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New 200 Bats 1.000

2015 Chrysler 200

(And that’s “bats a thousand” to you non-baseball fans!) It wasn’t that long ago (2011) that we drove the then-new Chrysler 200 and decided it was a huge improvement over the previous car, the Chrysler Sebring. Well, a totally new 200 is now in the Chrysler showrooms, and it makes that old 200 look like a warmed-over Sebring rental car. Hmm...

Thanks go out to Joe Erbacher at Northtown Chrysler, who last week got me behind the wheel of a Velvet Red 2015 Chrysler 200 Limited sedan. I opted for one of the more base cars with the 2.4L MultiAir®2 Tigershark I-4 engine, having already driven a few different cars with Chrysler’s excellent 3.6L Pentastar V-6. The four-cylinder engines seem to be the way many manufacturers are going with cars in this class, so I wanted to see just what you get for your money.

I wasn’t disappointed. Is it stoplight-racing fast? No. But how many of us normally drive in stoplight-racing fast mode anyway? I didn’t think so. What you do get though, is a very competent powertrain that really doesn’t even feel much like it’s got only four cylinders. And get this: it’s connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission, which helps that I-4 use all of its 184 hp to your advantage. It also has a positive effect on fuel consumption, with an EPA estimate of 23/36 city/highway mpg. That nine-speed tranny is smooth-shifting; I was worried that with that many gears it would be shifting up and down all over the place, but that wasn’t the case.

I can’t go any further here without at least making a mention of the car’s new looks. Chrysler stylists obviously took a long, hard look at what was wrong with the old car (especially from the three-quarters rear view) and came up with a modern, sleek design which, although it’s not ground-breaking, will hold its own with potential buyers to whom looks are important.

The interior is just as inviting, although again, the black interior is just too much black for my taste. I’ll admit to being puzzled at my first glance towards the center console, when I didn’t see a shift lever anywhere. Sales guy George Bawab, who I’m sure has seen this happen a few times already, happily pointed out the round shift knob at the high-end of the console. It took about five minutes to get used to using it, and I think it’s the way they’ll all go eventually. The seats were roomy and comfortable, with plenty of adjustment (the test car had the optional convenience group, which included an eight-way power driver’s seat); the controls were mostly easy to figure out; and I liked the blue glow around the instrument pod. The back seat is also very usable, as it had better be in a car this size. It has a 60/40 fold-down arrangement which just adds to the already generous trunk space.

The 200 comes in four different trims: 200 LX, 200 Limited, 200S and 200C. The S and C models have an all wheel-drive option. The V-6 is optional on the FWD S and C, and standard on the AWD cars. For better fuel economy, the rear axle on the AWD model is a fully-disconnecting unit, which means that the car drives in FWD unless it detects that the other axle is needed for better traction.

Pricing starts at $21,700 for the LX; $23,255 for the Limited, and goes on up to $30,195 for the AWD 200C. The test car, with options and destination, stickered at $25,790.

A pretty good deal. And you won’t be embarrassed to have one parked in your driveway.

more info at: chrysler.com

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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