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First Drive: 2015 Chrysler 200

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2015 Chrysler 200

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Did you know that one in every six vehicles sold in North America is a midsize sedan? It should go without saying then that automakers have to remain very competitive in this segment. Chrysler, while making a presence, has failed to deliver a compelling vehicle consumers have been drawn to. All that is about to change with the 2015 Chrysler 200.

Chrysler recently landed in North Texas with its first regional launch event for the new midsize sedan and while driving time was brief the all-new car did not fail to impress. It is clear the automaker has gotten serious about this segment and while the new 200 may not be a real game changer it should definitely put consumers back into this side of the showroom.

Right from the moment you first see the 2015 200 you think to yourself, “Finally, Chrysler is not launching a car that is destined immediately to the rental fleet lots.” Expect to see quite a few of these new cars in driveways and garages around the country as soon as dealers can get them into stock.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 utilizes the company’s global front-wheel-drive chassis (sourced from Alfa Romeo) that underpins the Dodge Dart and Jeep Cherokee. The 200 is larger than the compact Dart and at launch will not have to compete against a sibling rival as Dodge has no plans to bring an Avenger model to market, at least not any time soon.

Two powertrains will be offered in the new 200 and each is backed by the new nine- (yes, nine) speed automatic transmission with rotary shift knob in front- and all-wheel drive configurations. The pair of engines offered are the global Tigershark MultiAir2 2.4-liter I-4 that delivers 184hp or the 295hp 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6.

Aside from the Pentastar engine (which, by the way, features more power and better fuel economy for 2015) nothing is carried over from the current 200, except for the name of course and even that could have (and perhaps even should have) been replaced. Inside and out, the new sedan features unique modern styling including the new face of the Chrysler brand along with a blend of craftsmanship and amenities sure to make the model competitive in today’s market.

As discovered with the new Dodge Dart, the Alfa-based architecture offers a more “European” feel on the road, meaning the new car offers a sportier driving experience that will not immediately lull you into buyer remorse. The chassis feels well-balanced and is responsive and agile, although we are still talking about a midsize sedan here and not a sport coupe. Be that as it may, the new 200 does not disappoint.

While we could not glean all that we would have hoped for in our short time behind the wheel we enjoyed what time we did have and look forward to the opportunity to spend an entire week with the new kid on the block. From every angle this car looks good and it offers a comfortable driving experience.

Pricing begins at $21,700 for the base LX model. From there consumers can choose what Chrysler says will be the best-selling model, 200 Limited, with a base MSRP of $23,255. Also offered are the 200S and 200C models that diverge into a sporty choice (S, at $24,495) or more luxurious model (C, at $25,995). The V-6 is only offered in S or C trim levels and all-wheel drive is only offered on vehicles with the V-6.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 is built in a completely renovated assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, where the automaker has invested more than $1 billion, proving just how serious it is about the midsize sedan segment and the North American market.

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