheels on a turn, its tendency to torque-steer--to pull to one side or the other--left the 200 flustered. Chrysler for 2012 offered a sportier 200S package, and then for 2013, that special appearance was offered as a package for any of the three trims in sedan form. The Limited model also added Boston Acoustics speakers and 17-inch alloy wheels as standard for 2013.
This mid-size Chrysler had a good record with respect to safety--but it wasn't quite top-tier, as the federal government gave it four stars overall, with four-star scores for frontal impact and three stars for side impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave it top 'good' scores in all areas, earning Top Safety Pick status. And in the new IIHS small overlap frontal test, it performed well enough ('acceptable') to qualify for the new IIHS Top Safety Pick+ accolade.
The 200 convertible could be ordered with a cloth roof or a folding hardtop, but its body rigidity wasn't as good as that of other convertibles. There was considerable body flex, and handling was even less sporty as a result. The back-seat room suffered from the top's packaging, though the 200 Convertible still provided more back-seat room than any other four-seat convertible in its price range.