It’s a shame sometimes that certain vehicles are relegated to a specific life as soon as they’re designed and engineered. Of course, I’m referring to the life of the fleet vehicle. Certain cars just go the way of mass-production for rental companies (read: Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, and Chrysler 200).
Now, just because a vehicle is relegated to a life of fleet status doesn’t make it a bad car, in fact quite the opposite. These cars are bred into their domain of expertise because they are so widely accepted and drivable. They are no-fuss, even-tempered vehicles that are perfect for everyone. Middle of the ground, so to speak; but in the best way possible.
Double take on a first impression
When I first saw the Chrysler 200’s redesigned look two years ago, I wasn’t immediately taken. I found it a bit too sleek, a bit too understated and a bit too… much. At least for a Chrysler. It was almost like they were trying too hard to impress, too hard to get noticed. While I did notice the change, I think I noticed for the wrong reasons.
However, this second time around I took notice the right way. There’s something elegant about the 2015 Chrysler 200. While I found it too subdued and “smooth” at first, now I see why Chrylser took the direction it did in terms of design. Soft edges, flowing lines, and a front and rear that mimic each other while also complement one another.
The 2015 Chrysler 200 also carries that now-kind-of-common coupe silhouette, with four doors. It’s a sophisticated styling cue I’ve come to really like, and the 200 wears it well. The badging is oddly subtle yet larger and more intense than its ever been before. LED headlights add a modern look, and the dual integrated exhaust tips out the rear add a sporty touch, too.
My particular Limited model of the 2015 Chrysler 200 featured a lower front lip, which only added to the car’s sporty demeanor.
I’m not sure why I ever disliked it before.
Step inside the Chrysler 200 and that elegance continues. Again, I was taken a bit by surprise at the whole layout and quality of materials used. I’m not sure what I expected to find, but it wasn’t that.
The centre stack is particularly pleasant to behold, with a symmetrical, modern layout. There is enough of a balance between physical buttons and touchscreen stuff to keep all members of the family and all generations happy.
The simplicity of the gauge cluster is off-set by the seemingly complicated steering wheel, loaded with buttons. In typical FCA fashion, hidden buttons behind the left and right side at 9-3 of the steering wheel control entertainment track changes and volume, and I still adore those -- always have.
I’ve also always rather liked Uconnect, and on the 200’s 8.4” touchscreen display, it’s a breeze to use and navigate. I don’t particularly like the climate controls hidden in the system, but live with it for long enough and it’ll become second nature, for sure.
Also, the seats in the 2015 Chrysler 200 are really, really comfortable. This is an attribute I believe we can thank its fleet-car breeding for -- road trips and family vacation drives are no fun if the seats aren’t comfy.
Easy on the eyes and easy in the drive
Since I was behind the wheel of the 2015 Chrysler 200 Limited model, I was privy to FCA’s 3.6L Pentastar VVT V6 mill that produces 295 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Sadly, it’s paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
Seriously. Nine speed. It’s not necessary, and it’s laborious, and it doesn’t perform well. It gets confused and reacts poorly on the highway, it’s just not a fun drive. Otherwise the engine and performance in the Chrysler 200 is fantastic, but that 9-speed ruins it. Truly.
Placing the 2015 Chrysler 200 Limited in “S” mode via the twist-knob gear lever livens the drive, sharpening the throttle response and steering feel. While it’s not a drastic difference, it does make enough of a change to keep things interesting and had me reaching for the shifter “knob” to hit the S as soon as I got in the car each time.
Handling and suspension are both smooth and uneventful, precisely what you’d want from a vehicle to please the masses. There’s nothing shocking or polarizing about the way the Chrysler 200 handles unevenness on the road or twisty turns or even abrupt stops and starts. It does everything in an agreeable and mundane way. Just normal. Perfect.
Fleet for life
Despite the middle-of-the-road stature of the 2015 Chrysler 200, I can’t see anyone being disappointed in owning one. It checks all the necessary and even some of the unnecessary and extra boxes in terms of what makes a good, reliable, and nice-to-own car these days.
Just because the Chrysler 200 has been relegated to a life of fleet service shouldn’t hinder its success as your family’s next car. In fact, it should elevate it in its appeal. And with both FWD and AWD versions available, and a starting price in the $20k range (with my AWD well-appointed Limited version coming in just over $31k), the 2015 Chrysler 200 has lots going for it. Don’t dismiss it, you’ll regret it if you do.