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2015 Chrysler 200 from Detroit: Form meeting function will lead segment

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The first of the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 mid-size sedans began arriving in dealerships the week of May 5 and expectations that it may challenge for segment leadership appear to be well grounded as today (May 14) Chrysler reported that orders for the new 2015 Chrysler 200 will likely match the plant capacity through mid-July. Over 17,000 orders were placed for the vehicles in the first two days they were available - with over 10,000 ordered the very first day.

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The 2015 Chrysler 200 is a fully fresh vehicle with no linkage to previous generations that Chrysler says is going to quickly leap to the front of the segment with clean, yet exciting styling, a wide assortment of innovative features and an array of exciting performance capabilities - many exclusive to the segment.

We had the opportunity to drive the new 2015 Chrysler 200 at its media introduction earlier this year in Louisville, Ky. and were, frankly, blown away upon seeing and driving what three-plus years of a major clean sheet design and development approach to this vehicle by Chrysler had delivered. There is so much new, innovative and impressive about the new 2015 Chrysler 200, that we held off writing about it until it was available for drivers to see and experience for themselves.

Just recently we had a second chance to drive the 2015 Chrysler 200 at the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) Roundup at the Texas Motor Speedway - where it impressed our media peers such that they voted it the 2014 Mid-Size Car of Texas.

The clean sheet approach did not just include the new Chrysler 200 vehicle. It also included the Sterling Heights, Mich. assembly plant, where it is produced. The plant underwent a massive $1 billon renovation and upgrade that included (among other improvements) a new leading edge technology paint shop and an advanced full robotic system and related automation installed in the new assembly area to support world class production of the new Chrysler 200.

Interior

The new interior of the Chrysler 200 is a creative blend of clean styling using premium materials and features plus innovative storage and convenient functionality not found in most mid-size sedans. In fact, it is so impressive that it has already (before arrival in showrooms) been recognized with a 2014 Wards Best Interior award.

  • Some of the attributes that earned the 200 the WardsAuto national recognition include the extensive use of premium materials, including wood pore trims that seem to float as they frame the instrument panel and door panels; advanced functional designs that include furniture grade mechanisms for the sliding covers on the center console that features very deep storage enabled by the use of the exclusive rotary transmission shift knob with a Sport Mode which eliminates the bulky shift hardware of a traditional shifter on the console.
  • The glove box is big enough for a laptop or tablet as a result of vertically mounting the in-dash AC unit behind the center stack (also due to the rotary shifter) and there is pass through storage at the front of the console accessible by both driver and passenger with an opening at the rear that enables clean pass through of cables and connectors using the power supply or media center.

Exterior

At first glance, the new 2015 Chrysler 200 four-door sedan looks a lot like a coupe.

  • The coupe look starts with the front with its fluid and cleanly sculpted lines that flow easily from what Chrysler calls the new "face of Chrysler" which integrates grille and headlamps, includes a signature light pipe or (optional) full LED daytime running lamps and fog lamps - all surrounding the new updated Chrysler badge that puts more definition on the wing.
  • The side styling of the new 200 continues the fluid flow with wide doors and glass designed such that one-third of the side view is glass and two-thirds is body panel. The daylight opening trim (DLO) and accents around the glass are black instead of bright which further suggests the coupe look. Standard wheels across models are 17 and 18-inch with 19-inch Hyper Black aluminum wheels available that add to a performance coupe look - in a sedan.
  • The rear of the 200 is broad (almost muscular says Chrysler) but clean and sculpted which produces a subtle spoiler look to the deck lid. It then repeats the signature Chrysler look with the LED taillights and integrated dual exhausts.

Power train and Performance

The 2015 Chrysler 200 really gets out in front of its competition through leading power train capability and performance derived from:

  • The segment-first standard nine-speed automatic transmission that contributes largely to better fuel economy ratings from prior generations as well as improving performance
  • A standard 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir I-4 engine is EPA rated 23/36 mpg City/Highway and 28 mpg combined (FWD models only)
  • The Chrysler 200 FWD with the available best-in-class 295 horsepower Pentastar V-6 engine is EPA rated at 19/32 mpg City/Highway and 23 mpg combined
  • A Disconnecting AWD (a segment exclusive) is an innovative state-of-the-art all-wheel-drive system featuring a fully disconnecting rear axle that automatically operates in front-wheel drive when all-wheel drive is not needed
  • All AWD models with the Pentastar V-6 engine are EPA rated at 18/29 mpg City/Highway and 22 mpg combined

Safety and Technology

The new 2015 Chrysler 200 features segment-exclusive technology which utilizes available sensing elements in the available ultrasonic, radar, camera and other technologies for a 360-degree view of the road. Some of those features include:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, that under certain circumstances and without driver intervention, can bring the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 to a full stop
  • Full-speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus which is a Chrysler Group first that provides autonomous braking and, under certain circumstances, slows or brings the vehicle to a full stop when a frontal collision appears imminent
  • LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus introduces steering-wheel input as well as a warning message in the instrument cluster to alert the driver of inadvertent lane departure and assist with corrective action
  • ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist (also segment exclusive) which uses ultrasonic sensors to guide the driver into parking spaces.
  • A segment-exclusive standard electronic park brake with Safe Hold secures the vehicle if the driver opens the door and unlatches the seat belt while forward or reverse gears are still engaged.

The all-new Chrysler 200 also includes state-of-the-art, high-tech features and amenities including an available 7-inch LED full-color customizable instrument cluster that allows drivers to receive information and feedback in the format they prefer. A glowing bezel surrounding the instrument cluster that gives off a distinctive, pleasing blue glow.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 also features the available award-winning Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen multimedia command center, which depending on the version selected, includes navigation (in 3D), Bluetooth and hands-free capability with SiriusXM Satellite Radio and audio delivered through 9-speakers with subwoofer powered by a 506-watt amplifier system

Trim Levels and Pricing

The 2015 Chrysler 200 has something for everyone beginning with the base front-wheel drive LX model starting at $21,700 - powered by the 2.4L MultiAir 4-cylinder engine. The 2.4L engine is standard across all of the trims in the line with MSRP pricing for those above the LX - Limited ($23,255), S ($24,495) and C ($25,995).

A Wards Best 3.6L V6 engine is optional on the S and the C front-wheel drive (FWD) models and standard on the AWD versions of the S and C.

A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard across all models (and drives) and is included in the base price for each. The AWD system on the S and C (only) has a premium of $2,200 over the FWD. The Pentastar V6 engine on the S and C (only) has a premium of $1,950.

You can get a nicely equipped 2015 Chrysler 200 LX or Limited FWD with the economical 4-cylinder engine including a couple of the optional packages for well under $30,000.

For ourselves, we like the V6 with AWD in the S or C trim levels. Choosing from several accessory packages that really dress this new mid-size out, you can get into what is certainly going to be a segment leading mid-size for a bit over $35,000.

And, if you go for the top-of-the-line C trim level, be sure to add in the Premium Group Package for just $995 - it will knock your socks off.

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