2015 Chrysler 200

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The American family car came this close to extinction.'15 200 lead

People never stopped buying family cars, of course. They just bought fewer American-brand family cars. Half a million Toyota Camrys find homes in American garages every year. Almost as many Honda Accords. And of course, the Koreans have been making inroads, too.

But now – as the commercials for the car snarkily style it – there’s a new “import” on the block.

From Detroit (via Italy).

The 2015 Chrysler 200.

For the first time in a really long time, the Camry, et al, have serious hometown competition.

WHAT IT IS

The 200 is Chrysler’s mid-sized entrant in the family sedan cage fight. It goes up against perennial Japanese brand favorites like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, as well as house brands such as the Ford Fusion and Chevy Malibu.

Prices begin at $21,700 for a base trim/front-wheel-drive/four-cylinder-powered LX and run to $30,425 for a luxury-trimmed C equipped with all-wheel-drive and a powerful V-6.

WHAT’S NEW'15 200 rearview

Everything. Among the highlights – a graceful new body, swank new interior and nine-speed transmission (three-upping most of its competitors, which typically come with six-speed transmissions).

WHAT’S GOOD

Available with all-wheel-drive, fairly rare in this class.

Available V-6, becoming rare in this class.

Responsive, fuel-sippy –  and standard equipment – nine speed automatic.

Sticker price is lower than competitors and – probably – you’ll be able to negotiate a better deal because Chrysler is hungrier for customers than Toyota, Honda, et al.

It’s a really nice car.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD'15 200 stack detail

A bit less room inside than competitors like Camry and Fusion – especially in the back seat. Legroom is ok, but headroom and shoulder room’s a little tight if you’re a taller person.

Forward Collision Warning system (optional, thankfully) sometimes senses “collisions” that aren’t imminent – such as when you’re pulling up behind another car at a red light. It gets mad if you don’t leave half a car length of space between your car and the car ahead. Or apply the brakes soon enough – as it sees it – even when it’s unnecessary to brake, as you see it.

Chrysler – the brand – still has some rebuilding to do. Resale/depreciation rates may not be as favorable as the “blue chip” brands, especially Toyota and Honda.

UNDER THE HOOD'15 200 engine 1

Like most of the cars in this class, the 200 is available with either of two engines. However, unlike a growing number of cars in this class (including the Ford Fusion and Chevy Malibu), the 200 offers both a four and a six – not just fours.

And neither of them is turbocharged.

The optional V-6 makes its horsepower the old-fashioned way – with more cylinders and more displacement. This is arguably a plus, especially down-the-road repair and maintenance-wise. The increasingly trendy turbo fours one finds in an ever-increasing roster of cars in all classes have a number of advantages (including “on-demand” power and generally very good fuel economy when power is not demanded) but they’re higher stressed (being pressurized), more complex and the long-haul durability of the turbos and related parts is by no means a trivial concern given the potential cost of repairs.

Anyhow, the 200’s optional 3.6 liter V-6 makes tremendous power – 295 hp, substantially more power than the just-updated (2015) Toyota Camry’s optionally available (and carryover) 3.5 liter V-6 (268 hp) and the Chevy Malibu’s and Ford Fusion’s optional turbo fours (259 and 240 hp, respectively). The next closet thing – power-wise – is the Honda Accord V-6 equipped with its optional 3.5 liter, 278 hp V-6. And the V-6 Nissan Altima (270 hp). Both these cars are sportier in terms of steering response and handling (more on that below) but in a straight line, the 3.6 liter equipped 200 gives up nothing to those sport sedans.'15 200 V-6

The 200’s base 2.4 liter four, meanwhile, makes a credible (class-competitive) 184 hp. More than the base-engined Ford Fusion (2.5 liters, 175 hp), Toyota Camry (2.5 liters, 178 hp) and Nissan Altima (2.5 liters, 182 hp); dead heat with the base-engined Accord (2.4 liters, 184 hp).

Another rival, the Mazda6, offers just one engine – a 2.5 liter, 184 hp four. There is no optional upgrade

The Chevy Malibu is the only car in this segment that comes standard with a stronger engine (2.5 liters, 196 hp). But its optional engine – the turbo four described earlier – is a middleweight compared with the heavyweight 3.6 liter V-6 you can order in the 200.

