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2016 Chrysler 200S AWD review by Carey Russ +VIDEO


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2016 Chrysler 200S

EDITOR'S NOTE: Chrysler confirmed that production of the Chrysler 200 will end in December 2016.
SEE FCA US Invests Nearly $1.5 Billion To Retool Chryser 200 Plant To Build Next-Gen RAM Pickups

2016 Chrysler 200...well-equipped, good-looking, and very functional

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS

            • Chrysler Research and Buyers Guide


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2016 Chrysler 200S

It took a while, but in the newest 200 Chrysler finally has a car that is truly competitive in the midsize sedan class. And in the 200S, it has one of the sportiest mass-market midsize family sedans available.

With the debut of the current 200 for model year 2015 all vestiges of the past were excised. The Fiat investment that resulted in creation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) got Chrysler off of life support and back to life with an infusion of capital and engineering technology. The first 200 in 2012 was really only a stopgap update of the aging and not particularly loved Sebring sedan, but brought naming in line with the flagship 300. The real 200, the one you can buy now, is based on the same Compact US Wide platform as the Dodge Dart, Jeep Cherokee, and now Chrysler Pacifica. That is a derivative of that under the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Chrysler 200 trim levels are LX, Limited, S, and C. S is the sporty model, with C offering more luxury. All are front-wheel drive in standard form, with all-wheel drive available on the S and C. The 2.4-liter, 184-horsepower "Tigershark" MultiAir four-cylinder is standard in all front-wheel drive versions, with the 3.6-liter, 295-hp Pentastar V6 standard in AWD S and C models and optional in the FWD versions of those and the Limited. The only transmission is Chrysler's nine-speed automatic. Brakes are antilock disc and suspension is fully-independent, with the S tuned a bit more firmly.

I tested a front-drive 200C with the four-cylinder engine last winter and found it a pleasant surprise. During wet and windy weather, it was stable and secure on the road, even at speed on the highway or a high, exposed bridge. It wasn’t really a luxury car, nor was it meant to be. It was a well-equipped, good-looking, and very functional midsize family sedan, with nearly all of the safety, comfort, and connectivity features expected in an upscale car today. The Tigershark engine worked well enough around town and in getting up to speed on the highway, but there wasn’t much left from it at highway speeds. No demerits, really, as it’s not a performance car, and a 27-mpg average for the week was respectable.

I’ve just finished a week with a 2016 AWD 200S. It’s a looker, as the model-specific gloss-black exterior trim highlights its exterior lines well. More importantly, it’s a mover, as even with the additional weight of the AWD system and V6 engine, there is significantly more urge than from the four. It’s not a shaker. Its suspension calibration is more mass-market sporty than serious sports, not surprising considering that it’s a mass-market car. Think European standard and you’ll be right — good comfort and control and a more engaging driving experience that is usual for a mass-market family car. The comprehensive $4700 worth of comfort and convenience options fitted to my test car made for a good contemporary take on entry luxury, American style. But none of those are really necessary to improve the 200S’s character. It’s a distinctively different sort of American family sedan, with contemporary character. And with nearly 11,000 press-fleet miles on the odometer, it was still solid, quiet, and rattle-free.

APPEARANCE: Chrysler’s styling department did well here. The 200 is distinctive and well-proportioned. The overall shape is smoothly rounded, with strategically-placed character lines providing contrast and adding visual interest. From the front, a winged interpretation of the Chrysler logo is featured in the upper grille, which itself echoes the wing shape as it blends into the headlights. Optional LED running lights add a contemporary upscale touch. The lower grille is a near inverse of the upper, blending into the foglamps. From the side, the passenger cabin dominates, with the base of the windshield near the front wheels and a near-fastback roofline that makes for an almost coup-like look. The high rear deck ends in an arched ducktail, and LED taillights define the rear view. S models have gloss black grille and side window trim while others get chrome.

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2016 Chrysler 200S

COMFORT: The interior styling echoes the exterior, with themes common in the industry but put together in its own distinctive way. It’s elegantly simple and functional, with high-quality materials and first-rate fit and finish. The S-specific textured blue plastic trim, matching the optional Ambassador Blue leather, is visually interesting — and those optional seats also mean both heat and ventilation for the front cushions plus power-adjustment for the passenger. An information screen sits between the blue-backlit analog tach and speedometer. The center stack touchscreen controls the Uconnect system that integrates navigation, audio, and various Bluetooth phone-based apps. All current varieties of audio entertainment are here, except for a CD player. The car can be used as a wifi hotspot.

