First Impressions: 2015 Chrysler 200S

Chrysler has some a long way in the past decade. Their cars are appealing to younger and younger audiences while still promising the roominess that made the brand so popular for decades. How does the sport edition of the 2015 Chrysler 200 stand up to our family-centric testing eye? We found out.

Handling

The 200S comes standard with Chrysler’s 2.4-liter Tigershark 4-cylinder engine which delivers 184 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. The engine was surprisingly stout and was unexpectedly quick, likely due to the 9-speed automatic transmission it was paired with.

The ride was solid with surefooted handling around some pretty tight curves that saw us pushing the handling to the point of tire chirping. The ride avoided rigid stiffness while still communicating road conditions effectively. In the brief bit of stop-and-go driving we found on our test drive, the 9-speed transmission seemed to have too many options. When slowing down and speeding back up the transmission spent a bit too long thinking about which gear to choose. When it did decide, it occasionally changed its mind immediately making the ride feel stilted and jerky.

Infotainment

Our tester came with an optional 8.4” touchscreen to manage Chrysler’s Uconnect Navigation and Sound Group infotainment system. The screen is large, but is nicely integrated into a dash that looks like it was designed with the larger screen in mind. Nothing, from the vents to the instrument cluster, looks like an afterthought or an add-on.

Uconnect allows access to a suite of subscription apps as well as mobile device integration. Our 200S was equipped with Premium Navigation that worked well and provided impressive detail around a small resort area some systems mark as a green spot. The navigation system features 3-D landmarks and 3-D terrain that were easily recognizable and useful.

A bank of analog controls transitions between the stack and center console houses some audio controls, HVAC controls, the electronic shift selector, and electronic parking brake. The simple setup is easy to use and understand and has a very clean appearance. We felt the audio and HVAC controls were a bit low and required too much eyes off the road time.

Exterior

There’s no real danger of the 200S being mistaken for any other vehicle on the road. It stands out among its midsize competitors the same way the 300 stands out in the full size segment. The 200 has a smug face that looks ready to eat up the miles. LED running lights accentuate the face by following the bottom of the curved grille and fascia. Move along the profile and the sporty coupe-like design is apparent. Steep back glass and a tall trunk team up with beefy wheel wells to add sportiness to the design.

The 200 is available in four trim models, the base LX, the Limited, the S, and the C. Each model has some exterior and interior color options in common, but each also has an option or two unique to the model. We drove a 200S in the Ceramic Blue color unique to the S. The blue is not only unique it allows the creases and bulges of the sculpted exterior to really pop.

Seating/Storage

We really liked the seats in the 200 for their comfort, but not so much for their appearance. They were comfortable but not too soft and provided just the right amount of support. The look of the seats gave us pause. They were an odd blue leather and looked a little too much like the super comfy recliner you really enjoy, but hide from company in the basement.

There was storage everywhere in the 200. The trunk was massive. The electronic transmission control and parking brake allowed for crazy storage in the center console. The lid for the console storage is the cupholders for the front seat passengers. Slide it back and gain access to a large bin which also houses a connectivity hub with an AUX, USB, and auxiliary power outlets. The reduced size of the electronic controls frees up space underneath making a large pass-through area between the two front seats likely big enough to keep a fast food order from flying across the car on your way home from the drive through.

image courtesy of Chrysler
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