Driving the 200

Here’s the digest. The full treatment is at allpar.

The Chrysler 200 was pretty much “all new” for 2015, though it shares dimensions with the Dart and components with, well, other cars.

head on

What’s funny about our 200S is that, in white, it looked a lot better than the dark red 200C we’d driven. I think it’s the color, not the relatively minor trim changes.

Integration is the name of the styling game, inside and out, and they did a good job of tying things together, compared with other cars.

 

I didn’t think much of Sport mode, though I can see its uses on rare occasions. It keeps the engine revving higher, shifts faster, and optionally shuts off the stability control, along with making controls more precise and biasing the AWD more to rear-drive. The knob shifter is easy to get used to and faster to use than console or column shifts, especially given the clever raised center console (with space underneath). It’s supplemented by convenient paddle shifters. (It’s not written anywhere, but you get out of manual override mode by holding down the right paddle.)

The electric parking brake controller cinches up the “emergency brake,” presumably a safety thing for people who don’t realize the e-brakes need adjustment now and then.

center console

The all wheel drive was a great asset; punch the 295-horsepower V6, and all four wheels grip the pavement and you shoot forward — fast. Perfect launches and stupid-fast lauches around with turns were all too easy. This should be a good snow car, too, but it is a lot of fun to have reliable traction at all times.

The AWD option gives 60% of power to the rear wheels most of the time, going to front wheel drive on its own to save fuel except in Sport mode.

engine

The throttle is fast and precise, maybe too precise. The car is, duh, much faster than the 300/Charger V6 and takes off immediately from any speed, dropping down one or two gears first and then doing it again as needed. (The four cylinder works harder and idles at just under 1,000 rpm while the V6 idles at around 600.) The transmission was fast and well programmed as far as I could tell. It dropped multiple gears if you hit the gas hard, one if you didn’t.

car review

When you’re using the paddle shifters, downshifts during coast-downs become obvious, as the engine matches revs before shifting, which causes the feel of coasting down to change.

Mileage is slightly better than the Chrysler 300 V6 with or without AWD.  Surprisingly low aerodynamic drag ends wind noise, and there is little road noise, even on concrete and rough roads.

 

The Chrysler 200S feels like a small car as you whip it around turns, with hard-to-break traction (tuning may be different for the V6). Seats are moderately comfortable but have enough bolstering to hold people in place, and the ride cushions shocks while staying fairly firm.

Perhaps, with the wide-range automatic and slippery skin, the car can reach the 140 mph on the speedometer. We ended up showing the speedometer on the gauge cluster where you’ll see the gas mileage below.

gas mileage

Our 200S had a fancy trip computer / configurable gauge cluster, which is part of a package in the 200S. One nice thing about this cluster is you can see things like transmission temperature which you could not before.

warning lights

 

All the safety gizmos seem to be available.

The 200’s trunk is quite large. The interior was attractive to my tastes.

front seats

Critics have complained about the entry, and we can confirm that it might be hard for some to get in without bumping their head on the roof, depending on their flexibility and butt-to-top-of-head distance. Once in back, the seats were about as comfortable as the fronts, and headroom was adequate. It was a lot easier to get in and out than the Volvo S40 — front or rear.

We had an optional stereo, which was excellent. It takes USB thumb drives or you can use lo-fi satellite radio. Navigation was easy to use except the tiny street names, and that was with the big screen.  There are lots of snazzy features and settings to change.

The Chrysler 200 starts at $22,695, including destination charge, and the well-equipped AWD version of the 200C starts at $31,190. Our 200S AWD was between those extremes, with a list price of $30,540. With numerous options, ours ran to $35,315 — coming near 300C turf.

 

The 2015 Chrysler 200S harkens back to the days when Chrysler’s cars had superior cornering and firm, well tuned automatics.

The full treatment is at allpar.