Test Car Information
2015 Chrysler 200S AWD
3.6L naturally aspirated V6, 295 hp @ 6,350 RPM, 262 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm
9-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive
Options: Comfort Group, Navigation and Sound Group I, Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof, Premium Lighting Group, 19×8-in Hyper Black Aluminum Wheels
MSRP as tested: $35,295 (including $995 S&H charge)
Platform and Chassis
The current Chrysler 200 is based on FIAT’s C-Evo platform. The C-Evo platform, which is firstly used on the 2010 Alfa Romeo Giulietta, utilizes 84% high-strength steel and 4% aluminum. The front/rear suspension also extensively uses aluminum. Therefore, the C-Evo is an advanced platform.
Above image: the rear suspension lower control arms are made with Aluminum
The Chrysler 200 also has a major selling point: it is currently one of the 3 moderately-priced mid-size sedans in the US market that provides an AWD system (the other two are the Subaru Legacy and also the Ford Fusion)
When selecting the AWD option, the 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine is the only choice for the Chrysler 200. This engine has all the latest technologies except fuel direct-injection (actually direct-injection does not exist in any Chrysler products at this moment). This is a decent powerplant for a mid-size sedan.
The All-Wheel-Drive System
The AWD system on the Chrysler 200 is somewhat similar to how the Acura SH-AWD system works: each rear wheel is driven by one power coupling device (so there are two in total). In front of the drive shaft (which transfers power to the rear wheels), there is a power transfer unit (PTU) with a multi-plate coupling clutch.
One unique feature of this AWD system is: when there is no slipping in the front wheels, both the coupling clutch in the PTU, and also the two power coupling devices in the rear wheels are completely disconnected. Therefore when the AWD system is working in the FWD-only mode, the rear wheel drive shaft, and also all mechanical parts connected to the rear wheels is completely discounted from the engine power, hence they will not rotate/spin at all.
By using this mechanism, there will be much less parasitic loss when all-wheel drive mode is not needed. However, this also brings the disadvantage: the response time of this system will be slower than other on-demand (part-time) AWD systems, because there are two sets of clutches need to be engaged. This means the Chrysler 200’s AWD system makes compromise on the AWD performance in exchange for better fuel efficiency.
Above photo: side profile of our test car
The 200’s car body is extremely rigid, which transmits a rock solid feel when driving on roads with broken pavement and lots of small potholes. Its suspension is on the soft side, diminishes a certain amount of steering response and road feel; you may also have a slight “isolation” sensation when cornering, body roll is evident; however this will not affect your confidence of making a sharp turn – you can still feel the 4 wheels are firmly planted to the ground.
Of course, due to its FWD layout nature, understeering is quite evident when you are pushing the 200S hard enough to its limit, but I believe normal daily drivers will never want to drive it like this.
Acceleration is decent for its weight: obviously better than the 4-cylinder version, but I still feel it to be slightly slower than other V6-equipped competitors such as Camry, Accord and Passat etc., partially due to its 9-speed transmission’s gear ratio spread, which causes the engine need to rev up to the 4k RPM range at the green light quite frequently, to catch up the traffic flow during rush hours in southern California.
Interior Amenities and Features
Regarding the interior, soft-touch plastics are extensively used, however the plastic’s visual effect quality could be better. The big LCD screen on the center console is also easy to read and user-friendly. One thing I find may be an issue: the A-pillar is too thick and it blocks a large portion of the driver’s side vision, so you need to check carefully when you are going to make a left turn.
In summary, the 200S AWD provides has high value considering its performance and options, not to mention the importance of AWD in winter for folks who are living north of the snow belt. The 200S is not intended to be driven like a sports sedan; however, its powerful V6 and solid chassis will make your everyday point A to point B commute more enjoyable and pleasant. There are two major to-do suggestions from us: 1. the suspension can be a little bit stiffer; 2. the shape of the A-pillar should be improved to not blocking driver’s view.