Chrysler’s 200 sedan debuted in the spring of 2014 with great hopes. It was following a model that began life as the Sebring under DaimlerChrysler, survived Cerberus Capital’s ownership of its parent, and was significantly and successfully redesigned under Fiat.
But, the current 200 was the first Chrysler mid-size sedan to share architecture with Fiat, employ a 9-speed transmission, and styled to create but a whisper through the wind. And soon, none of this will matter because Chrysler is phasing it out.
Don’t misunderstand; it’s not a bad car. In fact it is quite a beautiful one with respectable handling, stylish interior, and frugal fuel economy. But, crossovers are king and Chrysler needs production space for the Cherokee. So, let’s take one last look at the 200 before it disappears this fall.
Even without glitzy 19-inch wheels or the fancy trim from premium models, our 200 is quite stylish with its pinched nose, broad shoulders, and high streamlined rump – all finessed for fuel-saving aerodynamics. I didn’t initially care for the narrow grille and headlamps that have now migrated to the Pacifica mini-van, but they’re growing on me. Adding LED running lamps helped. From the rear, the car is gorgeous. Gray paint slips by barely noticed.
Even with black cloth seats, but with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the 200 is a pretty nice ride. Lower level models don’t have the large touchscreen or giant LCD display in the instrument cluster, but audio and climate controls are still baby-simple with buttons above and knobs below. Forget navigation, but phones and music players connect via Bluetooth.
Analog gauges have a blue crystal affect that’s very elegant while a fly-bridge center console puts redundant audio/climate controls and rotary gear selector in a pod beneath the dashboard ala Jaguar. Slide the cupholders back to reveal a deep console with pass-through for USB connections. It’s nearly as functional as in Chrysler’s famous minivans.
Step into the throttle and you’ll hear a throaty rumble sent straight from Italy, but when you look under the hood, you’ll notice about eight cylinders missing. You can get a V6 in the 200, but our car came with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder that delivers 184 horsepower and 173 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is routed to the front wheels through a 9-speed automatic transmission. Don’t plan on racing Ferraris, but the powertrain delivers a frugal 23/36-MPG city/highway.
Trading the large diameter wheels for more sensible 17-inch alloys gives up a little in style and handling, but greatly improves ride comfort. Thicker tire sidewalls do a much better job of soaking up potholes and washboard pavement with little noticeable sacrifice in handling. A very European-feeling four-wheel independent suspension keeps the car poised.
I feel like we hardly got to know the 200 and it passes without much of a whisper. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the car; it just came late in the game and was caught in the crossover boom. If you like the way it looks and drives, get one while you can. Or, just buy the wagon version – otherwise known as the Jeep Cherokee.
A base price of $22,115 – $23,705 as-tested – puts the Chrysler 200 against key competitors like the Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy, and Toyota Camry.
2016 Chrysler 200
- Five-passenger, FWD sedan
- Powertrain: 184 hp 2.4-liter I4, 9-spd auto trans
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 17”/17” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Style, MPGs
- Fuel economy: 23/36 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Sterling Heights, MI
- Base/as-tested price: $22,115/23,705