Both 200 engines are paired with nine-speed automatics – a feature no competitor yet offers. Six-speed transmissions are the rule rather than the exception in this class. What’s the advantage? The nine-speed reduces peak engine RPM in each gear during normal acceleration by allowing earlier upshifts to the next forward gear. This is a big fuel efficiency advantage, helping the base 200’s base four earn an EPA rating of 23 city, 36 highway – a notch better than the new Camry manages with its larger (2.5 liter) four: 25 city, 35 highway and significantly bettered only by the Ford Fusion when equipped with its optional hybrid powertrain (44 city, 41 highway).'15 200 x2

The tighter gear spacing of the nine-speed automatic is also a performance advantage. With the V-6, a 200 can hustle to 60 in the high fives – quicker than the former hot rod in this class, the V-6 Accord.

And the V-6 Camry, too.

With the four, 0-60 takes about  8.4 seconds… with front-wheel-drive. Which brings up the matter of all-wheel-drive. The 200 offers it. The Camry, Accord, Mazda6 and Malibu do not. The Ford Fusion is one of the few cars other than the 200 that does. And you can’t get a V-6 in the Fusion anymore.

Perk: Neither the 200’s base four nor its optional V-6 need premium fuel. While most of the competition’s standard engines are economy-minded and set up for regular, their peppier (and typically turbo’d) optional engines often require premium to deliver the best performance and economy.

ON THE ROAD2015 Chrysler 200S

One of the attributes that made Toyota’s Camry the go-to car in this segment for so many years was its gentle nature. It may have been as exciting as a pair of granny panties, but Toyota got away with that for decades because the competition (especially the American competition) simply wasn’t up to snuff in other departments.

Honda’s Accord, meanwhile, picked up the would-be Camry buyers who wanted a car with more personality – but which also had the blue chip rep.

Together, they pretty much owned the segment.

But that’s changing perceptibly as people become aware of excellent domestic-badged alternatives such as the Ford Fusion and Malibu.

And now, the 200.'15 200 road 2

Drive one and you’ll see. It’s got a top-drawer drivetrain. A cushy (but not mushy) ride. It’s really quiet – the fruit of triple seals and acoustically laminated glass. The nine-speed automatic helps, too. Like a high-speed skyscraper elevator, it gets you to your “floor” with minimal drama. The last 2-3 gear changes from six to ninth don’t even seem to happen. You’re just there. Like all modern cars, the 200 has extremely favorable overdrive gearing to maximize fuel economy during steady-state cruising. But unlike all its competitors, the 200’s intermediate gearing is much more tightly grouped. You might think it’d feel (and sound) more busy, due to the increased number of shifts that occur. But in fact, the opposite is true.

The car seems to glide forward, almost like an electric car.

But unlike most electric cars, the 200’s also got a pair.

Six, actually.'15 200 road 5

My test car was a 200 C – with the 295 hp V-6. One day, I rolled up behind a not-very-old Mustang (circa mid-2000s) whose driver was a dawdler. Until I attempted to pass her. Then, she floored it – using every hp under the Mustang’s hood to keep the 200 from edging past. She seemed rather surprised when the 200 not only kept up but pulled ahead-  eventually putting enough distance between me and her that I was able to sidle back over into the right lane… ahead of her now.

There is much to be said for a “family car” with muscle car punch. And the nine-speed automatic is simply superb on this score, too – rabbit punching each shift so rapidly it’s hard to count each one. That’s wide-open throttle. Back off the throttle and the deep gearing on top immediately curbs the revs and 80 feels like 45. Cars like this are way too good for American roads, with their dumbed-down traffic laws mired in the reality of 1975 instead of 2015.'15 200 gear shift

I’m not a huge fan of the rotary gear selector mounted on the attractively angled center stack – but only because I’m suspicious of drive-by-wire controls. There’s no cable connecting your hand to the transmission; your inputs are transmitted electronically. I miss the tactile mechanical feel of pulling the shifter from Park to Drive and the associated physical engagement/disengagement.

Sight lines are good, but the optional Advanced Brake Assist is too peremptory. An unsettling (because out of nowhere and for no good reason) alarm will sometimes erupt –  accompanied by a frantic light show in the gauge cluster – if you don’t drive as though you’re a member of the granny panty set.

Examples: It went off on several occasions when I was pulling up behind another car stopped at a red light – because I didn’t leave what I consider to be absurd air space between myself and the bumper of the car ahead. As in a half car length’s worth. The system also came on several times when it detected a car up ahead slowing to make a left turn. It (the system) has no way of knowing that the turning car will be long gone by the time I get there – hence no need to brake. But I do know – because I’ve got a biological processor (my brain) that works with my eyes to interpret data in ways mere machines can’t.'15 200 road 8

Yet, anyhow.

