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2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6 vs. Chrysler 200S AWD - Which to buy?

Two newly designed mid-sized sedans at the top of their options list go head to head. Which suits your personality better?
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Toyota recently updated its venerable Camry. The all-new 2015 XSE Camry trim features a new exterior, interior, and other changes. All of these have been almost universally found to be big improvements by reviewers. Most importantly, the XSE V6 is now the top trim Camry and combines the great SE looks with the luxury appointments formerly reserved just for XLE models.

Chrysler has been struggling forever to compete in this segment. However, for 2015 it comes to market with a completely new 200, which competes head to head with the Camry. These two are priced very similarly. A loaded Camry XSE V6 prices out at about $34,000. The Chrysler 200S with AWD and most of the option packages (less the safety suite) comes in at $35,390. Torque News was lucky enough to spend time in both vehicles and we found that both are winners. That said, they have dramatically different personalities. The question is, which would be right for you?

2015 Camry XSE V6
We writers kibitz, gossip, and argue behind the scenes most of every work day. This unseen round-table helps us to sharpen our wit and keep our facts straight. It also reveals our biases. One writer who will go un-named, recently paid the new 2015 Camry a comment. He said “I tested the new Camry XSE, and now I have to find a new car to make fun of.” He was not alone in teasing the past Camry models. Many found the looks common, the ride so-so, and the car to be lacking in passion. No more. The Camry’s new look uses the proven successful front grill and body style that elevated both the Corolla’s and Avalon’s sales. Indeed since the make-over the new Camry’s sales have increased.

Reviewers are having a hard time finding things to make fun of with regard to Camry’s ride too. The XSE has a sportier feel now. This is not a sports sedan. Lexus already has the IS 350 to handle that market. Rather, this is a family car that comes with a ride that goes beyond good. The V6 is also not a rocket, but it is smooth and in a stoplight sprint it will embarrass base model Lexus, Audi, and BMW cars and pretty much every mid-size family car with less than 6-cylinders.

I attended a press introduction for the new Camry line and drove the vehicle then and also drove it at a public event. In both cases, I spent quality time with the XSE trim. There are no bad Camry trims. However, the XSE is a very special car that is not trying to be better than its peers in the mid-size family market. Rather, Toyota is trying to make the Camry XSE better than similar Acura TLX, Audi A4, and Mercedes CLA models costing more. It may very well be.

Inside the new Camry XSE V6 has some big surprises. When I first got in, the perforated synthetic suede seat inserts made me smile. This is a material only the sportiest premium cars used until about last October when the Camry XSE showed up wearing it. The rest of the trim is high-quality leather, so this is not an attempt to shave pennies.

The new infotainment and HVAC controls are just about perfect for those that like things simple. The buttons to make the most popular things work are large, and the driver never has to peck through menus to turn up the heat, change the channel on the audio system, or call up the Nav. The touch-screen is large, clear and it works intuitively. You will synch your phone in about 10 seconds.

The 2015 Camry XSE V6 also offers very good fuel economy. Although it has 268 horsepower, the Camry XSE V6 is rated at 21 mpg city/ 31 highway/and 25 combined using regular unleaded of course. Our price of $34,000 includes all the goodies. At this price one also gets all the optional driver aids like forward collision prevention. One can easily outfit a very nice Camry for under $30K, but not one that will compete with the new Chrysler 200S AWD V6.

Chrysler 200S AWD V6
Like my counterpart above, I used to make fun of the Chrysler 200. Once M&M sold-out and pretended he liked it I felt it was fair game. No more. I first saw the 200 at a press introduction. I could not believe what I was seeing. Here is a great looking car, particularly in its S trim, that simply has the best interior for the money at this price point. Compare this car to an Audi A3 that also costs $36K, and you will be shocked by how much more of everything the Chrysler offers.

My tester had black leather seats with raised stitching that rivaled anything I have ever seen in any Lexus. Heated and also ventilated, these seats belong in a Bentley GT. The center stack is also the best in the business in my opinion. The system is intuitive and easy to use. It’s a bit more modern and flashy than the Toyota Camry’s, which comes danger close to having the look of your grandma’s big-number phone (but doesn’t quite). The steering wheel was heated and felt so good in my hands I never wanted to let it go. What jumps out is that this car has style. And that style is ‘Murican.

The drivetrain of the 200s on paper is also a winner. 295 horsepower and nine forward gears driving all four wheels. That is 75 more hp than the Audi A3’s optional engine. This car moves out when pushed. Interestingly, it is more of a cool-cat cruiser than a sports car. Most of that power stayed unused in my public-road testing.

I knew I was not alone in loving the new look of this car when I came out of a donut shop and found 4 DPW guys ogling the 200S. They were all smiling. They could not believe it was a Chrysler. I got the sense after a couple quick words with them that in some weird way they felt proud. ‘Murican.