Front seat comfort is very good, and the rear contoured bench has plenty of room and end of console air and floor heat vents for passengers. The seatback folds 60/40, and a center armrest and ski-passthrough add further convenience. But the best feature of the interior is allowed by the rotary shift knob on the console. If that seems a bit too gimmicky, it's less so than some pushbutton implementations. Yes, shift commands are all electronic now -- and that means the 200 has surprisingly spacious console storage. A quick look shows cupholders and some open storage ahead of the console box lid. Typical… but what's the latch at the front? Move it back, and a forward extension of the console box is revealed, plus audio connections and 12VDC power. Ahead of that and below is a large high-sided tray between the front positions and a 12VDC power outlet in the passenger-side footwell. And there are the usual door pockets, locking glove box, and good-sized trunk with a space-saver spare under its floor.

SAFETY: All 2016 Chrysler 200 models have frontal, front-seat side and knee, and full-length side curtain airbags plus child-resistant rear door locks and LATCH child seat tethers and a security system. A rear-view camera is standard in all but the LX, and blind-spot and cross-traffic monitoring are optional in all but the LX.

RIDE AND HANDLING: Chrysler has taken a Fiat-sourced platform and made it its own, a bit larger and even more modular for greater vehicle-type versatility. It's already been proven in the Dodge Dart and Jeep Cherokee, and works very well here. And is also used in the new Pacifica minivan. Attention to detail means very good levels comfort and response from the fully-independent MacPherson strut front, multilink rear suspension and low noise levels inside. The S’s springs and shocks are a bit firmer than those of other trim levels, but not at the expense of comfort. Think good middle-class European sedan. Steering effort is appropriate, not too light, and the brakes very good.

PERFORMANCE: Any perceived lack of power with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is cured by the 3.6-liter V6. Its maximum 295 horsepower (at 6350 rpm) and 262 lb-ft of torque (at 4250, with plenty lower) easily bests the four’s 184 and 173. The dual overhead cam, 24-valve aluminum alloy V6 uses variable-length intake runners and variable phasing on all camshafts for efficient power production. The nine-speed automatic transmission also helps fuel economy, especially on the highway. Fifth gear is direct (1:1), while sixth through ninth are overdrive, with ninth being a massive 0:48 for highway cruising almost at idle. The downside is that there is downshifting when passing at highway speeds, or often even lower. That’s expected and not a major problem — just use S (sport) mode to keep the transmission in a lower gear and delay upshifts in D, or allow manual shifting without reverting to D as in regular mode. Yes that impacts fuel economy, you can’t cheat the laws of physics and chemistry. Still, I saw a surprising 23+ mpg for my week, with a mix of city, backroad (some very steep) and highway travel.

CONCLUSIONS: The Chrysler 200S AWD is a pleasantly sporty family car.




SPECIFICATIONS

2016 Chrysler 200S AWD

Base Price $ 29,545

Price As Tested $ 35,315

Engine Type DOHC 24-valve aluminum alloy V6 with variable-length intake and variable cam phasing

Engine Size 3.6 liters / 220 cu. in.

Horsepower 295 @ 6350 rpm

Torque (lb-ft) 262 @ 4250 rpm

Transmission 9-speed automatic

Wheelbase / Length 108.0 in. / 192.3 in.

Curb Weight est 3800 lbs.

Pounds Per Horsepower 12.9

Fuel Capacity 15.8 gal.

Fuel Requirement 87 octane unleaded regular gasoline

Tires 235//40 R19 96H m+s Nexen CP671

Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc

Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut / independent multilink

Drivetrain transverse front engine, all-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 18 / 29 / 23

0 to 60 mph 6.5 sec

OPTIONS AND CHARGES

Leather-trimmed heated & ventilated front sports seats with 6-way power front passenger seat $ 995

Comfort Group — includes: sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel and front seats, remote start system $ 895

Navigation and Sound Group — includes: UCONNECT® 8.4 NAV, 8.4-inch touchscreen display, 5-year Sirius/XM Travel Link and Traffic subscription, premium 7-inch Driver Information Display cluster, GPS navigation, 9 Alpine® speakers and subwoofer, UConnect Access 1-year trial, auto-dimming rearview mirror with microphone $ 1,495

19x8” Hyper Black aluminum wheels $ 795

Blind Spot and Cross-Patch detection $ 595

Destination Charge $ 995