Now, I want to be clear that I am not picking on Chrysler – because all these systems (in numerous other-brand cars I have tested) are similarly peremptory and – frankly – dumb to some extent at least (see above). Granted, they may save an inattentive driver from wrecking. But I’d prefer that drivers were attentive instead. The good news is the system is optional in the 200, part of the $1,295 SafetyTec package, which also includes Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Automatic High Beam Control, Adaptive Cruise Control with “stop and go” (this is neat, the car can stop itself, then resume your preset speed) and rain-sensing wipers. I’d prefer some of these features were available individually – in particular the rains sensing wipers and adaptive cruise. But Chrysler – like pretty much every other car company – likes to package options, because it’s easier (and more profitable) for them to build (and sell) cars this way.

That said, the 200 is an extremely pleasant car to drive. It’s powerful – and comfortable. Sporty-feeling enough to be fun, but also a four-wheeled sanctum; a place of refuge as you make your way from A to B. It combines the best elements of the Camry and the Accord in an American-brand alternative to both.

AT THE CURB

'15 200 curb 1

This is a tasteful, gracefully proportioned car that could easily pass for “entry luxury” – in the argot of the automotive biz. Park one next to, say, a Lexus ES350 (a Camry in dinner clothes, for those not in the know) and see what I mean. Some of the styling cues may not be hugely original (Audi-esque LED underbrows; Lexus-like trapezoidal exhaust tips blended into a rear air defuser; the ubiquitous BMW knock-off rear quarter glass shape) but good looks look good, no matter where they came from.

To my eye, the 200 looks secure in its skin. Calm. In contrast, the new Camry has been festooned with a huge, seemingly Cylon Centurion-inspired grille that maybe was meant to impart scrappiness but (to me) just comes off as a bit over-the-top for a family sedan.

Good taste is that which is appropriate.

The 200’s designers nailed it.'15 200 interior detail

Now, for the debatable stuff:

The 200’s a less space-efficient car than several of its rivals, including the Camry and Fusion.  Though it’s several inches longer end to end than the Camry (192.3 inches vs. 190.9 for the Toyota) it’s got less interior space, especially in the back seat. Legroom is actually very decent, though less than in rivals. A six-foot-three man (me) will not find his knees rubbing up against the back of the front seat. The 200’s 37.6 inches of legroom is very sufficient, even if slightly less luxurious than in rivals such as the Camry (38.9 inches) and Fusion (38.3 inches). The real problem for the taller set – and this goes for the 200’s rivals, too – is borderline insufficient head clearance. The slope of the roofline (and inward curvature of the roofline) are the culprits. And although the 200 hasn’t got that much less headroom than its rivals – 37.4 inches vs. 37.8 for the Fusion and 38.1 for the Camry – half an inch or so really matters when you’re tall and clearance is already on the tight side.'15 200 back seats

The 200 also has a bit less front seat legroom than rivals – 42.2 inches vs. 44.3 for the Fusion and 41.6 for the Camry – but (trust me, tall guy telling you this) anything more than 40 inches is just theoretical space you’ll only use if you decide to pull over to sleep and decide the push the driver’s seat as far back as it goes.

Trunk space-wise, the 200’s a winner: With 16 cubic feet of capacity – large for the segment – it beats the Camry (15.4 cubic feet) and exactly matches the Fusion (also 16 cubic feet). To get more trunk, you’ll need to buy more car.

THE REST'15 200 dash

The 200’s dashboard is warmly blue-aura backlit, with art deco touches such as “speedometer” and “tachometer” actually spelled out on the brushed nickel trim ring each gauge. There’s a large and partially hidden cubby under the center stack and the cupholders (located behind the rotary knob gear selector) slide aft and out of the way, revealing another large storage cubby.

Other comment-worthy attention-to-detail design touches include the front seat passenger’s very own power point, located on his side of the center console – and the you-can-actually-see-it (and positioned so you can reach it) iPod/USB port. In several cars I’ve driven recently the USB port is tunneled so deep or set so far back that you literally cannot plug in without stopping the car to ferret around back there.'15 200 cupholders

THE BOTTOM LINE

The 200 definitely has the goods to attract buyers. If (time will tell) it proves to be as durable and reliable as the blue chips, it’ll keep them, too.

