Chrysler 200 sedan can hold its own against leaders in the midsize …
On the Road
By G. CHAMBERS WILLIAMS III
The 2016 Chrysler 200 comes with a variety of options, and a choice of a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard on all trim levels. All-wheel drive is optional on V-6 models. After years of creating cars in the most-popular vehicle class that never really connected with consumers perhaps because they weren t very exciting or just had nothing to make them stand out Chrysler now has a midsize sedan that can play with the best of the bunch
Introduced for 2015, newest-generation Chrysler 200 returns for 2016 with a few tweaks, and a special Chrysler 90th Anniversary Edition Limited package that dresses it up even more. Enhancements include more-comfortable front seats, the addition of a rearview-camera on some models, and more connectivity options.
The 90th Anniversary Edition package ($1,995) brings such extras as Chrysler s UConnect 8.4 infotainment setup with integrated voice command, navigation capability, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, satellite radio, special anniversary logos on the 8.4-inch touch screen and special floor mats, anniversary badges, and a power express-open/close sunroof. While it s easy to sing the praises of the big Chrysler sedans the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Charger there s not been much positive to say about the previous generations of the midsize 200 sedan (formerly the Sebring) and its Dodge clone, the Avenger. The Avenger is gone now, and isn t going to be replaced. But the Chrysler 200 is sold in the same showrooms, so the Dodge wasn t really needed. Dodge did keep the Charger and Dart sedans and the Challenger coupe in its lineup, though.
The 200 has some strong competition, including the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Mazda6, Volkswagen Passat, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima among the import brands, and the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Focus and Buick Regal among the Detroit competitors. For 2016, prices for the 200 start at $21,995 (plus $995 freight) for the base LX model. Other trim levels include the Limited ($24,490); S ($25,690) and S All-Wheel-Drive ($29,905); C ($27,570) and C All-Wheel-Drive ($31,785), the top of the line. What s so great about the new Chrysler 200? Everything. The entire car has been carefully crafted and engineered.
But it s also beautiful. Chrysler s designers were given a free hand to create an exterior that sets the 200 apart from the cookie-cutter styling of so many of the stalwarts that have long dominated this class. While both Toyota and Honda have been stepping up their design efforts lately to give the Camry and Accord more curb appeal, especially with such strong design competition from rivals such as the Altima and Focus, the Chrysler 200 is among the nicest-looking vehicles in the class. It s elegant without being ostentatious, looking like a luxury vehicle not from the old-school Detroit, but in the context of a Mercedes, BMW or Infiniti. It looks great inside, as well. Chrysler refers to the car s understated, simple elegance, and touts its craftsmanship, which is in part achieved through the use of high-quality materials throughout.
Performance and technology features help build on the 200 s good looks, though, giving it more than just a great appearance. For instance, it brought the first standard nine-speed automatic transmission to its segment, which allowed it to boast EPA ratings of up to 36 mpg from its base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Also rare in its class is the available all-wheel-drive system, which comes with an automatic-disconnecting rear axle, which helps to improve fuel economy something that almost always suffers with all-wheel drive versus two-wheel drive. There are two engine choices: the standard 2.4-liter MultiAir2 Tigershark inline four-cylinder, with 184 horsepower and 173 foot-pounds of torque; and the optional 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 the same one used in the Charger and a variety of other Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge vehicles, with 295 horsepower and 262 foot-pounds of torque.
With the four-cylinder comes the engine stop-start system, a feature pioneered on hybrid cars. It automatically stops the engine when the car comes to a halt at, say, a traffic signal, and restarts seamlessly when the driver takes his foot off the brake. It saves gas but eliminating idling of the engine while paused in traffic. The car comes with a rotary shifter mounted on the center console just below the heating and air conditioning controls, and right next to the switch for the electronic parking brake.
