2014 Chrysler 200 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 18, 2014

The Chrysler 200 offers lots of comfort and value, but looks outdated and lacks refinement.

There's no hiding the fact that the 2014 Chrysler 200 is reaching its expiration date. As we give a final update to this review of the 2014 model as a new car, we're looking over to its dramatically different replacement, the 2015 Chrysler 200 Sedan that's arriving at dealerships. Meanwhile this mid-size sedan and convertible have soldiered on into 2014; and as you might guess, the changes are very minor. Value continues to be the 200's strongest offering, though its handsomely styled interior is a win for some shoppers.

The Chrysler 200 (formerly called the Chrysler Sebring) sedan and convertible were revamped in 2011, and it wasn't a moment too soon. The Sebring had been received poorly, for inexpensive interiors and overwrought sheetmetal, not to mention a general lack of refinement. With the 200, Chrysler corrected course, but only brought its mid-sizer up to par, while so many family sedans had been truly reinvented. And that last rehabilitation only went so far; since 2011, par has changed, with the 200 again looking off-pace.

The silhouette of the Chrysler 200 has a way of tricking you into thinking the cabin is somewhat small for a mid-size sedan--and the combination of the tall dash, wide seats, and narrower glass areas add to that visual trick. Once you climb in you'll be a convert; whether by the numbers or from inside, the 200 stacks up really well against segment leaders like the Hyundai Sonata. Even in back, there's enough space for two adults, or three in a pinch, although the high beltline might require some Dramamine.

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The 200 looks dated on the outside, but it feels up to Volkswagen standards on the inside, and it includes materials and finishes that are a world better than the old hard plastics. Likewise, Chrysler has doubled up on insulation to make the 200's interior a very quiet place (except for the coarse four-cylinder engine's note), and softened the ride.

While handling and ride quality might still not be its forte, the 200's 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and six-speed automatic are a strong, refined combination and the base four-cylinder and six-speed automatic is a tolerable combo. Stay away from the base four-speed automatic in the LX; they're mostly relegated to fleets anyway.

The Chrysler 200 is missing some of the active-safety features now offered in other mid-size sedans, yet it's a safe, secure pick, with top (or near-top) ratings in previous years from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and federal government.

Equipment for the base LX model is generous, but it still doesn't include Bluetooth hands-free calling connectivity. Audio systems come with an auxiliary input jack, but base models also lack a USB input or iPod control. Mid-level Touring sedans offer the V-6 as optional and add automatic climate control, a Homelink garage door opener, a power driver seat, and satellite radio. A sunroof is an option, as is Bluetooth and a DVD/hard-drive audio system with 28GB of storage. At the top of the lineup is the leather-lined Limited model, with options on that include navigation with live traffic and voice commands, plus Boston Acoustics premium sound.

Chrysler has a special "S" package offered on all models, too. It adds 18-inch polished painted wheels, a black finish grille, fog lamp bezels, projector fog lamps, black headlamps, and a black Chrysler badge.

The Chrysler 200 Convertible returns for 2014 as well, offering the same two engines but with somewhat different equipment levels. These models, while a mainstay in rental-car fleets, are reasonably good picks for those who want a convertible on a tight budget and plan to cruise but don't need a vehicle that feels sporty. Back-seat space and trunk space in 200 Convertibles, whether you go for the hardtop or soft-top, are better than in most other drop-tops, but the body itself is subject to lots of flex.

7

2014 Chrysler 200

Styling

An elegant, nicely detailed interior helps counter the odd proportions of the 2014 Chrysler 200 exterior.

Chrysler reworked its Sebring several years ago, for 2011, renamed it the 200, and extended the life of this mid-size sedan by making the look a little more sophisticated, and better detailed. But by now, virtually all of the 200's class rivals have been fully redesigned at least once, and the 200 looks undeniably dated.

We still like the soft, sophisticated look of the grille, and the casual grace of the taillamps, but the 2014 Chrysler 200 betrays its origins by showing the old Sebring's always-awkward side profile and rooflne--something only a true redesign is going to purge (an all-new model is due next year). Otherwise, details are lacking on the outside, with unconvincing details like the plastic '200' badge at the back.

Cabin ambiance remains a big step ahead of how it ever was with the Sebring, but again keeping in mind all the redesigns in this class over the past several years, it's par at best. Tight, low-gloss plastic gives it the right touch, while thin metallic highlights ring the major driver-control areas simply and subtly. An analog clock top and center echoes the shape of the grille, while the dash itself follows a softer look that does somewhat resemble that inside the larger Chrysler 300 sedan. However there are some elements that recall a different era at Chrysler, like the green backlighting for the instrument cluster and the overabundance of black-plastic facing material that attracts fingerprints.

