The last-generation Chrysler Sebring/200 was the punchline to a bad joke. Whenever you saw one driving around, you could easily assume that it was either a rental car or the person got a smoking deal. Not a good sign when you’re playing in one of the highly-competitive classes in the marketplace; the midsize sedan class. So what do you do? For Chrysler, it was to start with a blank sheet and get some help from Fiat. The result is the 2015 Chrysler 200. So how does new 200 stack up against the midsize class? Well I spent a week in a 200C to find out.
If the exterior is quite the shock, then you might have your mind blown when stepping into the 200’s interior. Chrysler’s designers threw out the book on how to create a midsize interior and went in their own direction. The results are something you might be more used to in a luxury car, not something a midsize sedan. On the 200C, the interior is lined with leather along the dash and seats, and real wood trim. Designers also went for a knob for to select gears which opens up the center console to allow for a massive storage area. You could fit a small laptop computer in this space. Above the large storage space is Chrysler’s UConnect system with an equally large 8.4-inch touchscreen. The system as ever is easy to use and quick to respond.
Space in the 200C is a bit mixed. Front seat passengers are able to find a comfortable position thanks to supportive bucket seats, and power adjustments. On my tester, the seats were ventilated, which only adds to the comfort level. Back seat passengers will find a decent amount of legroom, but headroom is at a premium. Due to the sloping roofline, it cuts the amount of headroom available in the sedan.
Thoughts on Power and Handling are on the next page
As power, you have the choice of either a 2.4L four-cylinder or a 3.6L V6. My tester was equipped with the latter which produces 295 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque and comes paired with a nine-speed automatic. The V6 is a perfect pairing to the 200 as it offers plenty of punch, along the refinement and smoothness the 3.6 has been hailed for. The nine-speed automatic seems to be a bit more in order from the last time I drove it as most of shuddering and not shifting into 9th gear has gone away. I think its a combination of the V6 engine and number of software updates Chrysler has been doing since 200 was launched. But that doesn’t mean all of the woes have been cured. The shift from 2nd to 3rd in my test car were very harsh. I can’t tell you if this was something with my test car or if it appeared in other 200s at this time. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the 200C at 19 City/32 Highway/23 Combined. My week saw an average of 23.3 MPG.
As for ride and handling, the 200C is more aimed at delivering comfort. Driving on some of the worst roads Michigan has to offer, the 200C’s suspension is able soak up imperfections and bumps with no problem. Road and wind noise is kept down, making this a perfect long-distance cruiser. As for sporty driving, the 200C isn’t really suited for it. The suspension does keep body roll mostly in check. Steering is quick but is a little too light for dicing with corners. Those who want a sporting 200 should look at the S model as it features tuning to the suspension to deliver a fun car in the corners.
Calling the 2015 Chrysler 200 a major improvement over the last-generation model would be an understatement. Chrysler has made major strides in erasing the past and bringing in a credible contender with best-in-class interior, smooth performance from the V6, and styling that brings it into the present day. But the nine-speed does spoil the 200 with a harsh 2-3 shift. Chrysler has mostly everything right in 200 to make it a real champ, the nine-speed is holding it back.
Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the 200C, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,350
Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,250
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/32/23
Curb Weight: N/A
Location of Manufacture: Sterling Heights, MI
Base Price: $25,995
As Tested Price: $34,415 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
3.6 Liter V6 24-Valve VVT - $1,950.00
Navigation and Sound Group I - $1,395.00
SafetyTec - $1,295.00
19' x 8' Polished Face w/Painted Pockets Aluminum Wheels - $995.00
Premium Group - $995.00
Premium Lighting Group - $795.00