2016 Chrysler 200 Limited: Good car, but …farewell…

10 Aug 2016 | 944 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds One of the saddest bits of news over the last few months has been an announcement of the pending departure of the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart, two really decent products that, at least here in Pittsburgh, have pretty big followings---and sales. Our understanding from industry sources is that FCA wants to concentrate on minivans like its highly acclaimed Pacific--which we will soon drive--along with crossovers, trucks and SUVS, and thankfully, they are keeping on their terrific Dodge sports models and even adding a new convertible--rumored to be named the 'Cuda after the defunct Plymouth brand's much lionized pony cars of the 1970s. We also love the Fiat lineup and we are greatly relieved they will be around a while too. 2016 Chrysler 200S Alloy Edition The bleak news is especially tough to take because Chrysler, the brand, is building some of the best cars they have offered in decades.  Quality of materials and presentation are markedly better than products of the past. Quality control is up. Styling and design are way, way up. There are fewer shortcuts like visible metal rails that have suggested cheapness in much earlier products. The Chrysler 200 is a well-built, very attractive, reasonably priced medium sized sedan that unfortunately sells in the cutthroat mid-sized family car segment.  For whatever reason, Chrysler has had one heck of a tough time marketing the car after it was launched with a lot of celebration at auto shows and car magazine reviews that seemed to say it was a big improvement over its predecessor. The car has  has a high quality, expensive looking interior with plenty of room up front, and it is joyously easy to operate.  You do have that dial on the console that controls the shifts of the nine speed automatic transmission, which takes some getting used to.  But that transmission has smoothed out a lot in the last year or two.  Early models were balky and hard to shift. And as we said, the styling is beautiful, and very Audi and Mercedes CLS looking with it sloping four door coupe styling. Black and dark blue are especially smashing on this car with optional chrome wheels. We recently test drove a 200 Limited Platinum with standard features like Velvet Red Clearcoat paint, 3.6 liter V6, with a nine speed automatic transmission; electronic stability control and traction control, antilock rakes, electric parking brake, power windows, tilt/telescopic steering column, automatic headlamps, electric power steering, security alarm, cruise control, rear window defroster, Uconnect with  integrated Voice Command with Blue and other items. Add in an optional Limited Platinum package that included a larger Uconnect system, satellite radio, leather trimmed bucket seats, six way power passenger sets, auto dimming rearview mirror with microphone, and a Comfort and Convenience Group, the final price came to $28,175. And you can even get all-wheel drive as an option! Now, look back at that list of equipment, and the almost ridiculously low price. That's value. For the price of a modestly equipped compact, consumers can step up to a larger, roomier, much more comfortable car. I would think that, given consumers' current habit of cross shopping and comparison making, the 200 would have quite a case to make. The star of the 200's show is its Uconnect audio/entertainment/climate control system--hands down, the best in the business. We are talking about jumping in the car, setting up Bluetooth and just about everything else in way less than a minute's time. No fuss, no muss, no hassle. We also liked the quiet, reassuring ride and pretty good handling of the 200, too.  You won't find your feathers ruffled by a lot of interior noise, bouncy ride or quarrelsome suspension, brakes and handling. Problems included a rather snug back seat and limited headroom, and in some conditions, limited visibility due to the sloping design of the roofline. Fuel economy is rated at 19 city, 32 highway and 23 overall.  You spend $750 more in fuel costs over five years compared with other new vehicles.  The annual fuel cost is $1,950 a year or about $9000 over five years, based on 15,000 miles of annual driving with gasoline costing $3.50 a gallon. The warranty program covers the basics for about 3 years or 36,000 miles, while the powertrain limited warranty is covered for five year or 60,000 miles. We're sad to see the 200 go, but given the very positive experiences we had with it, this car can certainly go out with its head held high.      

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