Chrysler’s New 200 Gives the Brand a Fresh Start

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Chrysler‘s (FIATY.PK) 200 sedan has been a fairly decent middle-of-the-road car, except for one factor that has been seen as its Achilles’ heel: it has never been a very exciting car performance-wise or even visually. There has been no hybrid model, no high-performance variant, and the greatest deviance from the base car has been a convertible version that — outside of the removable roof — doesn’t offer a whole lot that buyers can’t find in other cars.

With the 2015 model of the 200, though, Chrysler appears to be actively revitalizing the brand’s image. The Chrysler nameplate is the sort of mild luxury branch of the Chrysler family, which covers Dodge, Ram, SRT, and Jeep, as well. However, as a luxury brand (albeit a mild one), Chrysler has been coasting while other major manufacturers have ramped up their luxury efforts with great success.

The 2015 200 is a giant step toward positioning Chrysler as a premium brand once again, as the dated model’s somewhat economical appearance has been replaced by a smooth, flowing profile that is much more befitting of a premium brand. Sleeker headlights and a more unified front end blend seamlessly into the rest of the 200′s more graceful body.

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Though the recent models of the 200 feature the LED highlights that are becoming increasingly commonplace, they look more at home on the new model and mimic the new design language that could potentially see extrapolation throughout the Chrysler range. Some have noted that the 200′s exterior appearance recalls the Audi A7 and Tesla Model S, and those cars are not ugly by any means.

Within, Chrysler’s Tigershark inline-four will be buyers’ base engine option; it delivers 184 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque from its 2.4-liter displacement. Higher up is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 295 horsepower and 262 pound-feet; that one will come standard when the car is equipped with all-wheel drive.

Chrysler has been struggling recently as its competition has plowed on full steam. The recent ownership turmoil involving Fiat may have played a role in slowing the Chrysler brand down, and although Dodge had itself a strong year, the Dart compact sedan was met with lukewarm reception and unimpressive sales. Chrysler’s own 300C has been praised but isn’t selling as well as its predecessor. For Chrysler, a fair amount is now riding on the new 200 as Fiat takes the reins over the entire company as its American arm.

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