Making its bid for most improved recasting of an existing model, the 2015 Chrysler 200 rolled into the Motor City limelight with a most impressive debut. Completely redesigned, this mid-size sedan represents a dramatic departure from the current car, and one that raises benchmarks in virtually every meaningful area from styling and technology to safety and value.
Most visible clue to the comprehensive rethink of this mid-size sedan is seen its striking bodywork. Chrysler says the overall look of the new 200 was inspired by nature and classic American design elements found in products like Chris Craft boats and Airstream trailers. Whatever the source, the finished product embodies a tastefully interwoven mix of elegant forms, fluid surfaces and intriguing details that's both visually alluring and inherently aerodynamic, generating a best-in-segment 0.27 coefficient of drag.
If that's not enough, the front end treatment of the 2015 200 also marks the first appearance of "the new face of Chrysler." Key elements in this more sculpted 3D form center on a design that integrates the grille and headlights in a manner that reflects the looping design of a Mobius strip, which also influences the appearance of the newly tweaked Chrysler "wing" badge. All versions of the 200 - LX, Limited, premium C and sporty S - come with halogen headlamps and LED taillamps while the S and C can be had with LED fog lamps and running lights. However, only the S variants feature blackout trim bits in place of the bright accents found on other members of the family to impart a more sinister look.
The 200's newfound sense of emotion-driven style carries over to its passenger compartment which also displays a similar organically fluid design sensibility whether trimmed in cloth or leather. Available open-pore formed-wood trim adds upscale character to the clean, user-friendly design that's complemented by loads of soft-touch surfaces as well as the automaker's floating island bezel around a 5-inch or 7-inch reconfigurable TFT gauge cluster. Also notable is a new center console design made possible by the adoption of an e-shift rotary control for activation of the 200's standard 9-speed automatic transmission - more on that later.
A standard 60/40 folding rear seat with a large pass-through opening adds more utility to the 200's decently scaled 14.5 cu ft trunk and every model will come with some variant of the automaker's Uconnect infotainment system. The basic 3.0 version in the LX moves is replaced by a 5.0-spec system with Bluetooth and Voice Command in all other 200s and stepping up to the Navigation and Sound Group offered in all but the LX and Limited moves elevates that to the primo Uconnect iteration with an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
To ensure dynamic character can match its visual pop, the 2015 Chrysler 200 is based on a bespoke version of Chrysler Group's Compact U.S.-wide (CUS-wide) platform, the same versatile modular architecture that also underpins the current Dodge Dart, Fiat 500L and new Jeep Cherokee.
The first mid-size sedan to be spun from this foundation complements unique chassis tuning with a robust and ultra-rigid core structure composed of 60 percent high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel that promises to deliver comfortable but well-controlled handling regardless of trim and superb NVH characteristics. While front drive is standard, the 200 C and 200 S models can be had in all-wheel drive form with a driver-selectable Sport Mode that revises throttle response and shift mapping to facilitate more spirited driving. All S models also feature a tauter sport-spec suspension.
The 2015 Chrysler 200 will offer two naturally aspirated engine choices. Standard motivator is the latest 2.4-liter "Tigershark2" 4-cylinder that makes 184 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque, significantly more of each output unit than the aging 2.4-liter in the current car. Optional is an even more potent version of the present 200's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that will make a class-leading 295 horses and 262 lb-ft of peak twist for 2015. Both are backed by the industry's first 9-speed automatic transmission, an upgrade that helps increase fuel economy on the 2.4-liter by a projected 13 percent and the V6 by roughly seven percent but also can be had with enthusiast-oriented supplemental shifter paddles. Even the all-wheel drive package does its part to enhance the 200's still-in-process mileage numbers thanks to a segment-first ability to automatically and fully decouple the rear axle and driveshaft until needed to reduce parasitic loss. It also features a driver selectable Sport Mode that revises throttle response and shift mapping to facilitate more spirited driving.
Rounding out the new Chrysler 200 goodie list is a selection of class-leading or segment-pacing features highlighted by Full-speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus that offers autonomous braking, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, also with autonomous braking, and LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus that adds automatic steering wheel input to the existing warning message in the display cluster. Other impressive touches include a standard electronic parking brake with Safe Hold that secures the vehicle if a driver opens the door and unlatches their seatbelt while the car is still in a forward or reverse gear and optional ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist.
The 2015 Chrysler 200 goes on sale during the second quarter. While complete pricing will be released closer to its arrival in showrooms, Chrysler has confirmed that the entry level 200 LX will open at $22,695.
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