Chrysler goes after mid-size market with new 200 sedan

In the lucrative and therefore fiercely competitive mid-size sedan market, the Chrysler 200 hasn’t been much of a threat compared to the barnburners between Camry, Accord, Fusion and Altima. But Chrysler has come out swinging with an all-new 200 sedan for 2015.

Presenting what the manufacturer is calling “the new face of Chrysler,” the 2015 200’s front-end integrates the grille and headlamps in what Chrysler says is a Mobius strip-inspired design augmented by a dynamic grille texture, resulting in a 3-D effect.

Sleek but strong and bold new styling from front to back and top to bottom gives the 200 a visual blast of European panache, and it rides on an Alfa Romeo-based chassis. The interior is also thoroughly redesigned with added emphasis on high-quality materials, first-rate fit and finish, practicality, and up-to-the-minute technology.

Proudly touting its Motor City roots, Chrysler has embossed an outline of the Detroit skyline on the rubber mat in the center console pass-through storage space. Klaus Busse, head of interior design at Chrysler, stressed with a smile that the featured skyline is “the old part of Detroit, not the renaissance area.”

The 2015 200 is available in four different versions: the base LX, a more feature-laden Limited, a sportier S, and the premium C. All come standard with a 184-horsepower Tigershark inline four-cylinder engine, the mid-size sedan segment’s first nine-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. Gear selection transpires by way of a rotary dial on the console, and paddle shifters are included on both S models as well as the C model with AWD. Paddles are optional on the front-drive C model.

An optional 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, available only on S and C versions, generates 295 horsepower. S and C models are also available with all-wheel drive, in which case the V6 is standard.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the four-cylinder engine are 23 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. The V6 is rated 19/32 with front-wheel drive and 18/29 with all-wheel drive.

Standard features on the base LX 200 include keyless passive entry for driver door and trunk, halogen headlamps, manual tilt and telescoping steering wheel, Uconnect 3.0 AM/FM, manual six-way adjustable driver and front-passenger seats, 60/40 split rear seat with trunk pass-through, remote USB port, audio jack for mobile devices, four-speaker audio system, electronic stability and traction controls, security alarm and cruise control.

Advanced telematics and infotainment equipment available or standard on the other models includes a six- or nine-speaker audio system, 506-watt amplifier, 5-inch touchscreen display, SiriusXM satellite radio, HD radio, Bluetooth, and GPS navigation with 8.4-inch touchscreen. Uconnect 5.0 AM/FM with Bluetooth and voice command is standard on all but the LX model.

Base pricing for the 2015 Chrysler 200 starts at $21,700 plus destination charge. The car is built at Chrysler’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan and is scheduled to begin arriving at dealerships at the end of this month.

This is a preview of the 2015 Chrysler 200 based on an introductory event held by the manufacturer. Although the vehicle was driven during the event, automotive reviews that include driving impressions and other opinions are written only after a vehicle has been given a weeklong test-drive.

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