200s vivid blue
Patrick Rall's picture

2015 Chrysler 200S Review: Fun to Drive, Luxurious and Affordable

The Chrysler Group has long been relatively quiet in the crucial American midsized sedan segment but with the 2015 Chrysler 200S – the smallest of the American automakers has car that is good enough in every way to compete with the very best in the massive segment.

If you look at the list of the bestselling cars over each of the past three years, the bestselling car in America with the Toyota Camry followed by the Honda Accord – both of which are midsized sedans. If you look at the top twelve bestselling cars in America, four of the top six are midsized sedans and in total, six of those twelve are in this class. In other words, the midsized sedan segment is a very important one and while you will see models from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet and Hyundai, you wont see anything from the Chrysler Group.

For years now, the Chrysler Group has been without a real competitor in the segment, with both the Dodge Avenger and the closely related Chrysler Sebring-then-200 falling well short of the others in the segment. Although the Avenger and Sebring/200 improved significantly over the last few years of their coexistence, these cars both struggled to compete with the top models in the segment. In a segment once dominated by nothing more than low cost, high fuel efficiency and high reliability, prospective buyers have begun to favor midsized sedans that are sportier, more luxurious and far less vanilla than the midsized sedans of yesteryear – and models like the Ford Fusion, the Toyota Camry and the Hyundai Sonata have been quick to respond to this shift in past years and that has led to sales increases for those models.

However, the Dodge Avenger, the Chrysler Sebring and the early Chrysler 200 all failed to offer the combination of driving excitement, interior luxury, high fuel economy and affordability well enough to make a run at the midsized segment.

200s blue front

With the 2015 Chrysler 200S, the company has a midsized sedan that offers every bit as much fun to drive factor, luxury and fuel economy capabilities as the competition while maintaining a low price –going so far as to include features unavailable from the competition such as a new 9-speed transmission and an advanced all-wheel drive system, both of which make this new 200S more exciting, more efficient and better in every driving situation.

My 2015 Chrysler 200S had a base price of $28,695, which includes the 3.6L Pentastar V6, the 9-speed automatic transmission, sport tuned suspension and a long list of standard amenities. When you add the leather sport seats for $995, the Comfort Group for $795, the Navigation/Sound Group for $1,495, the Premium Lighting Group for $795, the 19 inch black wheels for $695, blind spot/cross path detection for $595 and factor in the $995 destination fee, the price as tested for my 200S was $35,060. This is only a couple hundred dollars more than a loaded Toyota Camry, which has far less power and no all-wheel drive so while my 200S test car is towards the upper end of the affordable midsized sedan segment – it offers more for the same price as the top competition.

The Exterior
The 2015 Chrysler 200S is a sport package and that is very evident from all sides of this sleek midsized sedan, but the sporty appointments come in the form of color changes more than design changes. Overall, the 200S has all of the same lines as the 200C, with the key exceptions being the removal of the chrome bits on the 200C to make room for dark trim on the 200S. This includes a blacked out upper and lower grille, black trim around the side windows, painted door handles and the lower rear fascia. The 200S does have some silver trim on the grille logo, the trunk logo and in the integrated dual exhaust tips out back, which give this midsized sedan a very sporty look while adding just a touch of luxury. The 200S also wears unique 19 inch black wheels.

200s side

While some people might like the silver trim on the more luxurious 200C, but I love the blacked out look of the 2015 Chrysler 200S. The design is fairly understated as sport packages go, but the basic lines found on every new 200 sedan are sleek and sporty enough to make the 200S a great looking sport sedan without even really trying.

When you consider the LED-trimmed projection headlights and the LED taillights, the 2015 Chrysler 200S has a high tech, high end look that has been compared by more than out person to the modern Audi lineup. Being compared to the German luxury car builder is used by some as a slight, but comparing the $35,000 200S to an Audi that costs twice as much shows how far the Chrysler midsized offering has come in the past few years.

The Interior
The 2015 Chrysler 200S cabin follows the upscale trend found throughout the midsized sedan segment and that means that for $35,000, you get one amazing list of features. This might be an affordable midsized sedan, but the interior has a more high tech and high end feel than any Chrysler midsized vehicle has ever offered. The Chrysler Group addressed the upscale shift of the segment in fine fashion, and that has led to one of the best interiors I’ve seen in a Chrysler car of this size or any other competitor with a similar price range.

200s front seats

The first thing that you notice when opening the driver’s door of the 2015 Chrysler 200S are the sport-inspired bucket seats. The seats are wrapped in dark leather with contrasting white stitching and a bright white S on the seat backs. The front seats have deep base and side bolsters to give you a planted feel while hammering the corners, but they aren’t narrow enough bolsters to squeeze larger drivers or front passengers. Also, the padding of the entire seat is comfortable and inviting, while the leather surfaces look and feel great with both front seats being heated, cooler and power controlled. The rear bench isn’t as deep, but you get the same comfortable padding and leather for the rear riders with enough side to side space for three kids or three very friendly adults.

200s rear seats

Most importantly, the Chrysler 200S interior is roomy whether you are seated in the front or back. For a midsized sedan, the 200S has a tremendous amount of space for the driver and front passenger, including plenty of room for elbow and shoulder space that can be at a premium in this segment. Whether you are very tall or very short, you will be comfortable in the front seats of the 200. In the back seats, leg and knee space is a little shorter than the front seats, but the 200 offers enough space to comfortably seat a pair of 6 foot tall adults even when the front seats are moved way back.