The 2014 Chrysler 200 Convertible remains a rental-car favorite, and while there's nothing quite like it on the market it hardly strikes a fashionable pose. No matter which of the two tops you choose (retractable hardtop or cloth soft top) you'll likely see this as a car that's ungainly in profile with the top up. Fortunately it's more attractive with the top down.

7

2014 Chrysler 200

Performance

The 2014 Chrysler 200 is a confident highway cruiser with the available V-6; but it's far from a sport sedan.

There are essentially two different powertrain flavors of the 2014 Chrysler 200--four-cylinder and V-6--and they couldn't be more different.

While we tend to recommend base four-cylinder versions of other mid-size sedans as perfectly fine for most shoppers, the base 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder in the Chrysler 200 is raspy and raucous, and considerably thirstier than other base fours. The V-6, on the other hand, is smooth and strong, and with 283 horsepower on tap truly does feel like it has a 110-hp advantage.

The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is installed in many different Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep products, ranging from the Jeep Grand Cherokee to the Dodge Challenger and Jeep Wrangler, and here it makes the lighter 200 especially fleet-footed. It's a little thrummy in the middle of its rev range, but its 260 pound-feet of torque is available right where the six-speed automatic transmission keeps revs during relaxed, normal driving.

In general, the six-speed automatic transmissions shift smoothly, especially under full-throttle acceleration, although shifts are lumpier under part throttle. This transmission includes such tall fifth and sixth gears, that if you have mountain grades nearby or do a lot of passing, you'll be dabbing down several gears frequently. There aren't any paddle-shifters, but you can manually select the gears through a manual gate on the shift lever.

We wouldn't call the 2.4-liter gutless--it's actually quite perky for a base engine--but its lack of refinement tosses aside any luxury-sedan pretenses from the cabin look and feel. Its coarse tone has been quieted by more noise blanketing in recent model years, but there's still some bothersome vibrations as well as a flat spot in the middle revs. Just stay away from base LX models, which remain the only ones to come with a four-speed automatic transmission (expect widely spaced gears and jarring downshifts); the four tends to have a flat spot in the middle of the rev range, and while it's not perky with the six-speed automatic either, that transmission works well enough with it.

Compared to nearly every other mid-size sedan on the market, the 200 feels lacking in suspension sophistication, and in this respect it feels more like either a small car made large, or a car engineered a decade earlier. When the road turns curvy and rough, the 200's front end will hop and bound and the tires will lose their grip earlier than you might think.

Specifically, the 200 feels solid and unruffled as long as the road is relatively straight, nice weighting from the hydraulic power steering, and actually some road feel. We prefer the way four-cylinder models handle, as the suspension and front end don't deal well with the V-6's extra torque, which results in quite a bit of torque steer at times and can also leave the front wheels flustered for grip.

As for 2014 Chrysler 200 Convertible models, don't expect anything fun to drive. There's loads of wiggle and shake in the body structure, so you'll want to calm your driving and just cruise. It's no surprise that these are primarily rental cars.
8

2014 Chrysler 200

Comfort & Quality

Seating is tight in the Convertible's back seat, but otherwise the 200 Sedan is spacious, quiet, and comfortable.

The 2014 Chrysler 200 is a mid-sizer by the numbers, but its silhouette has a way of tricking you into thinking the cabin is somewhat small. The tall dash, wide seats, and narrower glass areas all conspire to that visual 'trick'--although once you've been inside you'll find this sedan has more usable space than a number of segment leaders that are even larger on the outside.

Taller drivers will be able to sprawl out, with comfortable front seats--although the door framing makes getting in and out a little tougher, and they lack back support. On the other hand, the back seats In back, it's a different story; the seats are easier than typical to get into, thanks to the tall roofline, and there's enough headroom and legroom for a couple of adults--although the high beltline could feel claustrophobic.

The 200 doesn't handle all that well, so you might think ride quality is soft and absorbent. But that's not altogether true, either; it bounds over pavement irregularities--especially in heavier V-6 versions when cornering. For the most part otherwise, the cabin is a quiet, civilized place, and Chrysler has wedged more sound deadening beneath the floor and by the firewall to help quell most of the road and wind noise. You still get some coarseness and droning from the four-cylinder versions, though.