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33 COMMENTS

  1. I drive 25 to 30k per year and usually get a new ride every 3 years or so. I’ve owned Pinto up to an M3 , Porsch, and an SL55 AMG. I frequently have had a small suv for bad weather use. This time I wanted an “all in one” car at a reasonable price. After much research I chose the 200 and have not been disappointed. There was a $3500 rebate, and with every possible option, it cost $30,000. I wanted a safety-tech package, and In this class,Subaru has the only other complete one. ( if you don’t like one of the actions,you can turn it off and leave the others active.) Subaru’s system is great, but it depends on cameras instead of radar as on the 200, and this may give false warnings in bad weather. Also the 200 has a very luxurious interior with leather and real wood which you can’t find in any other midsize. The 295 hp V6 with AWD and a 9 speed gives fantastic handling ,acceleration as well as economy on regular gas. I drive mostly highways and am getting 27 mpg. I was unable to find any other vehicle with this combination of features for less than twice the price. It’s not perfect, but it seems to be a great buy. I frequently pass cars on to my kids and grand kids, and they would be very lucky to get this one.

    • Hi Henry,

      I was impressed as well; this car is – my opinion – probably FiatChrysler’s best mass market car right now.

      My favorite, though, is the Hellcat!

  2. i am 6 feet tall and 210lbs, with size 12 shoes. i fit very well behind the front seat adjusted for myself. because the rear seat room is less than others does NOT mean it isn’t roomy. my wifes camry is nearly as large inside as my charger. if it was one cubic inch larger than the comp, it would be either the best by a landslide or considered overkill.

    • Hi Brian,

      Individual stature varies. For me, the 200’s back seats were slightly tight. Not uncomfortable. Just a bit tight, head and shoulder-room-wise.

      But, this was one of the very few nits I could pick – which is why I was so impressed by the car. I hope that came across in the review!

  3. Intro to Car Cartel Fuckery 101

    FCAGROUP
    http://www.fcagroup.com/en-US/group/Pages/group_profile.aspx

    FCA operations relating to mass market brands passenger cars, light commercial vehicles and related parts and services are sold in four geographical areas:
    NAFTA (U.S., Canada and Mexico),
    LATAM (South and Central America, excluding Mexico),
    APAC (Asia and Pacific countries) and
    EMEA (Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa).

    Please rise and remove your hardhat and safety goggles and join in the song of your district…

    – Cause I’m proud to be a NAFTAN where at least I know I’m free… God bless the N-A-F-T-A!

    – Cause I’m proud to be a LATAMIAN where at least I know I’m free… God bless the L-A-T-A-M!

    – Cause I’m proud to be an APACKI where at least I know I’m free… God bless the A-P-A-C!

    – Cause I’m proud to be an EMEAN where at least I know I’m free… God bless the E-M-E-A!

  4. There is no longer such a thing as Chrysler. Nor is there a Diamler. There is now only FCA. FCA is the world’s seventh-largest auto maker with 226 thousand employees. The group was established as a Netherlands-based holding company with its global headquarters in London, UK.

    Traded on Borsa Italiana: FCA
    And on NYSE: FCAU

    FCA Financials
    Revenue €87 billion (2013)
    Operating income €1 billion (2013)
    Profit 2 billion (2013)
    Total assets €87 billion (2013)
    Total equity €13 billion (end 2013)

    Major Owners of FCA:
    Exor S.p.A. (30.06%)
    Baillie Gifford & Co. (2.64%)
    Vanguard International Growth Fund (2.26%)
    Norges Bank (2.01%)

    FCA on wiki
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_Chrysler_Automobiles

    Today FCA operates in 4 regions (NAFTA, LATAM, APAC, EMEA), with several brands including Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Ram Trucks, Abarth, Mopar, SRT, Ferrari, Maserati, Comau, Magneti Marelli, and Teksid.

  5. Questions and comments:

    1. Have you heard any reason why so many manufacturers are going for electronic gear selectors rather than mechanical ones? Chrysler has done so here and in the new Ram pickups. BMW and Mercedes both have been doing this for a while. Seems like lots of other manufacturers are headed this way. I don’t see any advantage to it except, perhaps, it permits them to reclaim center console space or steering column space to be used for other things. It seems more likely that it’s just a power grab, literally, in the sense of being able to force the transmission into modes the computer believes it knows best to do (e.g., like the “safety” feature you mentioned in a recent article where you can’t back a car up with the driver’s door open without the trans going into Park). I can’t see it being helpful for fuel economy, and I don’t think it’s a safety feature or a bragging right in any other way. I know a lot of cars in the 50s/60s had push button transmission selectors, but those were still mechanical. Seemed like a gimmick then and even more so now. All we get is a loss of a mechanical connection and feedback for having shifted into Drive or Reverse.

    2. You’re the first reviewer of the Chrysler 200 I’ve come across that has had anything to say praiseworthy of this update. Most other reviewers seem to place it at or near the bottom of the pile, pointing out major flaws in the ride, handling, and transmission. So far, the 9-speed tranny seems to be getting loads of negative feedback from consumers and reviewers alike, and has also been pretty unreliable. I like hearing dissenting opinions. Yet the general consensus is that this is an also-ran.

