The 2015 Chrysler 200 is the automotive equivalent of a phoenix rising from the ashes.
In 2004, Chrysler's full-size passenger car offerings were the hopeless Concorde and 300M – a pair of ballooned, plastic boats that hadn't garnered attention. Then, miraculously, Chrysler unveiled its new 300, which was derived from the ribs of a Mercedes -Benz E-Class and had the look of a Rolls-Royce with an urban flair. It was nice.
Chrysler may have pulled off the same slight of hand it used back in 2004 with the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200. It no longer has the persona of a last choice rental car, it has appeal and looks like something you'd actually want to drive.
Riding on the remnants Alfa Romeo- the Dodge Dart and Jeep Cherokee, the new 200 features a slightly shorter wheelbase at 108 inches (versus 108.9 in last year's model), yet it's slightly longer and just over an inch wider. So really, the basic DNA of the car isn't changing too much.
The old 200 had a chopped rear end, unwieldy fascia and average looking profile is now just a memory, with this sleek, new sexy look. The new 200 might just be the best-looking vehicle to come from Chrysler since the new Challenger.
The profile is graceful, with a strong character line that runs the length of the car. Gone is its predecessor's awkward C-pillar and trunk lid, and in its place a plunging roofline that adds a real sense of drama to the 200's visuals. The front fascia is wide and stylish, with a small upper grille flanked by a pair of headlights that feature optional LED running lights (light tubes are standard). There are muscular creases on the hood as well, adding cool points on Chrysler's family sedan. In back, full LED taillights are a standard feature.
Chrysler says the 200 was inspired by "classic American designs" like the Apple iPhone, Eames lounge chair and Airstream trailer. It's does appear Chrysler designers took the very best parts of the designs from other automakers and created a grand collage of these attributes in the 200. There's a clear resemblance to the Audi A7. The front fascia has Volkswagen CC overtones, while from the front three-quarters, we can see a bit of Tesla Model S. The 200 is one of Chrysler's most important models (the midsize segment accounts for two million vehicles each year), especially as the new 200 is set to act as inspiration for some of the company's other upcoming designs.
Stylistically, it's much more modern and exciting. The center console, a staple of modern Volvo designs, fits in naturally on the 200, giving the cabin a clear, cockpit-like look. Other writers describe a fun Easter egg like look inside.
For those who need a bit more presence, there's also a Premium Group available for the 200C that adds the heated, two-tone steering wheel you can see in the gallery, as well as stylish real wood trim choices. Those veneer trims, in particular, look quite intriguing, with the bluish-silver wood having an almost metallic appearance.
Chrysler's 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder and venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 will provide satisfying propulsion for the new sedan, with the preliminary estimate of 184 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque at 6,250 and 4,600 rpm, respectively. For those who want a bit more performance in their 200, the 295-hp, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 might be the engine of choice. With 262 lb-ft of torque available at 4,250 rpm (peak horsepower comes in at 6,350) and a redline of 6,400 rpm, the Pentastar should be able to haul the 3,473-pound 200 around without much difficulty.
Fuel economy figures to be at least 35 miles per gallon.
Prices for the 2015 200 start at $21,700 plus $995 destination ($95 less than a comparable 2014) for the base 200 LX, which includes, um, not much. A four-speaker stereo, seventeen-inch steel wheels with wheel covers and a urethane steering wheel (with audio controls) is about all that's worth mentioning. The basic AM/FM stereo can be optioned out with an AM/FM media center that includes Bluetooth connectivity.
Like the current 200, the 2015 model will be built at Chrysler's Sterling Heights, Michigan assembly plant as part of a previous $1 billion investment in the facility. Production models should start to arrive on dealer lots during the second quarter.