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2015 Chrysler 200S review notes

Time:2018-08-03 02:27Turbochargers information Click:

2015 review Chrysler Note 200S

DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Vastly improved over the rental-car special 200 that preceded it, our 2015 Chrysler 200S got a lot of attention from bystanders and neighbors who remarked on its good looks and beautifully trimmed interior. The new car hews tightly to the “cockpit” theme so popular today, and it actually works well, too. Critical controls are right at the driver’s fingertips on the lower portion of the center stack, and Chrysler has managed to sneak storage bins and cubbies into nearly every available space. A few of the styling elements come off as just busy -- do the words “speedometer” and “tachometer” really need to appear on the gauges, as though someone might confuse the two? -- but the overall execution is really pleasant. There's also more room than one would expect, especially for rear-seat passengers, and a spacious, flat-floored trunk should swallow anything a family needs to stuff inside. 

Where this car really falls down for me is the powertrain. Yes, I know there’s a nearly 300-hp V6 and a nine-speed automatic under the hood, but it’s an unrefined execution. The weirdest thing is the shift programming; it’s as if Chrysler tuned the ZF nine-speed to feel like an old four-speed slushbox instead of taking advantage of the extra ratios. Where you’d expect tightly spaced shifts and smooth acceleration within a fairly narrow rpm band, the engine instead winds itself up then lurches into the next gear with a significant drop in revs. Looking at the specs, sixth-ninth gear are all overdrives, and the ratio from first to second goes from 4.71 to 2.81…not sure why the engineers picked those cogs, but the shift quality and powertrain refinement on our tester was a definite throwback, all the way to the “clunk” when you dial up park.

When I drove the new 200 six months ago, I remember being more impressed by the four-cylinder than the six, but I don’t have anything in my notes about being disappointed in the transmission tuning of either model. My guess is a calibration got adjusted between then and now -- I wish they’d change it back.

The 200S is a lot of car for the money; even at $33,000, AWD, a powerful V6 and “surprise and delight” features like real wood on the dash and a heated steering wheel should get customers in the showrooms. Chrysler just needs to hope they didn’t come straight from a Honda Accord V6 or Hyundai Sonata test drive, because the 200 still can’t match the powertrain refinement of its competitors.

2014 Chrysler 200 gets a short run

Car News 2014 Chrysler 200 gets a short run

Chrysler Group will cut short the Chrysler 200 sedan's 2014 model year to launch a redesigned version in January.Internal Chrysler documents indicate that the 2014 Chrysler 200 will start production ...

2015 Chrysler 200S interior

The interior of the 2015 Chrysler 200S is comfortable, and spacious.

ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: Miles, miles ahead in terms of exterior looks, interior trim, and even powertrain compared to the previous 200, though like Andy said, it’s still not where it needs to be in a tough midsize sedan segment.

The upgraded sheetmetal on the 200 makes it look way better than the last model, even if it does look a little bit like a chromed-out Dodge Dart. The wheels do a very good job of making this car look like it’s worth more than $30K. The rear, too, with its swoopy taillights, reminds me of something Italian or European.

Inside, the houndstooth pattern on the seats looks cool with the leather trim. They’re comfortable, but not Lexus comfortable. They feel like an old, well-taken-care-of armchair. The UConnect sound system is now easy to use, though I had to fiddle with it for minute to get my podcasts going. I love the heated steering wheel, it’s a function that you don’t really need, but can’t live without. The backseat was big enough for three wide without much complaint.

The overall look and feel of the dash and components are great. I don’t love the gearshift knob – there’s nowhere to rest your right hand -- but I could live with it. Everything in the center looks cool and classy.

So, we know the 295-hp Pentastar V6 is good: we’ve looked at it, we’ve built it, and now it’s installed in almost every car Chrysler makes. That’s not the problem; it’s this nine-speed transmission that doesn’t do it any justice. I won’t go as far as Andy because it isn’t terrible, but it spends a lot of time shifting, when that time could be better spent accelerating. And it doesn’t shift quickly, either and it seems to hang in gear longer than I think it should, making the interior a noisier than it could be. I really think a six-speed is the sweet spot for automatic transmissions.

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