    3. Reliability, as many others here have mentioned, remains a major question. Chrysler was already bottom of the pile before Mercedes took over, and I can’t imagine merging with an Italian car company will do any better. So far, pretty much all the recent Fiat-Chrysler redesigns have been abysmally bad in this department, and the Fiat 500 has turned out to be horrendously unreliable despite being an established model in Europe. Now I need to qualify this by saying that even a model of average reliability today would have been considered superior 15 or 20 years ago, as the number of reported problems per 100 cars has steadily declined, on average, for decades now (with one recent exception). So reliability is a relative thing, despite my use of the word “horrendously” above.

    4. To my eye, this is a bloated, elephantine version of an already homely car, the Dodge Dart (another failure in the lineup). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to me, the Camry looks modern, fresh, and sporty, and this looks like an early 90s retro move in all the wrong ways.

    More importantly, I think this is endemic to the “new” new Chrysler/Dodge. Few have decent styling (the Charger and Challenger, the Wrangler, and the Grand Cherokee being exceptions), and none of them are competitive with their classes except, perhaps, the Grand Cherokee and, to a lesser degree, Caravan. I’m not sure how much longer Chrysler is meant for this world. It is very reminiscent of the old AMC/Jeep/Eagle debacle of the 1980s.

    Chrysler was on life support well before the bailout, and well before Daimler, and the 300 delayed the inevitable. Then us taxpayers got the privilege of bailing out a “too big to fail” car company that had done everything within its power to screw up. Then Fiat, who was flush with cash from billions of dollars GM had to pay them to terminate a bad contract for GM (which pushed GM further over the bankruptcy cliff), spends more US taxpayer money (funnelled through GM) to buy Chrysler, which was also bailed out with taxpayer money, and continues to release uncompetitive product into the market. My worry is that we’re looking down the barrel of another bailout thanks to politicians buying auto union worker votes and this still-present belief that there is such a thing as “too big to fail.”

    Can you tell I’m still pissed about that?

    • SojournerMoon,

      You have many errors in your post …You said Chrysler was on life support before Daimler took them over….

      FACT, Chrysler was the MOST Profitable Automobile Company in the late 80’s to the late 1990’s..they were making $1 billion a quarter and had $12 billion in cash..

      And Iacocca was ticked after he gave power to Robert Eaton he (Eaton) was the one who sold Chrysler a.k.a “Merger” to Mercedes…I bet Eaton took a load of money as a pay-off to give Chrysler to crappy money losing at the time Mercedes…Then Mercedes starved Chrysler of cash..but Chrysler did pull out some nice rides,now that is not a problem Fiat isn’t starving Chrysler of Cash !!!

      Chrysler’s reliability is down because consumers cant navigate the “Infotainment systems” ….the reliability tests don’t mean the car wont run 140,000 miles with few to no problems (mine never have issues)…

      And about the shifter knob if they don’t really like it,reliability is down,if the infotainment system is confusing,reliabilty is down….nothing to do with engine/trans ect…

      **RAM is the top truck , Wrangler voted 4×4 of the year all the time and wins awards for top off roader by Off Road Magazines all the time..Grand Cherokee most awarded SUV EVER !!

      Cherokee is selling extremely well, and people love them,who own them…Challenger is the best Muscle car…haters bash it and the only negative thing they say is its too big .. well I am 6’2 and don’t think its too big..New for 2015 300 and Charger are stunning !! New Minivans are coming !! But the current ones get good reviews,unless you look at paid off journelists,yes,thats how imports over the years got great reviews..The import companies awarded the journelists great rewards for praising their cars(cant think of it right now but had the link to it)…If the 200 had a Honda or Toyota name on it,they would sell 1,000,000 a year because it really is a great car !!

      The new 200 doesn’t look like a bloated Dart,nothing bloated about the 200 !

      You also said Chrysler continues to release uncompetitive product into the market ????? RAM,GrandCherokee,Cherokee,Wrangler,Charger,Challenger,300,Viper,200,Dart,Minivans-best sellers…Whaaaaaaat !!!!!!!!!!!!! My Lord buddy,you are cant get past the bailout..do you know the U.S also gave Bailout money to IMPORT BRANDS..

      Ford took more money than Chrysler Ford ,Chrysler paid it back,Ford got more money than Chrysler to bring European Ford’s here..new Ford’s are all euro Cars,Vans…lol !!!

      Also Japan always gives money to its car companies,taxpayer money..from Japanese people but same thing as Germany, they give taxpayer money to VW/Audi,BMW,Mercedes all the time….Wake UP !!