The AWD works great when the car is pointed forward, but in ice and snow my tester badly needed winter tires. The huge, beautiful 19 inch alloy rims and low profile tires did not like the slippery stuff. That said, it had no trouble going forward. Shoppers should just be aware that the AWD does not make this car much more of a winter car unless they replace the rubber in fall and spring.

Fuel economy suffered in the 200s due to the optional V6 and AWD. The 200S only rates 18 mpg city/ 29 highway/ and a tough to swallow 22 mpg combined. At least it uses regular unleaded.

Ownership Experience
Toyota is the most reliable non-premium brand. Toyota is also one of the top brands for resale value. Chrysler is still struggling a bit here. However, the Chrysler smells like a leather jacket when you open the door, and it looks like something George Thorogood might sing about. One of these is the safe date. One is trouble, but in a way that is hard to resist.

Conclusion
There is no loser in this comparison. The Camry XSE V6 can easily compete in every way with an Acura TLX costing much more. The Chrysler 200S AWD can easily compete with an Audi costing much more. Each of these cars feels great when driven. The Camry has the edge on the 200S in all things practical. The 200S has an edge when it comes to power, its AWD system and swagger. Whichever you choose your friends and family are going to be impressed, and you are going to enjoy the car immensely.

Related:
2015 Chrysler 200 highlights ways automakers will end sudden acceleration crashes once and for all
Why you can't find the 2015 Toyota Camry's secret to success in most reviews

