The all-new 2015 Chrysler 200C is arguably one of the most important launches for the brand as it seeks to build credibility in the hotly contested mid-size car market. The previous 200 (a.k.a. Sebring) was a middling effort that was popular with rental car agencies-primarily for its convertible version.  This new generation Chrysler 200 is far better looking, packed with features and above all, is affordably priced, so it was a natural addition to the long term test fleet to see how it fares over the long haul.

Painted a Vivid Blue Pearl Coat, the 200C has a brilliant color that does justice to its sleek lines. We specified the C model, rather than the sportier S and opted for the standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with the 9-speed ZF automatic transmission, since we believe this car will represent more mainstream tastes in this segment. The base price starts at $26,325 and that includes such standard features as remote keyless entry and start, a backup camera, dual zone climate control, a premium 7-inch center touchscreen, power and heated front seats, tilt-telescope steering and automatic headlamps.

Options galore

We added two major packages, Navigation and Sound Group I, which cost $1,395 and Safety Tec, which lists at $1,295. The former includes a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation, a 9-speaker 508-watt Alpine sound system, 5-year SiriusXM traffic and travel link, HD radio, and floor mats. The Safety Tec package has advanced brake assist with full speed forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, blind spot and cross path alerts, parallel and perpendicular parking assist, automatic high beam control, lane departure warning with lane keep assist and rain sensing automatic windshield wipers. Add HID headlamps and LED fog lights for $795 and tack on $995 destination and our car retails out the door for $30,805, which is less than the average transaction price for a new car these days.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2015

That price represents terrific value. And the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine promises combined EPA fuel economy of 28 mpg with 23 city and 36 highway ratings; although after our first two tanks of unleaded regular, we have seen an overall figure of 25.6 mpg. 

First impressions

The 2015 Chrysler 200C design is impressive inside and out. The exterior is clean and sleek, while the interior features high quality materials, with plenty of soft touch surfaces, comfortable seats and a great center console with additional storage beneath the deck that houses the rotary shift-by-wire knob for the transmission. The controls are logically arrayed and easy to access and the large center touch screen intuitive to operate. The UConnect system is a snap to master for connecting phones and other Bluetooth devices. While the C model is a more elegant take than the sporty S variant, the steering wheel has a thick, grippy rim that would be equally at home in a performance car. Its feel matches the communicative steering, taut ride and general nimbleness of the new 200 package.

While positioned as a midsize car, the quarters however, can be better characterized as "compact plus". The 200C has tidy exterior dimensions and its rakish lines results in a back seat that is more child than adult friendly. Getting in and out you have to watch your head, but once inside, there is a reasonable level of comfort, though others in the category, such as the class leading Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are a bit more generous in their accommodations, especially legroom.

So far, the car has performed flawlessly, although the new 9-speed automatic does take a bit of adjustment-with so many gears, at times it seems it's awfully busy finding the right ratio. And while the suite of safety systems, especially the blind spot warning and backup camera are must haves,  the automatic collision braking (which can be set for distance) can be a bit intrusive in stop and go driving, so I found myself turning it off altogether. Overall, the 2015 Chrysler 200C has the kind of style, equipment and driving spirit that makes it a welcome addition to our long term fleet.

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