      Yes,I hate the fact that Unions support the left,but not all union Workers are left wingers and vote for the left…

      My 2009 SRT Challenger handle the canyons better than most so-called nimble sports cars and I have more power to run them down..60,000 trouble free miles,not my daily ride,so miles are low…My RAM trucks have between 30,000 and 300,000 miles and used in my Business….Had GM/Fords/Toyota’s before and they don’t go the distance without major work done to them.I use the HEMI V-8 in all my trucks and never any major mechanical issues..just routine maint..and I don’t really follow their guidelines ,every 50,000 I change all the fluids,but engine oil at 4500 miles that’s it,and they last..even with heavy loads ect..

      • Hi MRK,

        I dig the 200, too (probably showed in my review!)

        And I see a lot of new Cherokees in my area.

        I much prefer the Challenger over the Camaro – the Chevy being (to me eye) a bloated caricature of the ’69. The Mustang is very appealing (to me) but a horse of a different color. It truly is a pony car (small, nimble) while the Challenger is much more faithful to the original muscle car concept. It is a battleship (which is a compliment!). Huge, massively powerful, thunderous, magnificent. It’s the one I personally would buy if I were in the market.

    • Hi SJ,

      I am pretty sure the reason for the move (across brands) to rotary or toggle or other electronic means of gear selection is two-fold:

      To eliminate variances in feel of engagement from car to car and to speed/ease manufacturing/assembly. It’s easier to plug in harnesses than it is to have a guy set/adjust cables. Also, “tech” is trendy. We live in an iPad culture and people (most people) seem to want gadgets of this type.

      Other reviewers have their opinions – and biases. I call ’em as I see ’em… and I was impressed by the car. (The Subaru Legacy I have right now is a bleak-feeling cheapie compared to the 200.)

      Reliability is definitely a “we’ll have to wait and see” thing. I mentioned that in the review.

      Looks are subjective, but the 200 is objectively smaller in size and tighter in proportion than several others in this class.

      I’m pissed about the bailout, too. But that’s a separate issue…

    • Your memory is deficient:

      “Chrysler was on life support well before the bailout, and well before Daimler”

      Point of fact, in 1998 Chrysler was the most profitable car company in the world and had $8B in cash, which Daimler raided immediately. So, NO, Chrysler was not on life support before Daimler. Daimler ruined a great car company. It has taken this long to come back. But come back it has – all loans paid off early, 56 consecutive months of sales growth, and market share the highest it’s been in 50 years.

  6. Unfortunately, Chrysler lost the ability to design and manufacture automobiles when MB gutted the company. This car is a corporate product from Fiat, just as the previous 200 was a rebadged Mitsubishi. Like all Italian cars I suspect it will not withstand the test of time.

  7. The 2015 Chrysler 200 would be a car I would lease, if only because I’m not so sure about its long-term reliability. I’d have to see how it holds up over the next few years before taking the plunge on buying one. In fact, I’d have to see how Chrysler, or what’s left of it, holds up over the next few years, lest I end up like the poor Saab owners.

    About that rotary gear selector…that looks really cool, but it’d take some getting used to for someone like me who’s used to schlepping a physical lever back and forth to change gears. It reminds me of the pushbuttons in 50s and 60s Mopars…by the way, how did those work? Were they mechanical or electrical?

    • Ah, yes. The old push-button Mopar tranny. Was that a torque-flite, or its predecessor?
      I think the linkage was mechanical, but I’m not sure.

      • Push buttons were available from 1956 through 1964, if I recall. In 1956, smany Mopars came with the 2-speed PowerFlite. The 3speed TorqueFlite came out in 1957. What’s interesting is that the first TorqueFlites were cast iron and you could push start them.

  8. re this: “helping the base 200’s base four earn an EPA rating of 23 city, 36 highway – a notch better than the new Camry manages with its larger (2.5 liter) four: 25 city, 35 highway”

    Unless you drive exclusively on the highway, that is the same or slightly better overall gas mileage for the Camry.

    • Depends on your driving!

      But the relevant point – as I see it – is that the 200’s V-6 is much stronger (and the car’s performance is superior) yet the less-powerful (and less quick) Camry does not offer a mileage advantage.

      • I think the weight of the car comes into play here. If it wasn’t for CAFE, I think the majority of new mid-size sedans would still be powered by V-6’s. The reason why? A V-6 isn’t going to have to work as hard to pull that weight around. A harder working 4 cylinders just can’t over come the physics of a heavier bigger vehicle. In the case of mid size cars and up, a six cylinder is the more “efficient” engine choice all things considered. (Granted if we didn’t have the other regs, that midsize would probably weigh less).