20s dash

Finally, the 2015 Chrysler 200S benefits from the stunning UConnect infotainment package that has been so highly rated in other company products. This system features a massive touch screen mounted high on the dash along with a panel of more traditional buttons and knobs mounted on the lower shift console. Along with simple controls for the climate control and the sound system, the rotary shift knob for the 9-speed transmission is found in area mounted just past the end of the driver’s arm when their elbow is planted on the arm rest.

200s gauges

Working in conjunction with the large touch screen is a spread of buttons on the steering wheel, which provide access to the cruise control system, the hands-free phone system and the driver’s information display in the middle of the gorgeous gauge cluster. When you add in push button start, a push button parking brake and the package specific blue interior trim with the long list of gadgets on the dash – the 200S has one of the most modern looking interiors in the segment while also being one of the most comfortable.

The Drive
My 2015 Chrysler 200S was fitted with the option 3.6L Pentastar V6, which funnels 295 horsepower and 262lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission and an advanced all-wheel drive system. This should afford the 200S excellent traction in rough weather, but during my drive time, I only had clear roads to test out the performance of the new Chrysler midsized sedan. In case that sounds like I am complaining, I am not, as the all-wheel drive Chrysler 200S makes great use of every one of those 295 angry horses tucked under the hood.

200s engine

When you launch hard from a stop, the power is put to the ground very efficiently, allowing you to get away from the line with some serious enthusiasm. When combined with the quick shifting and aggressively geared 9-speed automatic transmission, the 200S with the V6 gets up to 60 in a hurry, with the kind of strong, positive shifts that you want from a performance oriented sedan – except this sedan isn’t really designed to be a sport sedan, so you still get all of the comforts that you demand from a daily driven midsize. When you don’t have your right foot buried in the floorboards, the 200S is calm and quiet, with the many shifts happening so subtly that you won’t even notice them. There were concerns that a 9-speed gearbox would be bothersome as it was “always shifting”, but when you leave the 200S in regular automatic shift mode, you will rarely notice a shift under normal driving circumstances.

The same aspects that make the likes of the Toyota Camry so popular are plentiful in the 2015 Chrysler 200S, so you can expect a smooth, comfortable ride and a quiet interior around town and on the highway. When driven gently, the 200S with the V6 and AWD is everything that you want in a daily driver or a cross-country trip and that is true of most of the cars in this segment.

200s road front

However, when you want the feel of a midsized sport sedan, the 2015 Chrysler 200S with the V6 delivers like no other car in this size and price class. The combination of the Pentastar V6, the 9-speed transmission and the advance all-wheel drive system affords the 200S the best acceleration figures from a stop in the segment while also yielding impressive top end capabilities. Of course, you will find that the output of the Pentastar V6 also provides awesome midrange power so as midsized sedans go, you will be hard pressed to find one that offers as much driving excitement as the 200S. Also, while the use of the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters doesn’t really improve performance, the paddles offer very precise control of the gear selections, including a lightning quick downshift that makes blasting along a twisty road even more enjoyable.

Best of all, the 2015 Chrysler 200S isn’t just a big engine in a midsized sedan. The company fitted the “S” package with a unique sport tuned suspension so this model can hit the turns a little harder than the other models in the 200 family. The 200S suspension has been stiffen enough to improve handling and bolster the sport sedan feel, but it isn’t stiff enough to hurt the ride quality, so this is a car that you can enjoy pushing hard around a series of turns while comfortably driving every day to work. The steering provides a connected feel, but it still offers enough assistance to serve as a great option for someone who wants a little sport steering feel without having to fight with the car during the rigors of daily driving.

Finally, while offering the most power and the most engaging drive for the price, the 2015 Chrysler 200S with the V6 engine and AWD still offers strong fuel economy figures. The EPA expects to see 18mpg around town, 29 on the highway and 22 combined. During my time with the 200S, I drove the car harder than will most buyers, and it hurt fuel economy a little – but not much. Over the course of my seat time in the 200S, I averaged 20.9mpg overall, but I also saw better than 30mpg on a 50 mile highway trip with speeds hovering right around 70mph. These numbers aren’t great for a midsized sedan, but they are for a midsized sedan with all-wheel drive, 295 horsepower and a price under $40k.

200s road rear

The 2015 Chrysler 200S does what little midsized sedans can do – combining excellent handling, a smooth ride, strong acceleration and solid fuel economy figures while keeping the price in the same range as the bestselling midsized sedans with no all-wheel drive and far less power.

The Final Word
If you are shopping for a midsized sedan with a powerful V6 engine, a plush interior, a sporty exterior and advanced all-wheel drive, the 2015 Chrysler 200S is your only option in the segment. None of the midsized sedans from Toyota, Ford, Honda, GM, Nissan or Hyundai offer all-wheel drive, with only Subaru offering a similar setup that will help owners conquer the winter weather. However, the Subaru falls short in terms of interior features, so for a midsized sedan with all of the bells and buzzers inside and out – the 200S is by far your best choice in today’s new car market.

200s bleu rear

The 2015 Chrysler 200S with the V6 has more power than any of the competitors in the same general pricing range (excluding the high end and high priced European and Japanese luxury models), the all-wheel drive system affords this sedan incredible traction whether you are trying to get to work in the snow or if you are trying to put all of the power to the road in a hurry for a quick dash from 0-60 and thanks to the 9-speed automatic transmission, this powerful Chrysler still offers very solid fuel economy figures around town and on the highway. Finally, the interior is spacious and incredibly well appointed, coming with many of the features that were once reserved for pricey luxury sedans but in the case of the new Chrysler 200S – you get all of this for just $35,000, making it one of the best bargains in the midsized sedan segment.

I am not in the market for a new midsized sedan right now, but if I were, the 2015 Chrysler 200S would be at the top of my short list. Drive one, check out the interior and I bet that it will move to the top of your list as well.

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