2015 Chrysler 200
By Tony Swan
On Sale: Spring 2014
Expected Pricing: Starting at $21,700
When a car's main sales success is with rental fleets it's clearly time for a change, and that's what's on the horizon for Chrysler's mid-size front-wheel-drive sedan. Unveiled at the January 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Chrysler 200 has been redesigned front to rear, top to bottom, inside and out and goes on sale this spring.
All new starts with a redesigned unibody. At 108.0 inches, the wheelbase is fractionally shorter than the current model, but all other dimensions have expanded: length, width, and particularly height (from 54.8 inches to 58.7, providing plentiful headroom front and rear). The 2015 Chrysler 200 thus will stack up as slightly bigger than the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the mid-size segment leaders, and will be one of the roomiest cars in this class.
The new foundations of the 2015 Chrysler 200 trace their origins to Alfa Romeo, the sporty subsidiary of parent company Fiat, and they're wrapped in slick new sheetmetal created by Chrysler design staff. The flowing lines and widened stance lend a hunkered down look that disguises the relatively tall profile, and suggests a sporty persona. The company calls the look the new face of Chrysler, meaning we'll see a variation of the theme in the next generation of the 300 sedan.
Bigger, with more standard equipment and more safety features (Chrysler claims more than 60 new standard and optional features), usually adds up to heavier, and that's true here. The basic curb weight is listed as 3473 pounds, about 70 pounds more than the current Chrysler 200.
But the 2015 Chrysler 200's pace should pick up, thanks to more power from both its engines, augmented by a new transmission. The standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder goes from 173 to 184 horsepower, while output of the optional 3.0-liter V6 climbs from 283 to 295 horsepower. Although neither engine is fed by direct fuel injection, the latest internal combustion efficiency enabler, Chrysler anticipates substantial improvements in economy. Official EPA ratings weren't finalized by Detroit show time, but Chrysler forecasts up to 35 mpg on the highway for the four-cylinder engine, a 5 mpg improvement.
The key element in the fuel efficiency story is the 200's new 9-speed automatic transmission. Shared with the new Jeep Cherokee, it's a first for the mid-size sedan segment, and is controlled by a rotary knob, similar to the system pioneered in the Ram pickup truck.
Another upgrade for the new car will be the availability of all-wheel drive, a first for the Chrysler 200 and not common among mid-size sedans. For example, neither Camry nor Accord offer an all-wheel drive option. On the other hand, the Chrysler 200's powertrain options will not include a diesel or a hybrid.
In addition to its good looks, Chrysler also claims improved rigidity for the new unibody, thanks to the extensive use of high strength steel in its structure, about 60 percent, according to Chrysler. Suspension tuning, MacPherson struts front, multilink rear, twin tube shock absorbers, will tend toward sporty, according to the engineering team, and the electric power rack-and-pinion steering will be quick at 2.7 turns lock to lock.
In addition to exceptional roominess, the new interior will feature upgraded materials with an emphasis on soft touch surfaces, eye-pleasing instrumentation, and of course an expanded array of infotainment and connectivity features, standard and optional. Chrysler also claims that a number of noise-reduction measures will put the new Chrysler 200 in the front rank of mid-size sedans in terms of operational tranquility.
The 2015 Chrysler 200 is expected to begin rolling into Chrysler showrooms spring 2014 as a 2015 model, with a base price of $21,700.