Main story image by John Goreham


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Comments

I agree. The toyota can compete with the acura. After all, its just a honda anyways. They both have cheap looking (and smelling) interiors. And both of them have been hit with an ugly stick. Unfortunately, Japanese reliability isn't what it used to be. Many of my friends that own them, swear at them, instead of by them now. I have driven the same model Chrysler 200 that you did. I can't believe how nice it was inside and out. 295 HP? I'll take that all day long! Plus it has fluid lines, unlike its Asian counterparts. If I were in the market for a mid size four door...it would be the 200 no question.
Okay there buddy stop with the fanboy rant. Japanese cars dominate the reliable rankings year after year. I've owed many American and Japanese cars and their is no comparison for reliability....Japanese hands down. If you have friends swearing at then they must be old cars. Chrysler is last for reliability and resale. As far as safety is concerned out of 66 Top safety pick awards 37 were Asian, only 13 were American, 16 were European. Personally I think the 200 is ugly. I think the XSE camry is much better looking however, the interior of the 200 is nicer. The XSE was faster and drove better. Reviews on the 200 aren't all that peachy. Also car complaints has registered several complaints on the 200.
If you're trolling here to get a sympathy for your bad taste in cars....forget it. I'm sure there are many ricer forums that would love to hear you Asian POS whatever, never needs gas, oil, and never needs service. Because you know what chump, I've owned a couple of toyotas. Both were garbage. I finally dumped the last one when their fix was taking a sawzall to the gas pedal. If you consider that quality engineering, than I would guess you're wearing a light blue leisure suit with a white belt and shoes, looking for your next sucker to buy or lease an ugly ass turdota from you.
If you need sympathy look it up in the dictionary. It falls between $hit and syphilis just like the crapler 200. Be educated and google issues with American vehicles. They are far worse than the Asians. But I guess FCA is no longer American owned so that should work out well for uneducated fool like you.
If you're trolling here to get a sympathy for your bad taste in cars....forget it. I'm sure there are many ricer forums that would love to hear you Asian POS whatever, never needs gas, oil, and never needs service. Because you know what chump, I've owned a couple of toyotas. Both were garbage. I finally dumped the last one when their fix was taking a sawzall to the gas pedal. If you consider that quality engineering, than I would guess you're wearing a light blue leisure suit with a white belt and shoes, looking for your next sucker to buy or lease an ugly ass turdota from you.
I enjoyed reading your article. I was curious on how the new Camry drove. I didn't care for it at first, but the style has grown on me and I'm finding it very interesting to look at. Now the 200, which I bought a C with v6 a few months ago, I have been enjoying very much. There are a few quirks, but it has been a great car. Surprises me that so many people have stopped me to talk to me about a Chrysler.
Car Complaints shows over 1500 complaints for the Camry. Only 223 for the older 200. GM, Ford and Chrysler have caught up to the reliability of the Asian makers. Unless you really believe every word a few magazines will tell you. For my record, I've owned 2 Hondas, one of them a new Civic EX that after a year of owning it, I traded off because I couldn't take the failing auto trans in it anymore. The Duratec engine and trans in the car that replaced the Civic lasted me 11 years and nearly 200k miles before I traded it. Yea, from my experience the American auto's have caught up in quality. The 200 has achieved the highest safety ratings from both IIHS and NHTSA. Both Camry and 200 are Top Safety pick +, but diving deep into the ratings, you will notice the 200 edges out the 2015 Camry and even the venerable Accord. But it's good that you like the Camry, Toyota needs to sell them. Please feel free to join the herd that is already out there. For the rest of us that like to be a bit different, enjoy the car!
Brother if you’re going to have an argument, at least have facts to back it. Carcomplaint.com only lists 4 years of complaints for the 200. The Camry on the other hand goes back 30 years to 1984. Good try though. There are zero complaints on the 15 Camry and already 27 for the 200. Many complaints about failing transmissions. I never said Asian cars were perfect but google JD power or consumer reports and it clearly shows Chrysler products dead last. I’d post the links but they won’t let me. Consumer Reports has the top four brands in reliability being Japanese then Germany. Again, FCA vehicles dead last. JD power top initial quality vehicles were all foreign with the exception of two. That’s not catching up! As for the top safety picks, go back and review the ratings again. The Camry and Honda all scored good in every category as the 200. The Camry, accord, and 200 all received 5 star overall ratings. Again, stopping reading too far into it. Of all the top safety picks tested, 33 were Japanese, 17 from Germany, and the rest American. There’s lots of negative reviews on the 200. But like me, you had a negative experience with a particular brand and jumped ship. I did the same. After several fords, GMs and one Dodge, I had enough. I don’t blame you for jumping ship based on your experience, most people would. I have no plans on purchasing any of the above listed cars. I am simply pointing out facts that can be confirmed. Enjoy your 200.
Wow, you want to list time periods, but your comparing car complaints of a car that has been out for nearly 8 months to no car complaints for a car that has been out for nearly 8 weeks. Yes, that is a really good educated comparison. Let's all believe everything we read on Google why don't we? Oh no, another person whom only buys from what a few magazines tells him. Wow, had I followed what Consumer Reports tells us is a good car, I and my family would have missed on some great cars. We've owned American, Japanese and even European cars that have lasted us well over 15 years of age. Dude, if I want to read into the specifics on safety, I'm going to dam well do it. Do you honestly sit there and just believe everything your told on the headlines? Wow....and your telling me to get educated by looking up Google???? Wow, wow, wow. But it's good your comfortable with Toyota, I'm not bashing them, but you and so many others need to chill out the fanboy rant, because they are not any better than any other manufacturer out there. Well except at making people believe the hypocrisy.
Oh by the way dude, Car Complaints dot com only shows 10 issues for the 2015 200 with only "1" transmission complaint. Who needs to get their facts straight?
Okay bro you are delusional. When you go to car complaints.com and find the 2015 200 it says 27 complaints, crash tests 1, recalls 2. They include documented NHTSA complaints as well. Drivetrain problems NHTSA has 6 in addition to what CC has. I don't buy cars based on magazinea I pointed out facts. I have Nissan Titan CR bashed it but I love it. You are the one the said the camry has 1500 complaints. I pointed out it was over a 30 year time period. Safety has them all tied but you said Asian cars were junk, so I pointed out that they have the most TSP awards. Anyway, sorry if I offended you. Have a good Christmas.
My 20 years old Camry has over 250k miles on the OD. When it hits 300k few years from now I MIGHT trade it in for another Camry.
My 2004 Dodge Ram has over 450k miles on it. I wouldn't think of trading it in on anything toyota....ever. Toyota sucks
Every Chrysler or Dodge I had was in the shop more than I was driving them. Never had a problem with a Toyota.
Every turdota I've ever seen has had its accelerator pedal sawed off and rusted away within the first 2 years.
I'm in love with the new 200. And yea, some people are hating on it. But those people have top understand that the Toyota Camry has been around for years and Toyota has had the engineering time to get all the kinks fixed with the car. Now with Chrysler, the new 200 is a brand new car in its first model year, as long as you don't count the former 200. The 2015 is a whole new cat from the ground up. So yes, there are going to be some minor problems with the car. But give Chrysler another year to figure out what they need to tune in the car. The new 200 is just as reliable as any toyota. We just have to give them time to figure everything out. Everyone needs to stop hating on Chrysler!
I will let the 200 put a couple of years under it's belt before even considering one. I have owned two Chrysler products in the last while, and both vehicles (A Grande Cherokee, and Intrepid) began to self destruct around the 60,000 km mark. A new drive train noise, and new wind noise would occur just about every time I got inside. Don't even get me started about broken trim pieces etc. And I drove both these vehicles mostly highway miles, which is always easier on a vehicle. You will have a hard time convincing me that Chrysler all of a sudden built an outstanding vehicle overnight that will outshine the quality of Japanese competitors. Incidentally, in a recent survey here by one organization, Chrysler owners rated dead last when asked if they would purchase another Chrysler product. It appears I am not alone in my rattle trap observations on Chrysler quality.