2015 Chrysler 200: leapfrogging the midsize cars
With the first nine-speed automatic transmission in its class, the 2015 Chrysler 200 delivers better acceleration than the 2014s, with 13% better economy (four-cylinder; 7% higher on V6). As predicted, the nine-speed is controlled by a rotary shifter with an optional sport mode; and there is are all wheel drive and park-assist options.
The 2014’s basic engines carry over, but both have been upgraded; the four-cylinder now has 184 hp and 173 lb of torque, while the V6 has risen to 295 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. Chrysler 200 has also jumped forward to become the most aerodynamic mid-size sedan in America, with a cD of 0.27 — possibly the lowest drag coefficient of any Chrysler ever built — partly thanks to a standard underbody cover.
Some key options include shift paddles, park assist, and UConnect Access.
Powertrain: Engines and Nine-speed Automatic Transmission
The most important benefit of the new transmission may be the 9.81 ratio spread, which allows for low first gears with tall overdrives, to combine quick launches with highway gas mileage. The transmission ratios for the 2015 Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan are:
The rotary shifter has a mechanical, tactile feel with clear detents, and should be more reliable than mechanical systems. The electronically controlled transmission can quickly switch between 20 shift maps, based on torque, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, hill detection, friction detection, cruise control, stability control status, and temperature.
Four-cylinders get the Chrysler-built 948TE; V6 models, the ZF-built 9HP48. These are functionally identical and tested on the same equipment. Eventually, the V6 will probably switch to the 948TE. The transmission weighs around 30 pounds less than a similar six-speed gearbox, and has numerous efficiency improvements over typical automatics. Allpar has more details in our nine-speed automatic transmission page.
The 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder engine now has the MultiAir2 electro-hydraulic variable valve-lift-and-timing system, which cuts pumping losses and increases combustion efficiency. The engine churns out 184 horsepower and peak torque of 173 lb.-ft. at 4,600 rpm, and is quieter and smoother than the original “World Engines.” 2.4 engine in depth.
The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, listed multiple times among Ward’s 10 Best Engines, has 295 horsepower (up from 283) and peak torque of 262 lb.-ft. at 4,250 rpm. Exhaust manifold runners are integrated into the head casting, cutting weight; its dual independent cam phasing efficiently yet cost-effectively handles valve timing. A variable-displacement oil pump cuts parasitic losses. The intake manifold features low-rumble tuning. V6 engines in depth.
Body and suspension
The car sits on the new CUSW (Compact United States — Wide) dimensions, along with Dodge Dart and Jeep Cherokee; the body itself has a high-strength steel content of around 60%, among the highest in the industry. Using hot stamped-, high-strength- and ultra-high-strength steel helps to reduce weight while increasing strength.
The suspension architecture is similar to that of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, including its MacPherson front suspension, retuned to deliver a better ride on North American roads as well has good handling. The body structure has been stiffened, including the aluminum front cradle, rear body structure, and suspension attachments. Chrysler tuned the front suspension geometry to minimize camber loss.
Some features cited by Chrysler are:
- A split dome anti-sway bar to optimize the exchange of forces between the suspension and body, filtering out vibrations
- Telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers with high lateral stiffness
- Solid half-shafts throughout the range that help reduce weight and vibration
- Side load coil springs that optimize the thrust axis and help transfer loads on the shock absorber
- High-strength springs
- Spring isolators between the springs and their support bases to cut running noise
- One-piece cast-aluminum lower control arms for durability
For added safety and rigidity, a third load path was created with attachments on the cast-aluminum, flat cross member, strong enough to absorb loads in the event of an impact. The front suspension cradle is made of high-pressure, die-cast aluminum, which is lighter than more conventional front cradle applications; the stiffness of the cradle reduces vibration.
The rear suspension features:
- A twist blade multi-link independent suspension design.
- An aluminum cross member with an optimized weight/stiffness ratio that improves the reaction to lateral loads
- A stabilizer bar with high torsional stiffness
- Bushings with low dynamic stiffening ratios to reduce noise while keeping good handling
- Spring isolators between the springs and their support bases to reduce noise and vibration
- Steel springs with high fatigue durability that allow for weight containment
- Chrome guide rods for long durability even under extreme use
- Isolation of the rear suspension cradle to reduce passage of vibration
The standard 17-inch and available 19-inch tires were picked with an emphasis on fuel efficiency; the Chrysler 200S’s standard 18-inch tire puts a priority on steering and handling.
Different models have differently tuned suspension. The touring suspension is used on LX and Limited, a sprot suspension on S, a premium tune on C, and appropriate AWD versions on S and C with AWD. FWD cars have a final drive ratio of 3.734; AWD, 3.251. The final drive ratio is 3.73:1 with the 2.4 engine, 4.08:1 with the 3.6.
All wheel drive system
The 2015 Chrysler 200 is the first mid-size sedan with complete rear-axle disconnect, which seamlessly switches between front- and all-wheel drive for full-time torque management and does not require input from the driver. The disconnect cuts parasitic losses by up to 80% compared with competitive systems, by keeping components with parasitic losses (driveshaft, ring/pinion, input clutch plates, servo-hydraulic pump assembly and planetary gear sets) stationary when the car is in front-wheel drive mode.
The system activates when the computer detects anything from road-surface changes to electronic stability control (ESC) activation. As much as 60% of torque can be transferred to the rear wheels, for a “rear wheel drive feel.”
The experience is intensified when sport mode is engaged; the drivetrain delivers all-wheel-drive when needed, with torque biased toward the rear, and modifies the stability control’s yaw response for more dynamic handling, while adjusting the V-6 engine’s pedal map and setting the nine-speed to firmer, quicker engagement. For technical details, see our interview of the 200’s chief engineer.
