SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Steering a super-slick 2015 Chrysler 200 mid-size 4-door sedan, we're cruising on the I-15 Escondido Freeway as it heads north from San Diego Bay into high-dollar 'burbs of northern San Diego County.
Pitched as a family car with fuel-sipping powertrain choices plus a load of standard equipment aboard and reasonable price points, the 200 iterations for model-year 2015 have been reinvented with a rigid new unibody structure, sensuous new streamlined body skin, an expanded passenger compartment loaded with favored comfort and convenience perks and new engine options scoring impressive fuel economy figures -- up to 36 miles per gallon (mpg) for highway cruising.
Chrysler 200 for 2015 splits into four trim levels with a well-stocked entry-model LX, the luxe Limited, sport-skewed 200S and top-dog 200C.
The '15 200 presents a shapely body that's roly-poly smooth and round with a front hood scored by lines strafing across the top and a raked windshield tipping rearward to enhance aerodynamic efficiency.
A chin-forward prow carries a narrow chrome-rimmed grille with integrated headlamps and LED light pipe accents.
Etched into the forward edge of each front fender, a crisp character line stretches rearward across flank doors until it curls into the tail. And a high beltline pitched parallel to the character line gains a chrome trim piece along the bottom edge of cabin windows.
A tapered tail with flush decklid houses standard corner LED taillamps.
All 2015 200 issues employ a rigid new unibody structure with the chassis engineered to deliver sporty Euro-style handling dynamics yet ride and comfort traits are tuned to smooth out bumpy American roads. Independent suspension components consist of front MacPherson struts with dual-reacting twin-tube shock absorbers and a rear multi-link arrangement also with dual-reacting twin-tube shocks.
Chrysler 200 stocks many active safety systems designed to keep an alert driver out of harm's way by avoiding accidents. The equipment includes a quick-response electric rack and pinion steering system and 4-wheel disc brakes tied to the anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic brake assist (EBA), electronic roll mitigation (ERM) and anti-skid devices via the electronic stability control (ESC) system and all-speed traction control (ASTC).
Further, the 200 for 2015 offers multiple segment-exclusive safety features: Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, Full-speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus, ParkSense Parallel Perpendicular Park Assist, Rear Cross Path Detection, ParkView rear backup camera and Blind Spot Monitoring.
Chrysler offers two engines to propel the 200.
Price-leader 200 LX totes a front-wheel-drive (FWD) 2.4-liter 4-in-line Tigershark MultiAir2 plant with single overhead cam (SOHC). It generates 184 hp at 6250 rpm with 173 lb-ft of torque at 4600 rpm and links to a segment-first electronically controlled 9-speed automatic transaxle.
This powertrain earns the 200's top fuel-burn numbers -- 23 mpg for city driving and 36 mpg for highway cruising.
Optional power upgrade for the FWD 200S and FWD 200C -- but standard issue on all-wheel-drive (AWD) 200S and AWD 200C -- is the Chrysler Pentastar dual overhead cam (DOHC) 3.6-liter aluminum-block V6 mated to a 9-speed electronic automatic. This powertrain still earns keen fuel economy numbers -- 19 mpg city and 32 mpg highway for FWD and 18/29 mpg city/highway for AWD.
Chrysler 200 LX entry-model stocks 17-inch steel wheels with 215/55R17 tires, a keyless entry device, air conditioning, power windows/locks, cloth-clad front seats, front console with sliding armrest, a rear bench for three with folding seatbacks split 60/40, LED ambient interior lighting, rear heat ducts, Bluetooth connectivity and a 4-speaker audio system with AM/FM/CD/MP3/USB.
Chrysler Limited upgrades with alloy wheels and a 6-speaker audio kit, then offers comfort upgrade packages with premium items like dual-zone climate controls, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, rear air conditioning, auto dimming rearview mirror and a remote starter system.
2015 Chrysler 200
MPG: 23 city/36 highway
MSRP: Starting at $21,700
Horsepower: 184 horsepower to 295 horsepower
Curb weight: 3,473 lbs
2015 Chrysler 200 LX
2015 Chrysler 200 Limited
2015 Chrysler 200 S 2.4L
2015 Chrysler 200 S 3.6L V6
2015 Chrysler 200 C 2.4L
2015 Chrysler 200 C 3.6L V6
2015 Chrysler 200 S 3.6L V6 AWD
2015 Chrysler 200 C 3.6L V6 AWD