Press Preview: 2015 Chrysler 200
Odometer (Legend): 529,747
Odometer (ILX): 82,441
Hold your horses y’all – I’ve got a 2,500 mile road trip on tap for this weekend for those of you who are itching for some travel mania. In the meantime, on the heels of my 2014 Honda Accord review, I got a look a car that’s going head-to-head with it in the marketplace. On Wednesday, I got an up-close look at what Chrysler call’s the “new face” of the brand. I was invited to participate in a regional launch event at a boutique resort called Hermosa Inn, located in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The star of the show was a redesigned-for-2014 sedan called the “200.”
The 200 name first debuted at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as a little brother to the flagship 300 sedan. It’s a true world-class car, even selling in Europe under the name Lancia Flavia. Now moving into its fifth model year, the 200 is newly refined and ready to duke it out in the crowded mid-sized sedan segment.
Chrysler has put a lot of effort into making the 200 stand out. The transmission is a 9-speed automatic and the chassis is based on an Alfa Romeo. There are two engine options and an available all-wheel-drive system. Pricing starts at $21,700 but extends all the way to the high $30’s depending on powertrain and equipment selections. That’s why Chrysler considers the 200 not just “a” car but a “family” of cars: 4 unique trim levels with different target markets and corresponding price points. The Sport model with upgraded suspension, wheels, and the V6 motor gets my nod as a top pick.
Mitch, a representative from Chrysler’s engineering team in Michigan, gave us the lowdown on some of the tech specs and what makes this Chrysler so special. Among some of the highlights are a “noise, vibration, & harshness” (NVH) score that’s the best in its segment, an extremely “slick” aerodynamic design (.27 coefficient of drag), and class-leading fuel economy with 36 highway according to the EPA rating.
I drove the 200 S (Sport) model in stunning Vivid Blue and put it through its paces for a 7-mile drive route around Paradise Valley. The V6 has 295 ponies that propel the sedan to speed with nice a nice sense of urgency. The instrument panel’s huge touch-screen is nice, but I liked that there are redundant “manual” controls below it for those of us who like buttons and dials for our climate control. In addition to the analog gauges, there’s a big digital speedometer with complimentary blue lighting around the periphery which I thought was a nice touch. Ride handling was nice – just enough to keep you in tune with the road, yet not completely isolated from it. From a fit & finish perspective, I liked the thickness of the steering wheel and the amount of padding in the soft-touch door panels. Comfort abounds.
This 200 is going to give that Accord a run for its money. The fact that it’s available in AWD is a big +1 in my book. Let’s watch this fight and see what happens. Thanks to the folks at Chrysler for having me over!
Let’s take a look inside.
“Sport” model gets two tone seats with a nice pattern.
Hey, what’s this classic Volvo doing here? Oh, that was spy photographer Brenda Priddy’s new hot rod. There’s a sliver of ILX in the top part of the screen, too.
You probably can’t read the street sign in the below picture from where you’re sitting.
But I had to hit the brakes hard (and they worked great!) when I saw it. Why?
The name of the road, in Spanish, translates to “road without a name”! I’m easily entertained.
Rotary shifter, electronic parking brake are big “firsts” for the 200 in 2015.
This is the AWD model. I’m liking those wheels and the dual chrome exhaust tips.
Interior designers have worked closely with engineers to maximize every available millimeter in the cabin.
“Excessive heat warning.” Welcome to Phoenix!
The back end of the 200 S that I drove.
Scott Brown, Western Region Manager at Chrysler, who made it possible for me to attend. Thanks Scott!
Some of my favorite memories from my younger years were in a Chrysler product. At one point, my mom owned a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. Its 5.2-liter V8 had more torque than I ever knew what to do with. Much like every other car the Hugies ever owned, we couldn’t leave well enough alone. What started out as a standard-issue Limited with a gold push-bar and cheesy chrome mudguards…
… Got lifted and tricked out. My brother was the mastermind behind this project: chrome grille, different fog lights, and removal of everything that was gold to replace it with silver. Nice looking results!
This weekend? Catch me if you can. Nevada + Utah + Idaho + Wyoming + Montana + the ILX.
It’s happening right now. See ya.