2015 Chrysler 200 First Look
Now, A Car Worth Singing About
I am forever connected to the Chrysler 200. I wish my name were connected with a Jeep, or even the coming ‘Cuda. But no, I’m stuck with the 200. But because of this connection, I am very happy to see the 2015 Chrysler 200, transformed from the platform up. This car is worthy of the tag line Imported from Detroit.
If you go back to 2011, it was the Chrysler 200 that was featured in a Super Bowl commercial that put a spotlight on The D. Many people in the city literally cried when they saw that two-minute spot. It perfectly mixed Motor City with Motown. The beat was hard, the visuals gritty, and it was very moving when the choir sang to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” at the end. It was a defining moment.
The only problem: That 200 was an absolutely awful machine destined for rental fleets and deep discounts at dealerships. That car was the white flag of Chrysler’s surrender as it tried to overhaul other vehicles in its fleet. When I called out the carmaker for making a fabulous commercial about a lousy car, my newspaper softened the online version of story after an advertiser complained. So I quit. And there’s the connection.
The next-generation Chrysler 200 that will be displayed at the North American International Auto Show is even better than the original commercial. It’s also better than much of the midsize competition. It takes the best Chrysler has been developing and then breaks new ground. That is how you build a car.
The heart of the new 200 begins with the nine-speed automatic transmission and either the 2.4L Tigershark I-4 or the Pentastar 3.6L V-6. The Tigershark, a Multiair 2 engine, will create 184 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque, which should be plenty of power for this 3473-pound car. The Pentastar’s 295 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque will give customers that much more power. While gas mileage numbers were not released, it should easily push its mileage to at least 35 mpg on the highway and mid-20s for city driving.
The 200 will also feature a number of high-tech devices to enhance the driving experience. There will be selective driving modes, adaptive cruise control, full-speed forward collision warning plus system, a lane departure warning system, and an all-wheel-drive system that can completely disconnect the rear axle from the drive train in order to boost mileage. (This is the same system that debuted on the Jeep Cherokee.)
The 200 debuts Chrysler’s new CUS-wide platform. It provides a much stiffer body, which should make for much better performance and a more comfortable ride.
Chrysler throws a ton of high-tech features at this car. Most -- like blind-spot detection, backup cameras, radar, and even automatic braking if the door is open and the seat belt isn’t latched -- are found on many other cars.
The car keeps its somewhat unsavory silhouette, but it’s leaner and crisper. The rear is slightly lifted for a more wedge-like stance. The exterior features gloss black trim and accent pieces, integrated dual exhaust tips, and 19-inch Hyper Black aluminum wheels. The grille and headlamps are integrated and even the Chrysler winged badge is new. Attention to detail can be found on every inch of the car, whether in the standard light pipe or the LED daytime running lights. This car should look great at night and includes LED taillamps that are as distinctive as the ones found on the Dodge Charger.
But for me, the biggest improvements are inside..
Between the two standard circular gauges, Chrysler uses a 7-inch information display cluster that allows the driver to customize the screen through buttons on the steering wheel. Of course, Chrysler continues with its UConnect infotainment system, which uses an optional 8.4-inch touch screen and a host of features, such as reading text messages aloud. The system can operate by voice commands and includes SiriusXM Travel Link, which can build a weather map on your navigation system, provide movie listings, and even list nearby fuel prices.
Most of all, though, when you sit down in this car, you look around and think, “Wow, this is really nice.” It’s not just nice compared to the previous model; it is nice compared to any midsize car with a starting price around $22,000. There’s craftsmanship throughout the cabin -- the plush leather seats, the rotary gear shifter, the floating center console that provides additional reach through storage (meaning you can put your phone on the lower, out-of-the-way shelf and still run a power cord to it to keep it charged).
This is a thoughtful interior, ergonomically designed with luxury features sprinkled throughout the cabin. There are no harsh chunks of plastic anywhere; instead there is delicate wood trim and door panels that are soft and well-appointed.
The door closes with a heavy thud, reassuring any potential owner that this is Detroit’s finest sheetmetal. (And in fairness, the car is made in metro Detroit, not actually inside city limits, but still, close enough for marketers.)
When I first sat in this car, I couldn’t help but smile. Well-done, Chrysler. Thank you, designers and engineers. This is the Chrysler 200 I have been waiting for, and I hope it performs as well as it looks, because I don’t mind being connected to this nameplate.
It’s a fine machine. To quote that infamous commercial: The Chrysler 200 has arrived.