Remember the Chrysler Sebring? An awfully forgettable car if you ask most drivers. That sedan morphed into the re-badged Chrysler 200 back in 2010 and picked up sales where the Sebring had rapidly fallen out of favor. It looked better but still wasn’t a particularly memorable car. That changed in 2015 when Chrysler introduced the completely redesigned 200 and sales leaped 50 percent in a single year.
Yep, this new Chrysler is a better car in every way and buyers noticed. For 2016, the 200 receives only minimal improvements but it’s still easy to find five reasons to give this small sedan a chance.
Reason #1: Chrysler 200 Offers Stylish Design
The Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart share the same platform and share many common elements. But if it’s my money, I’ll choose the 200. Its stylish design gives this car an up-market look though the starting price, at $21,995, certainly falls into the realm of the affordable.
The 200 comes in five colors if you choose the base 200L model. Upgrade to the top-of-the-line 200C and you have 9 color choices.
The 200’s 17-inch wheels are standard, though consider upgrading to 18-inchers. I like the bigger wheels. It gives this car slightly more presence. What you won’t find is a convertible version of the 200. Michael Scott, the clueless boss of NBC’s “The Office” drove a convertible Sebring and potentially killed any possible cool in a convertible 200. However, if you absolutely must drive a convertible 200, search for the 2014 model — the last model before the redesign.
Reason #2: Two Engines and 9 Speeds
The Chrysler 200 offers two engines and both mate to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Yes, indeed, 9 gears to help improve fuel economy. You won’t find that many gears on a Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Kia Optima or Chevy Malibu.
The 2.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder engine makes 184 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque and is standard on all 200 models. The EPA expects this engine to return 23 mpg in city driving and 36 on the highway. That highway rating tops the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Ford Fusion and ties the Chevy Malibu.
The more powerful 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is optional on the Limited, 200S and 200C models and makes 295 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That’s a good chunk of power for a midsize sedan and the car moves well. That’s more horsepower than any of the top midsize sedan competitors, and that’s a good thing. Yet you should also expect to take more trips to the gas station to fill this thirsty engine. Expect 19 mpg around town and 32 mpg on the highway.
Add all-wheel drive to the mix and city economy drops to 18 mpg while highway efficiency drops to 29 mpg.
Reason #3: Sophisticated All-Wheel-Drive System
Here’s something that will appeal to drivers in snowy, wet climates: the 200 offers an available all-wheel drive system that works when you need it and transforms you car into a front-wheel drive machine when you don’t. For instance, if you’re driving on dry roads the system automatically disengages power from the rear wheels to help improve fuel efficiency. Yet when conditions change for the worse, the AWD system kicks in and automatically switches power between wheels as needed to improve traction in a variety of settings. It’s a smart system that is worth a close look if you live in foul-weather areas of the United States.
Reason #4: A Comfortable, Quiet Interior
You’ll like the 200’s interior. It’s comfortable but not overly showy. Upgrade a bit and the seats adjust eight ways and keep you warm in winter and cool in the summer. Choose between two sunroof options. One big and one even bigger dual-pane option.
I’m partial to the 8.4-inch Uconnect system that is so easy to use compared to some of the clunky systems that lurk in many other vehicles in this class. Pair your smartphone in seconds for streaming audio and phone calls and satellite radio offers a deep list of listening options.
Chrysler touts that the 200 offers more interior storage space than any other cars in its class with more than 1,000 cubic inches. The 200 also offers 16 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than you’ll find in most midsize sedans.
Reason #5: Chrysler 200 Earns A Top Safety Pick+
The 2016 Chrysler 200 earned a “Top Safety Pick+” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That’s the IIHS’s top rating. The Chrysler 200 earned that rating through its excellent crash test scores and safety features that include eight airbags, an available rearview camera, available forward-collision warning with active braking, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, electronic stability control and adaptive cruise control.
Good but Reliability Is Still An Issue
The Chrysler 200 offers a lot of car for the money. It looks good. It protects occupants in an accident and it offers lots of power if you choose the V6 engine. But here’s a fact that may prevent you from immediately rushing to buy a new 200. Reliability is an ongoing problem and Consumer Reports expects reliability of the 2016 models to be “Poor.” That’s their lowest rating and it’s a big red flag for potential 200 buyers. Alternatively, the reliability of a new Honda Accord is expected to be “Very Good” while a new Toyota Camry’s dependability is expected to be “Excellent.”
Given that troubled reliability prediction and equally difficult past, it may be best to lease versus buy a new Chrysler 200. At minimum, you’ll want to know that Chrysler backs 200 owners with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.