Seats in the 200 Convertible feel a step flatted and less supportive--perhaps in an effort to save precious interior space in their smaller cabin. In these models back-seat space is very tight for adults, although relative to other convertibles, it's doable. Keep in mind that the snap-up windscreen between the front seats does help quiet turbulence.

Trunk space is one weakness for all versions of the 200; in the sedan, it's several cubic feet smaller than most of the mid-size rivals. As for convertibles, it's respectable bordering on roomy, with enough space for several weekend bags.

7

2014 Chrysler 200

Safety

Safety equipment for the 2014 Chrysler 200 isn't particularly noteworthy, and crash-test ratings are mixed.

The 2014 Chrysler 200 has some mixed results. If you're sizing it up against key rivals; but for the most part its feature set and crash-test ratings are good; yet it's no standout.

Over the past several years, Chrysler has introduced some advanced-tech safety features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection, adaptive headlamps, and collision mitigation in the larger 300; but you won't find any of those features on the smaller 200.

In the new IIHS small overlap frontal test, it performed well enough ('acceptable') to qualify for the new IIHS Top Safety Pick accolade (that's considering its top 'good' ratings in all other categories).

It hasn't done quite as well in federal testing, where the Chrysler 200 was awarded four stars overall, with four-star scores for frontal impact and three stars for side impact.

Rearward visibility tends to be an issue in the sedan, given the thick rear pillars and rather high beltline.

As for the 200 Convertible, it lacks the curtain airbags of the sedan, but it does include all the other safety equipment from the sedan. There aren't any current crash-test results to assess this body style.

7

2014 Chrysler 200

Features

Base LX models of the 2014 Chrysler 200 still lack Bluetooth.

The 2014 Chrysler 200 has become a better value over time, and it offers a set of features that's competitive but certainly not class-leading.

The base 2014 Chrysler 200 LX includes a four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic, but otherwise you end up with a very well-equipped car. Air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, cruise control, a telescoping/tilting steering wheel with audio controls, and an AM/FM/CD player are all included, but surprisingly Bluetooth is an option here. It's now standard on every other mid-size sedan.

With a step up to the Touring model, you add automatic climate control, a Homelink garage door opener, a power driver seat, and satellite radio. A sunroof is an option, as is Bluetooth and a DVD/hard-drive audio system with 28GB of storage. The V-6 is optional on any of these models.

The 2014 Chrysler 200 Convertible has somewhat different equipment; at its base four-cylinder Touring level, it comes with a power-folding fabric roof; the usual power features; a CD player and Sirius satellite radio; and cloth interior. The 200 Limited Convertible includes standard leather seating; a DVD disc player and a 30GB music hard drive; plus 18-inch wheels. Bluetooth with voice command capability, a USB port, and heated seats are among the options.

The Limited model stands at the top of the sedan lineup, and it can be ordered with either powertrain. Here, you get 18-inch wheels and tires, Bluetooth with voice commands for audio and phone, a USB port, leather seating, and heated front seats. A navigation system with live traffic and voice commands is optional, as is a Boston Acoustics premium sound system, while hard-drive storage for audio comes standard. Remote start and heated front seats are available as part of a cold weather group.

Chrysler last year expended the appeal of the sporty 'S' model by offering it as a package rather than a separate trim/model. Add the S package, and you get 18-inch polished painted wheels, a black finish grille, fog lamp bezels, projector fog lamps, black headlamps, and black badging.
7

2014 Chrysler 200

Fuel Economy

The Chrysler 200 is at the back of the mid-size pack with respect to fuel economy.

Four-cylinder versions of the 2014 Chrysler 200 get gas mileage that's surprisingly low. At either 30 or 31 mpg on the highway with the four-cylinder engine, the base engine in the 200 Sedan gets lower mileage than some competing V-6 sedans.

Meanwhile, the V-6 models get 19 mpg city, 29 highway--figures that aren't so bad, yet ones that are far below those of the new Honda Accord V-6, for instance.

Real-world figures have been a bit better, from our experience--especially with the V-6. We saw 24 mpg over about 250 miles of mixed driving in a V-6, while over about 300 miles of mostly gentle highway driving in a four-cylinder Limited sedan with the six-speed automatic, we saw about 27 mpg.

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April 15, 2015
For 2014 Chrysler 200

Excelent handling and acceleration.

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Excellent reliability and power, V-6. This is a S model with the firmer suspension and 18 inch tires.
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