2015 Chrysler 200 Limited Review

Meet the new 200, kinda sorta better than the old 200.

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August 4, 2014

2015 Chrysler 200 Limited Review

The 2015 200 shares a platform with the Dodge Dart, which, while certainly a step up from a Sebring platform, is far from a game-changer, performance-wise.

A step in the right direction.
The previous generation Chrysler 200 is one of those cars that Chrysler would really like you to go ahead and forget about. That's because that 200 was based on the much-reviled Chrysler Sebring, which Chrysler would also like you to go ahead and forget about. The Sebring was the replacement for the LeBaron, Chrysler's longest-running nameplate (Chrysler doesn't care what you think about the LeBaron anymore), and the 200 follows in that line of low-priced sedans.

The 200 suffers from a slight case of what-the-f***-is-it-ism, since it's a car with no particular legacy (the 200 badge was first applied to a hybrid concept car in 2009), but with a name that implies a common ancestry with the 300, although there is none. It's a segment-filler: a car designed to fill a particular market segment for no other reason than every other automaker offers a car in that segment.

The 2015 200 shares a platform with the Dodge Dart, which, while certainly a step up from a Sebring platform, is far from a game-changer, performance-wise.

We drove a fairly bare-bones 200 Limited, featuring the 2.4-liter inline-four (the same engine found in not only the Dart, but the Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Renegade), the bottom-of-the-line Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system, and the various bits called out on the window sticker as 'Customer Preferred Package 28E,' (heated exterior mirrors, back-up camera, heated seats, remote start, and a few other things that, all taken together, seem worth far less than the extra $2,135 they add to the sticker price).

Our tester may have lacked the extra power of the available V-6 or the distractions of the optional panoramic sunroof, larger touch-screen, and superior sound system, but that just meant that what we were left with was just the car itself. And that's when the 'WTF's started to happen.

Outside, the 200 looks, well ... better than the old one. Although the old one at least shared a design accent or two with the 300 &emdash; this one is definitely its own thing.

There's a retro-ness to the post-Fiat Chryslers, including the Dart, that's not really the good kind of retro. Not the kind of retro that makes you think, 'Gee, the past sure was neat,' but the kind that makes you think, 'Oof, I remember when all cars looked like that.'

Aside from Chrysler's new bottom-heavy grille, there are no particular points of style worth mentioning on the 200 exterior.

The interior, while vastly improved over the outgoing model, still feels cheap and poorly assembled (our tester, with only 7,000 miles on it, had several not-completely-snapped-together plastic pieces throughout the cabin). The area in which the touch-screen sits is just a vague shape into which various, non-stylistically consistent, Uconnect systems can be plugged.

Chrysler adds a sorta luxury touch with its knob-based transmission settings, but the plastic piece is embarrassingly cheap feeling, especially given what it controls.

On the road the 200 drives comfortably, but with no discernable personality. Sure, the V-6 would have added more power into the mix, but the 200 doesn't seem at all underpowered with the four-banger, it just feels ungainly.

That sense of imbalance isn't helped by the clumsy 9-speed automatic transmission, which spends its sub-40-mph time doing exactly what you would do if you had to control a 9-speed transmission: stabbing away at various gears to find the perfect one while the car jerks its way up to coasting speed.

Don't get us wrong, the 200 isn't a terrible car. But it's fairly pricey, if you want it with the coolest options, which you do. And considering that it's trying to not only resuscitate a fairly poorly received nameplate, but to compete in the toughest segment in the industry, 'pretty good' isn't nearly good enough.

2015 Chrysler 200 Specs & Prices Engine: 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, front wheel drive

Power Output: 184 hp / 177 lb-ft

Fuel Economy (mpg): 23 city / 36 highway

Price (base): $22,255

Price (as tested): $26,385 (includes $995 destination charge)

Available Features:

Convenience Group: Heated side mirrors, backup camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Comfort Group: Dual-zone climate control, humidity sensor, heated front seats, remote start, auto-dimming rearview mirror.

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