A Top to Bottom Redesign Results in Luxury at an Affordable Price
If God is in the details, the Devil is in the details, too. Settling into the Chrysler 200, you understand this: everywhere you look there’s another innovative detail that makes you think, ‘how smart is that?’
One of the reasons it’s so innovative, and there are so many details (here’s the Devil part) is that the automaker has spent the past few years completely redesigning the Chrysler 200. Top to bottom, inside and out, the car maker not only brought fresh thinking to every aspect, but invested more than a billion dollars to innovate the way the car is built, designing and building a new assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
American Designed, Italian Approved
When Chrysler became fully owned by Italian auto maker Fiat recently, industry speculation held that design decisions would come from the home office, the Alpha Romeo design studio.
But in sticking with the ‘Imported from Detroit’ DNA of the brand, the 200’s interior was wholly designed in Detroit, said Christian Farkas, the car’s interior designer (though the car’s frame and mechanics are taken from an Alpha Romeo foundational design that informs all Chrysler models).“I love and respect my Italian colleagues, but they had nothing to do with the design of the 200.” Farkas and his team looked at the best that Chrysler and modern car design has to offer —including integrating some of Jeep’s design and technology—for their inspiration and innovation.
The result? A million little details that accommodate your needs in the car, indulge you in luxuries, and to connect you to your devices and the outside world while you’re behind the wheel.
On the Outside: Sweeping Lines For a Visual Journey
The car’s exterior has a familiar, luxury car appeal with sweeping lines that move your eye from the front grille to the final swoosh of the upturned trunk lid in one fluid motion, a design that looks far more expensive than it is.
It’s not just pretty, though, it’s efficient: the car’s design enhances its aerodynamics so that it drives more smoothly, gets up to speed faster and gets better fuel economy than previous models in both its base engine and the sportier-driving 6-cylinder model. And the exterior is accented with little flourishes like LED lighting and turn signals tucked into the car’s fenders that make it seem far more expensive than it is.
The 200 is among the smaller of Chrysler’s sedans—officially it’s a mid-sized sedan— but its interior space is carved deeper into the frame of the car so it feels much roomier than its size would suggest. Its smaller size also allows it to flow easy in traffic and into parking spots. Unless you decide to use the auto park feature. Yes, auto park, as in it automatically parks the car so you don’t have to.
Parking Is a Breeze. Literally
Chrysler outfitted the 200 with an auto park feature that, once engaged, parks the car automatically. No hands, no guessing, no hitting the curb and scraping your wheels, no mistakes. We tried it out and were amazed. It works like this: you push the auto park button, position the car so the spot you want is ahead, pull forward until the car’s sonar system fully senses the spot, then put the car in reverse and let the wheel go. As you ease off the brake the 200 takes over, self-guiding the car into a parallel parking spot.
But it will also park perpendicular, too: It will park in a regular, old, pull straight in spot between two cars. And even better, it BACKS in so that when you leave the spot you have full visibility. The process works the same way: pull past the spot, the car looks for the spot, when it’s found it, it signals, you put the car in reverse, ease off the brake and let the 200 do its thing.
Technology That Watches Out For You
The auto parking feature is a gas. But it’s just one of a host of automated features that constantly work to guide your trip and keep you safe.
A network of sensors and cameras keep an eye on traffic and road lines and both alert you and correct your course if it thinks you need help (all these features can be turned off if you don’t want them active).
Adaptive cruise control, probably my favorite feature, senses the speed of cars ahead of you and slows the 200 as needed; when the car ahead speeds up or leaves the lane, the 200 returns to the speed you set. You can set the ‘gap’ or the distance between you and traffic ahead, too, so that even when the ACC system kicks in, you’re still comfortably in control.
Lane departure assistance senses the lines on the road and alerts you when you’re veering over them; keep going and the 200 will gently nudge you back into your lane.
And the crash prevention feature keeps an eye on all vehicles and objects ahead of you and will stop the car before you hit anything.
See How the Chrysler 200 Perpendicular Parks Itself:
USB Ports: the New Cup Holders
Probably the most novel—and lovable —feature of the 200 is the sliding cup holder in the center console that hides storage space and power ports. Between the front seats, the console on first glance looks like a typical spot for cup holders. But push a button and the cup holders unlock and slide back into the center console, revealing a storage spot with a USB, an optional household plug and cigarette lighter power outlets, all neatly hidden away yet accessible. You can neatly tuck away your phone, keys or other objects, connect your phone and forget it.
See How The Chrysler 200 Parallel Parks Itself:
There is also a cigarette lighter power outlet on the passenger’s side of the center console frame, which is neatly accessible only by that passenger. Beneath the center console is yet another space where you can store smaller objects, such as a clutch purse, a tablet or stash a snack (shhhh).
The Incredible Shrinking Gear Shift
All this center console space was freed up when Chrysler moved from a traditional joystick shifter to a dial shifter. Located on the center console, just turn the dial to choose your gear. This took some getting used to, but if you don’t really care about the having a joystick (which can sometimes be inconvenient), it’s easy to get used to.
What We Loved
- Sliding console that reveals (and hides) charge ports and storage space
- Lots of conveniences including power ports and cup holders
- Dial gearshift
- Touch screen media system and navigation
- Hands free Bluetooth
- Quiet, comfortable ride
- Gorgeous interior leather options (Sausalito cream was our favorite)
- The price: starts at about $21,000 and tops out at about $35,000
What You Need to Know
- Seats 5 but more comfortable for four
- Plenty of trunk space
- 3 year/36,000 mile warranty
- Many tech features are only available on more expensive models
Disclosure: I was Chrysler’s guest to drive the new 200 in Louisville, KY; Chrysler provided my accommodations and access to the car; opinions expressed are all my own.