DUD ON ARRIVAL
It’s down to an essential core three for Chrysler – their tried-and-true Town and Country, the 300 and this, the all-new 200 midsize sedan. Despite several unique points including a 9-speed automatic transmission and the “Uconnect 8.4” in-dash tech system, the 200 is a disappointment, especially when compared to its handsome, powerful big brother, the 300.
Let’s start with the pluses, though. The 200 comes in four trim levels; LX, Limited, S and my tester, the flagship C. The base LX model is a reasonable $21,700. Our tester’s base price was $25,995 and comes with numerous extras you don’t have to pay more for, like leather upholstery and a six-way power front passenger seat, 17-inch wheels on the FWD model and 18-inch wheels on the AWD model. You’ll also get a healthy 30-or-so miles to the gallon if you opt for the 6-cylinder and even more for the 4-cylinder, naturally.
It also comes with paint, a steering wheel, pedals, a speedometer, accelerator and brakes as standard.
We’re about done now. What’s the first thing anyone notices about any car, before horsepower or price tag?
The way it looks.
Despite the 200’s exterior’s new “face of Chrysler” featuring an integrated grille, headlamps, and standard LED tail lamps, the car didn’t produce one head-spin. A brand spankin’ new ride you lay down your hard-earned dough for better get the attention of someone, even if it’s your mom. Not once during the week’s test did anyone so much as glance at my whip, including me – I couldn’t find it in parking lots because it made so little impression. There is charm both a funny-looking car, like, say, the Pontiac Aztec, and an ultra-luxe ride on folks’ bucket lists. The 200 is the smooth jazz of the auto world – it did not startle, provoke or elicit a response one way or the other, from anyone.
And how does it drive?
There are two engines available. The new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 184 horsepower and 173 lb-ft. of torque is standard on the LX, Limited, and the AWD versions of the S and C. The 3.6-liter V6 engine, with 295 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque, is available as a $1,950 option on the S and C. My 6-cylinder was noisy, not much fun and the paddle shifts didn’t produce any particular ferocity.
Options are expensive and push this ride into the realm of much better-made machines. I can’t see, for example, paying $1,395 for a Navigation and Sound Group when it’s a typically turtle-like experience programming the thing and my iPhone gets ‘er done in 20 seconds. Hey, auto industry – you want to help take texting out of the driving equation? Make your nav systems as fast to program as my iPhone, for a start. That said, the unit worked better than most we’ve tested and it wasn’t hideously ugly.
A blind spot warning system comes packaged with a $1,295 SafetyTec package including adaptive cruise control, frontal collision warning, lane departure warning/keeping assist, automated parking, automatic high-beam control, and rain-sensing wipers. Why do I hate this particular option? Because you should pay attention to whether or not you’re weaving out of your lane, you should control your own high-beams, you should damn well learn to parallel park and I believe I can tell when there are drops of water on my windshield, thanks. The $995 Premium Group fares a little better, including upgraded interior trim, driver memory settings for the seats and side mirrors, a heated two-tone leather steering wheel, and a 115-volt power outlet.
The stand-alone options are the ones worth considering, including 19-inch polished and painted aluminum wheels, a panoramic sunroof, and full leather upholstery with ventilated front seats. Now you’re talking.
Aside from a few good points, however, the 2015 Chrysler 200 is a wheezy, drab must-to-avoid.