The previous generations of the Chrysler 200 brought no excitement in the world. The mid-size sedan market has plenty of competition, and the 200 suffered in terms of fuel economy, technology, and lack of all-around thrills.
In 2015 the Chrysler 200 went through a radical transformation, turning from the proverbial ugly duckling into a gracious swan. For 2016 the designers stuck with a winning formula.
2016 Chrysler 200S AWD
|3.6L V6||295 hp||262 lb-ft||9-speed automatic||$29,545||$35,315||Buy it!|
The Ye Olde Tyme look of previous generations has been replaced with a sleek and sophisticated silhouette. Blacked out upper and lower grilles as well as a dark B-pillar give the car a bit of an edge, but it’s the rear fascia that really stands out. Accented by dual chrome tipped exhausts, the LED tail lights give it a look reminiscent of an upscale Audi, rather than a sub-$30,000 sedan.
While a 4-cylinder engine is available in other models, the S-model comes standard with a 3.6L V6, good for a class-leading 295 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. FWD is available but our test model gets power to all four wheels via a 9-speed (That’s correct…9-speed.) automatic transmission. EPA fuel ratings are 18 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. Over 321 mostly highway miles, I averaged 28.1 mpg.
The interior of the 200S is very modern, full of soft touch, high quality materials. The 8.4-inch touchscreen with the Uconnect system is still one of the best in the business. Though the interface may look crowded at first, it is thoughtfully laid out and very intuitive. It allows for quick inputs and is easily accessible from the driver’s seat.
Storage is plentiful, with a space beneath the dash for a pass–through, featuring a likeness of the Motor City skyline. Imported from Detroit, you know. The center console has a sliding cover that locks firmly into place, but can slide back to reveal a deep cavernous space, complete with a USB port, audio inputs, and a 12V outlet.
The front seat offers plenty of room for my 5-foot 9-inch frame, but those any taller may find the back seat a bit cramped.
Standard on the 200S are keyless entry, Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, back up camera, paddle shifters, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power 8-way driver’s seat, power heated mirrors, laminated acoustic front door glass, and tinted acoustic windshield glass.
Included in our maxed out test model are the leather trimmed heated/vented front seats and power 6-way passenger seat ($995); dual zone climate control, heated steering wheel, and remote start ($895); navigation, 7-inch driver information display cluster, 9 Alpine speakers with subwoofer and 506-watt amplifier, HD radio, and auto-dimming rear view mirror ($1495); 19-inch hyper black aluminum wheels ($795); and blind spot and cross path detection ($595).
While all of these options are nice to have, the one we wouldn’t live without is the blind spot and cross path detection system. Usually sedans give excellent sightlines, but the large B-pillar in the 200S can make quick lane changes to the left difficult.
The 9-speed automatic transmission in the 200S is operated by what Chrysler calls a Rotary E-shift. The dial takes up much less space on the dash for sure, but it is the same size as the climate control dials. More than one we found ourselves attempting to shift from Reverse into Drive and turning on the air conditioner instead.
And while we’re on the subject of the 9-speed transmission, let’s discuss the practicality of including paddle shifters. Generally in an automatic we like to see paddle shifters, as it gives the driver a modicum of control over the car. However, with 9 speeds, if one were to actually use them, it would mean shifting for practically every 10 mph increase in speed.
Fortunately the car does just fine on its own, smoothly selecting the correct gear, and even holding to near the red line when you lay down the hammer. Still, it will float at 1500 rpm in 9th gear at 70 mph on the highway. It’s like getting the benefits of a continuously variable transmission, without that pesky CVT whine.
The 200S comes with a Sport mode for those that want a more aggressive throttle map, revised shift points, and heavier steering. The “traction control off” button lights up on the dash with the Sport mode is engaged, but it’s tough to believe that Chrysler would allow traction control to be completely disabled. It’s a mid-size sedan, not a Ferrari.
The drive train defaults to FWD for fuel economy, but can switch to AWD in a millisecond. It can also deliver an infinite amount of torque split variation from front to rear based on road conditions and driving style. In Sport mode, the system automatically sends 60 percent of torque to the rear wheels.
This set up make it nimble around turns, if a bit stiff over rough pavement. If you want a cushier ride, you should step up to the 200C AWD. The 19-inch wheels also help to transmit every bump in the road to the butts in the seats, but it’s far from uncomfortable.
There are many alternatives to the 2016 Chrysler 200S in the crowded mid-size sedan segment. The Mazda6 is undoubtedly the most engaging to drive, while the Honda Accord offers reliability and better fuel economy than the 200S. Some folks might even just buy a Toyota Camry because, hey…everyone else has.
Still you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t look at the 200S. Our test model starts at $29,545 and with all our options comes out to $35,315.
On the TFL Car scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
The 2016 Chrysler 200S AWD gets a Buy It! It’s a sleek sedan with enough power under the hood and enough strength behind the chassis to make it just a smidge of fun, which just might be enough for you.
Check out this mash up of last year’s Chrysler 200S and the Subaru Legacy.
|Emme is a driver, reviewer, rabble rouser, and Gazelle who can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and either one of her blogs.|