        Case in point. Back in 2001 when buying some fleet vehicles, I was seduced by the low price of an Chrysler Voyager minivan (less then 15k out the door brand new). It has the 2.4 liter four cylinder (the same one as the PT Cruiser), so I thought the higher mileage would be a plus.

        Wrong! Besides being dog slow (even compared with other mopar minivans), the mileage was worse then the other 3 liter V-6 powered Chrysler minivans in the fleet. I think the drivers hammered this van more since it had little get up and go (not that minivans are that fast to begin with). So its mileage sucked.

        But its more then people hammering vehicles they don’t like and don’t own. My neighbor got rid of his Ford Ranger and replaced it with a full size GMC pickup. He claims the mileage of the GMC is better then the much smaller Ranger. This is a guy that babies his vehicles, so he isn’t hammering the gas pedal or anything. In his case the base V-8 in the GMC is the more “efficient” then the 4 cylinder in the Ranger.

        The government only looks at certain things when it comes to “efficiency”. They certainly don’t look at what actually happens out in the real world. In my area, we have mostly empty buses running routes that few people use. Not too efficient in my book, in fact very inefficent. They should be running them with minivans if we must have “public” transit.

  9. Without looking at the logo, it is hard to tell this car apart from others. As Eric said in one of his earlier posts, the distinctive appearance associated with individual brands is gone. They all look the same.

      • eric, I only see about a million vehicles a day(seems like anyway). Damned if I can tell one from the other. I can remember when I could spot of Ford Fairlane/Galaxy or Galaxy or Plymouth Fury just by the way they sat and their profile from literally miles away and tell you too if they were civilian or “porker” models. From the rear I can barely distinguish anything now except for the distinctive tail lights of the Mustang and Charger. From the front I can tell the GM crossovers like the Traverse and the Dodge 300 but for the most part I’m clueless. Oh, and the Caddy’s. At least they are distinctive no matter how you feel about their general looks. Trucks have become the same way ranging from pickups to big rigs. The only big rigs I’m certain of from the side are the old style KW’s and Peterbilt’s. KW(new style) is distinctive from the front view for their particular hood shape. Mostly I see huge amounts of what could be washing machines or any other appliance in many colors.

        Want to disappear in a crowd? Get a white pickup, any brand as long as it’s a full size. Mount a heavy brushguard(black), deer whacker on the front and in this country, you’re indistinguishable from all the rest in front, in back and beside you. Gee, I don’t know occifer, it was a white pickup with a black grill guard.

  10. Like MikePizzo said – Chrysler will have to be good enough, long enough, for me to trust them with my money. So far, the rentals I’ve been in have looked *beat* after only a few thousand miles (broken air vent grilles, general down-at-heels appearance). The one exception is a new 300 — which only had a few hundred miles on it. So too soon to tell.

    Having seen many of the 200s in traffic, the one thing that strikes me is that it isn’t a very wide vehicle. The proportions are more vertical, than horizontal. Much like the new Corolla is.

    One thing I’ve heard about the new 9-speed is that you don’t ever get *into* 9th, until you’ve passed 80mph. Eh, it’s a ZF design, so … Germans. {shrug}

  11. Well, I think it’s very good looking. The driving dynamics you describe are attractive too. But I wouldn’t touch one….yet.

    Here’s the test the 200 will have to pass. Every time (about 5…) I’ve rented one over the last decade, the 200 has been The Worst Vehicle with under 25,000 miles I’ve ever seen.

    Your “really nice” new model would have to survive for at least a couple of years of “rental” driving without deteriorating into a piece of junk.

    Maybe it can and will.

    But that’s not the way I’d bet.

    • Agreed, Mike…

      Chrysler’s biggest problem at this juncture is not design appeal, it is regaining the trust of prospective buyers.

      • eric, regaining? You can’t remember all the indescribable 50’s cars or only for the main part, pictures of 60’s and 70’s Chrysler products. Of the big 3, there are probably many more of that brand around than Ford’s but that’s only due to people having an image of many of them being really fast, something they really were not. Yep, big powerful engines and so damned much weight it took every cube to move them. I knew lots of people with Chargers and Challengers and all the mutations thereof and they sounded like the baddest thing going and some were fairly fast if you would choose the smaller ones but longevity? Forget that.

        Every day I see countless 90’s model GM pickups out there still doing their job but rarely a Dodge that old and never a Ford actually tasked to work. You can knock Gummint Motors all you want but in this land of many old car yards waiting for new owners, nothing is remotely in the numbers of GM and for the last 20 years, nothing even comes close to GM for the cars still on the road. Find me a ’90 Ford anything and I’ll find you a variety of weeds it’s grown. The same for Chrysler only to a worse extent except for their pickups.

