By Frank S. Washington
LOUISVILLE, Ky., – In a darkened hall with scores of people in front and up on a stage at the Detroit auto show, the 2015 Chrysler 200 looked almost the same as the car it will replace when it goes on sale this spring. Eh, no, not by a long shot.
Here, on the banks of the Ohio River, it was obvious that the new Chrysler 200 looked nothing like the old Chrysler 200.
The car sported what Chrysler called the new face of the brand. A floating grille with integrated headlamps looked like one piece. LED daytime running lights underlined the headlamps and the car had standard LED taillights that gave it a distinctive look coming or going.
Between the lights was a coupe-like sedan with a roof line that ran seamlessly into the trunk lid. The car had sculpted side body panels, a wraparound body line and a high shoulder line. The sideview mirror casings were almost concept car thin but widened at the mirror surface for traditional viewing.
This is an important car for Chrysler; it gives the brand a viable product in the largest segment of the market. Thus, the new Chrysler 200 comes with two engine choices: a 2.4 liter four cylinder that makes 184 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque and a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 296 horsepower and 262 pound feet of torque.
Both engines are mated to 9-speed automatic transmissions. The six-cylinder comes in either all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive while the four-cylinder is available in only four-wheel-drive.
The four-cylinder gets 23 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, while the six-cylinder achieves 19 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
There are four trim lines. The LX starts at $21,700, the Limited starts at $23,255, while the S starts at $24,495 and the C begins at $25,995. A fully equipped top of the line C will sell for about $38,000.
We tested a 200C with the four cylinder engine. This car was smooth, spacious and quiet. It had the feel of premium vehicle; in other words it had substance which only comes with top flight engineering. That probably had much to do with the use of a platform from Alfa Romeo which is owned by Fiat, Chrysler’s parent.
The engine had more than enough oomph, the transmission was smooth, handling was crisp and there was some feedback from the road even though the Chrysler 200 had electric power steering.
We drove a 2015 Chrysler 200S FWD back from lunch. With 111 horsepower more than the four-cylinder, the V6 was a lot quicker. And the Sport’s handling was far more responsive, it turned in quicker and the suspension was tighter.
Either car can be equipped with 17, 18 or 19 inch tires. The larger the tire the better the look and the road feel. We suspect that Mopar, Fiat Chrysler’s customizing arm, has something in that not too distant future planned for the 2015 Chrysler 200.
The interior design was different. It was clean, spacious, uncluttered and it had the ambience of quality and the use of a dial gear selector freed up room to give the car a sliding cupholder in the center console. The center stack angled out between the dash and the console. That was the different look.
Our test vehicle was impressive. It had SafetyTec Package, the Premium Group w/Vent Seats package and the Navigation and Sound Group 1 package and Premium Lighting Group package.
SAFETYTEC had adaptive cruise control capable of bring the car to a complete halt and then starting again, advanced brake assist, blind-spot with cross traffic detection alert, forward collision warning, lane departure warning plus (the car would gently bring itself back into the lane, parallel and perpendicular park assist with stop, rain sensitive windshield wipers and smart beam headlamps.
The Premium Group had a 115-volt auxiliary power outlet, exterior mirrors with memory, a heated two-tone leather steering wheel, luxury door trim panel, premium leather-trimmed ventilated seats (read cooled), radio/driver seat with memory and real wood/bronze chrome interior accents.
The Navigation and Sound Group included a 506-watt amplifier, an 8.4-in. touchscreen display, nine speakers with subwoofer, GPS navigation, HD radio, rear view auto dimming mirror with microphone, SiriusXM Traffic, SiriusXM Travel Link, Uconnect 8.4 inch screen, AM/FM with SiriusXM, HD Radio, Bluetooth, navigation and Uconnect Access, and on the 200S Model there is a premium 7-inch TFT instrument cluster.
Premium Lighting Group included HID headlamps with LED daytime running lamps and LED fog lamps.
The point of listing the test car’s equipment almost verbatim was to say that the 2015 Chrysler FWD we road tested had a base price of $25,995. Add the optional packages and the total came to $32,465. That wasn’t bad.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.