Chrysler has completely redesigned the 200 midsize sedan for the latest year, transforming it into a legitimate contender in one of the market's most demanding and hotly-contested segments. An efficient nine-speed transmission and high-tech infotainment, convenience and safety features bolster its appeal, but it's the 200's shapely exterior and well-crafted cabin that really set it apart.
Outside, the 200 is distinguished by a rippled hood and sleek headlights that are deftly integrated into a narrow grille. A graceful, coupe-look roofline and integrated decklid spoiler add spice to the rear, as do LED taillights similar to those of the 200's corporate sibling, the Maserati Quattroporte.
There's also Italianate flair to be found inside, where unique design elements blend with numerous technology features to create a modern, upscale environment. The centerpiece of the cabin is a sloping center stack that integrates the climate controls and an unusual rotary shifter in a single, convenient location. Underneath is a pass-through cubby - accessible for both the driver and front passenger - with a rubber mat that depicts the Detroit skyline.
Another clever storage solution comes in the form of center console cupholders that can slide fore and aft to provide either a place for beverages or an odds and ends container. Notably, the console includes USB and AUX inputs with an opening to allow cords to reach electronic devices in the aforementioned pass-through compartment.
In range-topping 200C form, the sedan can be decked out with handsome genuine wood trim, fine leather upholstery and such luxuries as heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control and a self-parking system that steers into a spot while the driver controls the gas, brake and gearshift.
Chrysler's user-friendly Uconnect Access infotainment system is also available. It integrates most of the 200's stereo and navigation (when equipped) functions into one unit. An 8.4-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.
Uconnect Access features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network - for an additional monthly fee - and downloadable applications such as Bing search.
Mid-range models feature a smaller 5.0-inch touchscreen with a simpler version of Uconnect.
Powertrains, Fuel Efficiency
The 200 rides on a lengthened version of the Alfa Romeo-derived platform that underpins the Dodge Dart compact sedan. It is available with the buyer's choice of four- or six-cylinder engines and front- or all-wheel-drive.
The standard motor is a 2.4-liter "Tigershark" four-cylinder that produces 184 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. Those seeking more power can opt for Chrysler's 3.6-liter "Pentastar" V6 with 295 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque.
Both motors shift through the segment's first nine-speed automatic transmission, which offers a wide ratio spread for optimal acceleration and efficiency. Official fuel economy ratings have not yet been released, but Chrysler says that the four-cylinder should be capable of at least 35 mpg on the highway.
Front-wheel-drive is standard on all 200s, while V6 models can be optioned with winter-conquering all-wheel-drive.
Trim Level Breakdown
Chrysler offers the 200 in LX, Limited, 200S and 200C trim levels.
The LX comes standard with A/C, power windows and locks, cloth upholstery, a proximity key, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, ambient LED interior lighting, a four-speaker AM/FM stereo with AUX and USB inputs, Uconnect infotainment system with 3.0-inch display screen, auto on/off headlights, LED taillights and 17-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.
To those features, the Limited adds or substitutes a 5.0-inch touchscreen display and voice command functionality for Uconnect, Bluetooth connectivity, upgraded six-speaker sound system, expanded exterior chrome trim, a compass, and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The Limited can be upgraded with the Convenience Group, which includes a power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated exterior mirrors, sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors and SiriusXM satellite radio.
The 200S brings everything in the Convenience Group plus combination cloth/leather upholstery, sports seats, upgraded interior trim with black chrome accents, a sport-tuned suspension, steering wheel-mounted transmission shift paddles, laminated acoustic front door glass, gloss black exterior trim, dual exhaust tips, fog lights and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
Both the Limited and the 200S are available with the Comfort Group, which brings Comfort Group adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear A/C vents, a humidity sensor and a remote start system.
The range-topping 200C includes the Comfort Group in addition to leather upholstery, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, "highline" door panel trim, a seven-inch instrument panel TFT display, a universal garage door opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a "ride and handling" suspension set up, a rearview camera
The 200S and the 200C can be optioned with the Navigation and Sound I Group and the Premium Lighting Group. The Navigation and Sound I Group adds an 8.4-inch touchscreen display and navigation functionality for Uconnect, a nine-speaker, 506-watt premium sound system, HD radio, SiriusXM Traffic and SiriusXM Travel Link. The Premium Lighting Group includes LED daytime running lights, LED foglights and HID headlights.
Exclusive to the 200C are the Premium Group and Safety Tech Group. The Premium Group nets premium leather upholstery, real wood and bronze chrome interior accents, ventilated front seats, a heated two-tone leather steering wheel, radio, driver's seat and HVAC memory, and a 115-volt power outlet. The Safety Tech Group adds adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning system with advanced brake assist, blind spot and cross path detection, lane departure warning plus, parallel and perpendicular assist, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic high beams.
All 200 models are fitted with dual front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control.
The 200C trim level can be made safer still with the optional Safety Tech Group, which brings a forward collision warning system that alerts the driver to impending crashes and can apply the brakes to prevent or mitigate the impact; a blind spot warning system with a cross path detection system that warns the driver of approaching traffic in back-up situations; and a lane departure warning plus system that provides an alert if the 200 begins to wander into an adjacent lane and can actually steer the sedan back onto the proper course.
The 200 midsize sedan goes head-to-head with some of the best-rounded and most popular models on the market. These include the refined, efficient Honda Accord; the stylish and tech-packed Ford Fusion; the curvaceous, fuel-thrifty and fun-to-drive Mazda Mazda6; and the sensible Chevrolet Malibu.