        I remember all of us in the 60’s buying new muscle cars. Well, the Ford guys were convinced they were bad to the bone but somehow deigned to take on the GM crowd. The Chrylers guys would take on anybody and quite often be very pissed when they got blown into the weeds by a tiny SBC but at least they ran respectably. I could easily prove to you which cars lasted by driving all over the very arid parts of west Tx. and showing you the lines of old cars waiting to be rebuilt. The only Ford you’ll see will be Mustangs since so many were sold. You will see various Chrysler products and a great many GM’s of various sorts. Hell, I see more Anglia’s than Fairlane’s or Falcon’s.

        A great deal of this might be because of parts interchangeability but most has to do with how the cars rode, drove and held up. I recall riding in a friends less than year old Charger with him banging gears and howling engine and walking the road like a wagon. OTOH, my Malibu drove really well, handled about ten times as well and was QUIET loud exhaust and all. No wind leaks, no water leaks, no door noise or tinny noise(and was so fast he wouldn’t even race me with that big 440). And the big cars with body by Fisher had no equals. I didn’t arrange this, just noticed it over decades. My aunt’s new Ford, no tint on the windows and horrible distortion in the windshield. My dad’s new Chevy, tinted windows, nice a/c, no windshield distortion(this used to be a big thing) and no clacking lifters. You’d have thought they were from different eras or planets for that matter.

        Not many here will remember this but my aunt was so put out her Ford had no tint like the Chevy she bought the infamous blue tint window paint and sprayed it on. Now that stuff was sick and most people spent a lot more effort to get it off or replace the car than applying it. I’d bet a great deal of people on this site have never even seen that sick stuff. They can thank their lucky stars.

        • Eight, regional differences play a huge role. In Texas the number one stolen vehicle is the ford pickup, for instance. Where I am at, if we want to use your metric, the best passenger car of all time is the late 1970s-1985 Oldsmobile 88 and 98. Almost 30 years since GM last built one and I -still- see some in daily service. Why? They were very popular around here. Elwood’s line ‘The new Oldsmobiles are in early this year’ actually had some meaning.

  12. Another computer on 4 wheels that is too expensive and too complicated. The 3-speed Torqueflite in my car has lasted decades with only routine maintenance. How long will that 9-speed tranny last and how much to rebuild it? The interior looks like something out of a killer robot. Is there even a Brougham version?

    • Jason, that would be Bro Ham in these parts. I have friends who always liked the Bro-Hams and would even go to the trouble to rebuild them down to the Bro-Ham details including vinyl. I can’t even see the word without laughing. Reckon there’s an oval window model? On the Bro-Ham naturally.

        • PtB, them Bro-Hams had a small but faithful following as far as the long run went. Hell, they had a large and faithful following as in buying them new. My sister had a Toronado Bro-Ham with a 307. It was as big of a POS as you’d ever want…..or not. Mash that go pedal and it eventually would, stand on the brakes(I’m not kidding, I mean try to break the pedal off) and it would gradually slow and that was when it was brand new. It didn’t get any better. That Caddy was mainly what everybody liked until they came out with that “throw-away” engine and then the luster faded, the sheen was off the rose so to speak. But got-dam man, you could put a trailer hitch on a 510 CI Caddy and have the hogs standing backward in the trailer so they could catch a breath. Seriously, I think they had about a 2-1 rear gear and they’d lay waste to hundreds of west Tx. miles and only stop for gas. I’ve poked their noses into the wind and laid down on the go pedal till it started to open the secondaries and then eased off just enough to keep them closed and doing well into the triple digits.

          Coming back from the east coast we had the cruise on a 98 set above 120(that wasn’t an option for many years)pulling a 14 foot U-Haul tandem axle trailer and running a couple grand of watts on a bi-linear amp powered CB. I was using my old trucking handle and all the truckers on the interstate would be saying “Stay right cause them boys has got a license to fly” and we would and thank everybody along the way. Needless to say it didn’t take long to get from Charlottesville to Texarkana, a bit over half way home. They all appreciated it as we became a front door from heaven. As for us, we just didn’t give a dam. We could talk so far we could lead them over 20 miles or more. Probably the most amazing part was never shredding a trailer tire. We took that as a sign of good karma. I don’t believe it could be done these days on those radial tires. We ruin tires left and right these days in hot weather. I’m gonna take a pic of the load I have on in front of the house and try to post it tomorrow. You’ll see what I mean by putting the pucker factor back into trucking.

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