The 2016 Chrysler 200C Mocha Leather interior adds a touch of elegance to this midsize sedan. A variety of luxury and high-tech safety and infotainment options are offered on the 200. The center console includes a covered charging station for phones and other gadgets, and two usable cupholders. The front bucket seats to be not only well-crafted, but quite comfortable, even for a long interstate trip.
Even the rear-seat passengers can ride in comfort, with plenty of leg- and knee room, especially if only two are riding back there. A drop-down center armrest provides two cupholders for the rear passengers when there is no one riding in the middle. Our tester was the 200C front-drive model, which came with $4,975 in options, which ran the total sticker price to $33,540, including freight. It came with the beautiful Granite Crystal Metallic exterior. We had the optional premium leather-trimmed vent seats in Black/Deep Mocha, part of the Premium Group ($995), which besides leather brought ventilated front seats, luxury door trim panels, a 115-volt power outlet, memory for the external mirrors/driver s seat/radio, heated two-tone steering wheel, and wood and bronze interior accents.
Other add-ons included 19-inch aluminum wheels with a polished face and painted pockets in a Wheel Package ($995), which also brought heavy-duty antilock four-wheel disc brakes. We also had the Navigation and Sound Group ($895) with the UConnect 8.4 navigation system, nine Alpine speakers plus subwoofer, and the premium Alpine audio with a 506-watt amplifier, HD radio, and SiriusXM Traffic/Travel. The Premium Lighting Group ($795) gave us HID headlights with LED daytime running lights and fog lights. We also had LED ambient interior lighting and front-door map-pocket lighting, along with foot-well courtesy lights.
For $1,295 extra, we had the Safety Tec Package, which added adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, full-speed forward collision warning, automatic high beams, blind-spot and rear-cross-path detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, parallel and perpendicular park assist, and rain-sensitive windshield wipers. Upgrading to the V-6 engine costs $1,995, which also brings the heavy-duty antilock four-wheel disc brakes, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and dual exhaust tips. We didn t have the more-powerful engine, but found the four-cylinder to have plenty of pep for our needs.
Handling was crisper and more responsive than I expected it felt more like a Charger than a regular midsize family sedan. We had the Uconnect multimedia command center as part of the navigation/sound upgrade. It helps keep the passengers connected with information such as fuel prices and movie listings. The system is voice-activated for navigation and other features. EPA ratings for the four-cylinder engine are 23 mpg city/36 highway/28 combined. All-wheel drive is not available with the four-cylinder engine.
With the V-6 and front-wheel drive, mileage ratings are 19 city/32 highway/23 combined; with the optional all-wheel drive, they re 18/29/22.
The trunk has 16 cubic feet of cargo space, which is on the high end for the midsize sedan class. A low liftover height at the rear allows for easy loading and unloading.
2016 Chrysler 200
The package: Midsize, four-door, five-passenger, four- or six-cylinder, gasoline-powered, front- or all-wheel-drive sedan.
Highlights: Completely redesigned for 2015, this is Chrysler s compelling new midsize sedan, which comes with a choice of four- or six-cylinder engines and a class-exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission. It s a roomy, comfortable and well-designed car that should compete effectively in this important segment.
Engine: 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder; 3.6-liter V-6 (optional).
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic.
Power/torque: 184 HP./173 foot-pounds (I-4); 295 HP./262 foot-pounds (V-6).
Length: 192.3 inches.
Curb weight (base): 3,473 pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock, all models.
Trunk volume: 16.0 cubic feet.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted, roof-mounted side-curtain for both rows, standard.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Fuel capacity/type: 15.8 gallons/unleaded regular.
EPA fuel economy: 23 mpg city/36 highway/28 combined (I-4); 19/32/23 (V-6, front drive); 18/29/22 (V-6, AWD).
Major competitors: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Volkswagen Passat, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6, Kia Optima, Subaru Legacy, Volvo S60.
Base price range: $21,995-$31,785, plus $995 freight.
Price as tested: $33,540, including freight and options (C model, four-cylinder, front drive).
Prices shown are manufacturer s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Express-News since 2000. Contact him at [email protected]