Finally Class Competitive
Last year, American consumers bought almost 2.4 million midsize family sedans. Chrysler only held a small percentage of that lucrative market and rightfully so, given that the last generation of its midsize sedan, the 200, was (diplomatically speaking) not class competitive. With the market much too big to ignore, Chrysler went back to the drawing board, resulting in the all-new 2015 200. We’ve already tested the base front-drive version, so we figured it was about time we put the V-6-powered and sport-oriented 2015 Chrysler 200S AWD to the test.
Seeing as how the 200 has been on the road for almost a year now, most of you are probably already pretty familiar with the 2015 200. A 2.4-liter I-4 making 184 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque is standard on the 200, while a 3.6-liter V-6 producing 295 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque is optional. Each 200S, like our tester, comes with the V-6. A segment-first, nine-speed automatic is standard across the board, as is front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive, found on our 200S tester, is an available extra, making the 200 one of three midsize sedans to offer the extra pair of driven wheels. The 200S, designed to appeal to younger buyers, also includes a specially tuned sport suspension, a unique wheel and tire package, and a sport mode on the transmission.
The Chrysler 200 is a 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year contender – find out in November whether it has what it takes to win.
Those extra sport goodies help put the 2015 Chrysler 200S AWD ahead of its chief rivals, the Ford Fusion and Subaru Legacy, at the track. The 200S accelerates from 0-60 mph in a respectable 6.3 seconds and keeps pulling, completing the quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 95.1 mph. That’s a fair bit quicker than both the Ford Fusion and Subaru Legacy. The last comparable Fusion we tested, an all-wheel-drive Titanium model equipped with the 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 making 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, needed 6.8 seconds to hit 60 mph and 15.1 seconds to complete the quarter-mile at 91.6 mph. That’s faster than the new 2015 Subaru Legacy, too. The Legacy, equipped with a 3.6-liter flat-six, producing 256 hp and 247 lb-ft, hits 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, and does the quarter-mile in 15.3 seconds at 96.5 mph.
With the 200 weighing more than 100 pounds over either the Ford or Subaru, it isn’t surprising that its rivals managed to beat its 125-foot 60-0 mph braking distance. What is surprising, though, is that the portly Chrysler still managed to beat both the Fusion and Legacy around the figure eight. The 200S AWD managed to lap the figure eight in 26.7 seconds at 0.72 g average. The best the Legacy could manage was 27.6 seconds at 0.64 g average, while the Fusion split the difference between the two, with a 27.2-second lap averaging 0.64 g.
Out on the road, the 2015 Chrysler 200S proves to be a pretty impressive midsize sedan, as long as you check your expectations at the door. Those hoping that “S” trim level stands for Sport (it’s more like sporty) will probably be disappointed. Push the 200S hard, and excessive body roll and a less-than-responsive transmission reveals itself, making tight cornering not fun. That said, the 200S can be fun on a wide-open road. Take it out on a NASCAR-style oval, though, and the 200S pulls effortlessly and strongly all the way up to 130 mph, staying rock solid and planted at triple-digit speeds. If stock-car racing was run with actual stock cars, it’d be hard to pass up this 200.
While running the 200S fast around a track may seem like a pointless exercise, it does show a bit of the engineering muscle Chrysler put into the 200 — something it’s never really done before. Simply put, if the 200 is good at 130 mph, it’ll be more than capable at the legal speeds owners will see out on the highways. Around town, the 200 drives and handles nicely, though I’m not entirely convinced the 200’s nine-speed automatic is a finished product. It’s slow to react and jerky at low speeds, and it often feels like the transmission’s computer just can’t figure out which of the nine available ratios is the best to be in at any given moment.
The 2015 Chrysler 200S is priced competitively for the segment. Our vivid blue-pearl tester started at $29,695 and was equipped with a variety of luxury and safety options. Some of the more notable options included leather heated and cooled seats; the Comfort Group (which includes a backup camera and automatic A/C, among other things); the Navigation and Sound package, which adds navigation and an Alpine audio system; and blind-spot and cross-path detection. The total price for our 2015 200S AWD tester was $35,060.
Ultimately, the new 2015 Chrysler 200S is a massive leap in the right direction for Chrysler. After years of less-than-mediocre offerings in the midsize segment, the new 200 finally represents a midsize sedan Chrysler can be proud of. While the new 200S isn’t yet class leading, it’s certainly class competitive, and that’s worlds better than any 200 — or Sebring, for that matter — has ever been.
|2015 Chrysler 200S AWD|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$35,060|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||3.6L/295-hp/262-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3844 lb (60/40%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||192.3 x 73.6 x 58.7 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.7 sec @ 95.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||125 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.81 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.7 sec @ 0.72 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/29/22 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||187/116 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.89 lb/mile|