I'm a life-long car dealer and auto enthusiast and I just spent a week with a 2015 Chrysler 200S in Nova Scotia. I put over 500 miles on the car in a range of conditions and thought I would share my i...
I'm a life-long car dealer and auto enthusiast and I just spent a week with a 2015 Chrysler 200S in Nova Scotia. I put over 500 miles on the car in a range of conditions and thought I would share my impressions with prospective buyers.
The short version is this: The car is very, very good and a significant step up from the previous model.
The long version: It's not perfect, but its few shortcomings might not matter to the average driver.
The car I drove was the "S" model with V6 engine, 9 speed trans with paddle shifters on steering wheel, heated seats and steering wheel, large touch screen display, satellite radio, leather/cloth power seats. In other words, pretty loaded but it didn't have navigation.
Pros: Interior ergonomics and storage, fuel economy, power, front seat comfort.
Cons: Numb steering, shifting delays when using paddle shifters, rear seat comfort, road noise.
My first impression with the car was road noise after I pulled out on the highway leaving the airport in Halifax. The wind noise was minimal all week, but some of the roads in NS were constructed with a pretty rough aggregate in the asphalt and the road noise came in the cabin at 70+ mph speeds. This could be the fault of the low-profile Nexen tires (I didn't note the size) and it's also possible this tire is only used on Canadian models. Whatever, this isn't a problem at slower speeds and smoother roads, and wind noise was non-existent.
I'll leave the reader to decide about exterior styling. For me, it's good but not great. I don't care for the front grille but the rest is fine. Wheels were very cool. I find the styling looks better in some colors than others.
The interior is great. The pass-through console provides lots of storage (and makes you wonder why this hasn't been done sooner), the center armrest/cupholder design is novel and radio/climate buttons are at your fingertips. As some reviewers have noted, the rotary shift knob saves lots of space and works great. This is a class-leading interior design, no question about it.
Radio and climate controls were easy to figure out within minutes and without referring to the manual. The same can't be said with the MyFord Touch system, that's for sure.
Rear seat comfort was a problem after a few hours on the road. Back-seaters complained of stiff bottom cushion which, interestingly, was worse on the driver side than the passenger side for some reason. If you don't regularly transport people for long periods of time, ignore this comment.
Power delivery was smooth and the trans performed well in normal driving.
Now my two major complaints: There is very little road feel through the steering wheel. I wish I had it on the Cabot Trail, and amazing winding road that hugs the ocean around the Cape Breton Highlands Provincial Park. Lots of turns, switchbacks, blind corners, inclines and declines. A great road for cars and motorcycles but the steering did not shine here. Again, many motorists might not care but it seriously detracted from what could have been an awesome experience.
The second complaint involves the manual paddle shifting. This could have been a big help in the hills on the Cabot Trail but you can't employ "engine braking" by downshifting into a corner. When downshifting, the car seems to pause briefly in "neutral" between gears and, as a result, the car seems to lurch forward like a dog getting off its leash. Believe me, this is not a good feeling when your goal was to slow down for a hairpin turn. When the downshift finally occurs the computer bumps up the engine revs to match your (now higher) speed. In other words, no appreciable deceleration for your corner. However, it should be noted that if you choose a lower gear and STAY in it for the twisty bits, engine braking works fine.
On flat and slightly hilly roads, the paddle shifting was useful and entertaining. I would consider this a "must have" option for driving enthusiasts and anyone living in a hilly area, even with present shortcomings.
Chrysler should work on the steering feel for next year's model and the trans shifting issue will likely improve with software advancements. This is a revolutionary, high-tech transmission and the development struggles are well known. If you have one of these, keep in touch with your dealer for updates they can download at your next oil change.