2015 Chrysler 200: Redefining the Brand - Carsfera.com

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2015 Chrysler 200: Redefining the Brand

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Hooray for Chrysler! The once proud American brand, now owned by Italian automaker Fiat, is proud again, as the new models they produce are very well done.

When I think of Chrysler, I often hark back to my childhood days, when every car I wanted wore the badge of a Chrysler, or corporate cousins Plymouth and Dodge. Imperial, Charger, Road Runner, GTX, Barracuda and Challenger were some of the performance and luxury icons I coveted. Chrysler was known as the “Engineering” company, and offered full instrumentation on just about all of its cars, and set new performance trends with innovative engines like the legendary HEMI V8.

Over the years, Chrysler, like the other “Big Three” automakers Ford and General Motors, lost their direction and swagger. The Japanese and European brands were now part of the American car buying lexicon, and set the bar super high in terms of luxury, performance and reliability.

The rest is history. Plymouth and Dodge are gone. Chrysler’s “marriage of equals” with Daimler-Benz was hardly that, and Federal assistance and new ownership to save it was on hand.

Well thanks to an infusion of cash and corporate moxie, Chrysler is back, as evidenced by my recent test drive of the terrific 2015 Chrysler 200.

To show the automotive world it meant business when developing the new 200, Chrysler invested $1 billion into the Sterling Heights plant in Michigan, which includes an all new, fully robotic body shop, an environmentally focused paint shop and an upgraded assembly center.

The net result is the $21,700 (excluding destination) 200 LX, which features an impressive level of content. Standard LX gear includes keyless Enter N’ Go push button start; air conditioning with micron filter; electronic gear shifting with rotary e-shift knob; electric power steering; premium cloth bucket seats; full center console with driver/passenger pass through and sliding cup holder; multiple 12 volt outlets in media charging center, which also includes USB charging capability; rear seat armrest with storage/cup holders; 60/40 rear fold down passenger seat with ski pass through; Uconnect radio with four speakers; steering wheel audio controls; power windows with one touch up/down; speed sensitive power door locks; “Eco-Driving” feedback display; LED tail lamps; 17 inch alloy wheels; safety features galore and much more.

Content is king these days, and every brand at every level is trying to keep up with the Korean brands Hyundai and Kia who’ve rewritten the content/dollar ratio by outfitting models at all price points with everything but the proverbial kitchen sink. If you were to stack the Chrysler 200 against the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata, it would do exceptionally well.

Of course, several trim levels and many options are available on the 200, including a trim package that includes an impressive All Wheel-Drive (AWD) system. Trim levels include the aforementioned LX, Limited, S and C. The new 200 shares modified platforms and many components with the Dodge Dart and new Jeep Cherokee.

With that, I spent the bulk of my time driving the roads around Louisville, Kentucky in a gorgeous Vivid Blue Pearl 200C with AWD. The C trim levels get upgraded luxury and performance with a 3.6-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission.

The Blue Pearl paint was a real head turner and garnered the most compliments from automotive media assembled for the national press launch. Good looks aside, most of the buzz was around the stellar fit and finish and strong handling and performance of the 200, even with the 2.4 liter four cylinder “Tigershark MultiAir II” engine. This car is screwed together the right way, and that should show up with improved longevity and reliability over the old Sebring/Avenger based Chrysler 200, which was a less than impressive automobile.

The 200C starts with a base price of $25,995. Prices begin at $30,195 for 200C AWD models. Standard content rises considerably over the base LX model, and includes Nappa leather bucket seats; rear back up camera; Uconnect 5.0 with voice control, Bluetooth, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a free one-year subscription (many manufacturers only offer three months free); seven-inch driver information display; leather wrapped tilt/telescope steering wheel with paddle shifters; power, heated front seats; auto-dimming rearview mirror with microphone; remote start; dual zone climate control; bi-function halogen head lamps with light pipe; 18-inch polished alloy wheels; heated power exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals and dual exhaust tips among many others.

My tester bore a final price of $34,675 which included a $995 Destination Charge and a $1,295 “Safety Tec” Package that featured advanced brake assist, rain sensitive windshield wipers, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, automatic high beam control, full speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, Adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go, Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, and Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist with Stop.

Option Package Two was the $795 Premium Lighting Group with HID head lamps, LED Daytime Running Lamps and LED fog lamps.

The $1,395 Navigation and Sound Group 1 included navigation, an 8.4 inch Uconnect screen upgrade; nine speaker, 506 watt audio system; HD Radio; and Uconnect 1 year subscription.

Each package represents a lot of equipment and technology for the money, with the Safety Tec package a must have for the crazy low price of $1,295. Lane Departure Warning with Assist can cost more than that alone with some manufacturers. And remember this package has the self parking feature. And the Chrysler 200 is the only mid-size sedan to offer perpendicular parking assist.

On the road, the 200 in all trim levels handles well, with the obvious upgrade in handling in all weather with AWD. And to save fuel the AWD system defaults to FWD by disconnecting the rear axle when the car senses AWD is not needed. The car is quiet and very comfortable over long distances, even for tall drivers like myself.

Inside, a gorgeous slab of real wood graces the dashboard and serves as a structural member to support the dash and center console. In fact, the 200 is constructed with 66% hi tensile strength steel. The result is a tight, controlled cabin for enhanced road manners and superb crash safety.

On the safety front, even outside of the optional Safety Tec package, the 200 in all trim levels features high levels of safety. Multi airbags, including driver and front passenger knee-bolster airbags, are part of 60 standard safety features on the new 200.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 in all trim levels represents an outstanding purchase choice. Congrats Chrysler, it’s nice to have you solidly back in the game.

 

Founder, Owner & CEO

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