Ryan Aghdam

2015 Chrysler 200 LX Review

Disclaimer: The Fiat Automotive Group was so eager to have me test their fastest vehicle that they laid off half of the employees in my office, reorganized management, and flew the some of us out to California to meet our new team.

One of my colleagues recently shared an article with me that studied the relationship between software architecture and organizational structure. It described that the two were strongly related. Bureaucratic organizations often produce unfocused and complex software, whereas small teams produce simple software. After driving the Chrysler 200 for a week, I’m fairly certain that this theory can be applied to automotive engineering.

Exterior

Parked in the Hertz section of the parking garage at San Francisco International Airport, the inoffensively styled Chrysler 200 easily blends into the rental fleet.

I get the impression that the design team was a large committee heavily influenced by focus groups. The body of the Chrysler 200 has no overlying theme or characteristics. It features nothing noteworthy; it is completely neutral. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being boring (I’m drinking a glass of unsweetened, decaffeinated iced tea right now). It just feels as if no one cared when building the Chrysler 200.

Interior

Inside the 200 are a variety of plastics: hard, grey, soft, grey, smooth, grey, textured, black, grey, fake chrome, and grey. I think Bill from accounting chose the interior materials while he was playing Farm Ville with the woman he met on ChristianMingle.com.

There are plenty of places to keep your personal effects in the cabin. Given the size of the car it is very possible that there could be more storage. But that would have required engineering effort.

Another complaint: the housing for the rear-view mirror was notably chunky. Outward visibility was hindered.

Acceleration

Acceleration is slow and jerky due to the nine-speed transmission.

Passing on the highway is difficult. With a different transmission, I think the 200 car would actually be pretty quick.

Braking

They worked — I didn’t crash into the back of a bus. Crashing into the back of the bus would be interesting. The Chrysler 200 is not.

Ride

The Chrysler 200 is comfortable. I wouldn’t mind being a passenger in one for a long trip.

Handling

Average mid-sized car handing for an average mid-sized car. Average.

Gearbox

The nine-speed gearbox was programmed by a software engineering intern from UC-something. She was hired by her aunt.

In her few months at Chrysler, the intern figured out how to work with input data from the engine, but not from the accelerator. As a result the Chrysler 200 likes to stay in the highest gear possible.

At wide-open throttle, downshifts come after a delay. Each gear is selected in order, none are skipped. This makes it difficult to safely get over to the HOV lane.

Additionally, the selector (which is called Rotary E-Shift) is a rotating knob on the center console. It’s unintuitive and very frustrating to use when making a three-point turn. It’s a gimmick from the marketing department.

Audio

The Chrysler 200 has a good stereo with easy-to-use Bluetooth.

Unfortunately, that allows your co-workers to play More Than a Feeling on repeat, while singing along. Also, they only know four words to the song: “more than a feeling”.

Toys

The Chrysler 200 has proximity keys. It’s nice to be able to leave my keys in my backpack, especially when you have two fobs, an ID tag, and a Macy’s advertisement on your rental set of keys.

As mentioned earlier, the 200 features Bluetooth. Paring devices is easy and intuitive. It was much easier than I experienced in other cars.

There aren’t many toys in this rental-spec car. There are several blank switches to point that out. Does an electric parking break count as a toy if your passenger kept threatening to pull it?

Value

The Chrysler 200 is a poor effort, designed by a large group of people who exerted minimal effort while waiting for 5:00 PM.

There are just too many other options to deem the Chrysler 200 a good value. Buy almost any other mid-size sedan instead, especially the Mazda 6.

Value is subjective. I can only think of two cases where a buyer would choose a Chrysler 200 over the competition: the potential buyer works for FCA and worked on the committee that produced the Chrysler 200, or the potential buyer wants a new car but can only afford a mid-size sedan if it’s financed for 96 months.