The variable-assist power steering system has a 15.2:1 ratio, among the fastest- steering vehicles in the segment. As with many new cars, it uses a full-electric system for optimal steering effort at all speeds, with less noise, better efficiency, and potentially lower maintenance. The boost responds to steering torque, steering wheel speed and angle, and car speed, and is fully integrated with the stability control to compensate in split-traction, torque steer, and pull-drift (crowned road) situations. For technical details, see our interview of the 200’s chief engineer.
Interior, noise reduction, and HVAC
Engineers used computational fluid dynamics to adjust airflow through the ductwork, cutting noise and using a variable displacement condenser to continually match the requested cooling load; this keeps the system stable and helps it operate quietly and efficiently. The central unit doors of the system are electronic, with no cables, reducing noise and increasing the consistency of the system.
The air outlets are adjusted with rack-and-pinion vein adjusters. Models with automatic temperature control also include a humidity sensor, which creates an automatic defog capability.
Design and Styling
Brandon Faurote, Head of Chrysler Brand Design, said, “We developed an elegant composition of forms that feature clean yet expressive surfaces. The 2015 Chrysler 200 is the debut of the new face of Chrysler which is confidently American. It features a new signature design element that cradles the proudly displayed Chrysler wing badge and travels visually into the headlamps. The coupe- like silhouette flows seamlessly into the deck lid and conveys a sense of speed for a very dramatic, emotional appeal.”
It’s a sculptural design that conveys the essence of the long, drawn-out forms that were found on Chrysler coupes in the 1960s. A unified front graphic, the horizontal design orientation with sculpted body sides and a body line that wraps around the car ties the design together for a singular, flowing aesthetic.
The front of the new 200 debuts the new “face of Chrysler” with a unified look that integrates the grille and headlamps for the first time with a Mobius strip-inspired design that’s enhanced by a dynamic grille texture, providing a unique 3-dimensional effect.
A light pipe or full-LED daytime running lamps (DRL) and LED fog lamps give the Chrysler 200 a recognizable look. The new DRL debuts a new shape for the 200, starting in the top corner, moving down and then inward, wrapping around the headlamps.
The 2015 Chrysler 200’s athletic form is highlighted by wide “shoulders” and balanced width. The 2015 Chrysler 200S model continues the successful S model design with an exclusive, darker look not found on other models. The 2014 Chrysler 200S accounted for roughly 25% of sales while attracting a younger, more affluent customer.
Designers said they were inspired by classic American design – the Eames lounge chair, the iPhone, Airstream travel trailers – that use materials in an honest way. Klaus Busse, Head of Interior Design, said, “Formed wood, used as an integral element of the design, is what captured our attention and inspired us. Customers can see an example of this approach in the open pore wood trim in the new 200; it’s not just decoration, but a structural element that visually ‘holds’ the components and the instrument panel itself in place.”
A pass-through storage area at the front of the console is accessible by both the driver and front-seat passenger. An opening at the rear storage area allows wires to connect to the power supply and media center in the center console. The sliding cup holder moves with smooth, furniture-like movements.
There are three interiors, black with satin chrome accents (LX, Limited, 200C); Linen and Black with satin chrome accents; and Black and Ambassador Blue, with monotone black cloth and Ambassador Blue leather seating and accents (200S, late availability).
The premium package interior has Linen perforated Nappa leather seating with bronze piping and bronze accent stitching, real open pore wood trim, and warm chrome accents. A two-tone heated steering wheel rounds out the package.
A vinyl-wrapped instrument panel brow, center console arm rest and front door armrests are standard on all models. Genuine open-pore wood (optional) has a layered-edge treatment.
Seats in the 2015 Chrysler 200 are trimmed with premium cloth or quality Nappa leather and are available with power adjustable, heated/ventilated seats with memory.
UConnect, Parking Assist, Stereos, and Such
The 5- or 7-inch full-color reconfigurable instrument cluster presents the information a customer needs at their fingertips, while allowing the driver to add the information they desire, including speed, turn-by- turn navigation, fuel economy, and safety and security functions such as the ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, audio information. and trip details.
The optional Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist System (a first for a Chrysler brand vehicle) operated with buttons on the steering wheel and the shifter. The graphic walks the driver through the steps needed. The 2015 Chrysler 200 is the only mid-size sedan with perpendicular park assist. (The illustration is from the Jeep Cherokee, not the 200.)Uconnect includes audio, climate, seat, and other controls; most are redundant with physical controls. Uconnect Access includes Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, navigation, apps (Pandora, Aha, iHeartRadio and more), voice-to-text messaging, and streaming audio.
An available 8.4-inch touchscreen multimedia command center, the largest in the segment – or the 5-inch touchscreen multimedia command center are attractive, intuitive and easy to use, and are located in the center stack.
When launched, Chrysler 200 was the only car in its class to have optional forward collision warning with optional braking; perpendicular parking assist, and park assist with stop; and hill-start assist (“safe hold”) — and the only non-luxury midsize sedan to have adaptive cruise with full stop and hold (most of these features were options on 200C only). Only one other midsize sedan in its price class had parallel-park assist, low-speed forward collision warning with full stop, or lane departure warning with keep assist.
|Main • Specs • Impressions/Launch • Rumors/Renderings • Chief Engineer Interview|
|2.4 engine • V6 engine • Four Speed • Six Speed • Nine Speed • UConnect • Factory|
|Sedan • Convertible • 200 Review • Convertible Review • 200 vs Sebring|