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2015 Chrysler 200
The 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan is considerably revamped.

Prices: $21,800-$30,525

The revamped 2015 Chrysler 200 promises to give Chrysler more of a much-needed upscale image.

In the 1950s, Chrysler sedans were comparable to Buicks and Oldsmobiles. They all  were more prestigious than Pontiac and Chevrolet sedans. But Chryslers never topped Cadillacs or Lincolns.

Oldsmobile and Pontiac are long gone, but Chrysler these days must battle more than Buick and other domestic sedans in the mid-size car market--America's largest for autos. The 200's rivals now are also from Asia and Europe.

The new, solidly built 200 should do much better with its upscale styling, refined interior, modern engines and a new transmission.

The 200 has a standard nine-speed automatic transmission, which helps it deliver an estimated, impressive (for a fairly large, heavy car) 36 miles per gallon on highways with its base, lively 2.4-liter, 184-horsepower four-cylinder, although that engine gets noisy during hard acceleration. The new automatic replaces four- and six-speed automatics.

The preferable engine is a smoother, quieter 3.6-liter, 295 horsepower V-6, which delivers considerably more punch and 29 estimated miles per gallon on highways--still a respectable figure. Estimated city fuel economy with the "four" is 23 highway but only 18 city with the V-6.

The automatic transmission had minor bugs when introduced, but they've apparently been fixed because my test 200 shifted nicely, controlled via a rotary gear selector on the console.

List prices for the 200 sedan (the convertible has been dropped) go from $21,800 to $30,525. I drove a higher-line $23,485 front-drive Limited model.

My test 200 had a good number of standard features in its stylish, quiet interior, which has gauges that can be quickly read and easily worked controls. It has a handy digital speedometer, besides its regular speedometer.

The Limited's standard features included air conditioning, a sound system with six speakers (four in the base model), steering wheel audio controls, remote USB port, audio jack input for mobile devices, tilt/telescopic wheel, 12-volt auxiliary power outlet in the console, keyless entry, cruise control and power windows.

Front seats are manually adjusted in the Limited, although my test 200 had an optional power driver's seat. The Limited really should have a standard power driver's seat.

Other key options for the 200 include leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, power sunroof, backup camera, dual-zone temperature control, remote start system, 8.4-inch touchscreen display and a nine-speaker audio system.

With all that often-desirable stuff, which comes in separate option packages, my test car's bottom-line price was $26,715, including a $995 destination charge. 

Standard safety items include plenty of air bags.

The 200 comes in a variety of trim levels and is offered with front-drive with the four-cylinder and all-wheel drive (AWD) with the V-6. The AWD system is from the Jeep Cherokee and uses front-drive mode most of the time, with the rear axle disconnected to lower friction losses. The AWD system is designed to provide help in bad weather.

So how does this car go? The electric steering is a bit stiff and numb, but is precise. The ride is compliant, easily soaking up potholes and bad bumps, but is on the firm side. Handling is nimble, helped by electronic stability and traction controls. And the anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist are strong, with good pedal feel.

The spacious trunk has a wide but rather high opening. It provides plenty of cargo room, and cargo space increases a lot with the rear seatbacks folded forward. However, they don't sit completely flat and the pass-through opening from the trunk to the backseat area isn't quite as large as it should be.

The 200 has become an above-average sedan. That's the way it used to be with the old Chrysler sedans.