Test Drive: The 2015 Chrysler 200

Chrysler takes another stab at their family sedan. Their previous Sebring model is worth forgetting and the first iteration of the Chrysler 200, which replaced the Sebring, felt as if they were regaining their confidence, unsure if they could compete in this segment. Now, however, they’ve returned with an all-new 200 that appears to be full of attitude and a little bit of swagger.

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First Impressions
The 2015 Chrysler 200 looks like it’s a whole new vehicle. In fact, it might have made sense to completely rename it, because its design is head and shoulders above the previous iteration. Even though I’m not a big fan of the soft lines the flow up from the frontend, its side profile reveals a very tight design that really stands out in a parking lot lined up against the plethora of other family sedans.

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What I Liked
I drove the 200 Limited model, which is the second trim level that starts at $22,895. Adding a few extra amenities isn’t a big expense, though. The Comfort Group package, which includes dual zone climate controls, back-up camera and a heated steering wheels, is $795. And the upgraded UConnect system with larger screen is $800. That’s a great price for a well-equipped sedan.

The nine-speed automatic transmission is mated to a 2.4L engine capable of 184 HP. I spent most of my time driving in the city and this setup worked quite nicely. It wasn’t overbearing and responded adequately when I needed a little extra boost. It’s by no means the most engaging ride, but for its segment it does exactly what’s expected.

Inside they laid everything out exceptionally well. Of course, I’m a big fan of their steering wheel controls. But, the HVAC setup really stood out. Instead of crowding the centre console with everything button, dial and gizmo, they decided to create a separate stack right below it, which contains all of the HVAC controls. It’s a simple detail, but it’s one that made the day-to-day drive, and search for the right button, much more enjoyable.

What I Didn’t Like
Although I know rotary dials to control the gear shifts are becoming a bigger trend these days, I’m still not sold on them. They save space and look cool, but I’m not a big fan on how they function. As I bemoaned when driving the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the muscle memory of quickly shifting from drive to reverse, and back again, has to be relearned using this dial. I’m not a big fan of relearning something that I’ve mastered—and that still works well. Perhaps I’m not changing with the times fast enough…

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Takeaway
The 2015 Chrysler 200 is a huge improvement over the past model and gives Chrysler a family sedan they can actually be proud of. The price point is attractive and it’s well designed. Now, they just have to convince buyers who are also looking at the likes of the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6, Kia Optima … well, you get the point, there’s lots of competition!