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2015 revamped Chrysler 200 draws applause, debuts in showrooms this spring

If you ask Motor Trend writer Scott Burgess, the 2015 Chrysler 200 is finally living up to the model’s 2011 billing in that year’s Super Bowl commercial, which spotlighted Detroit and “perfectly mixed Motor City and Motown.”

As moving as that commercial was, as defining a moment as it provided, the vehicle it featured, according to Burgess, “was an absolutely awful machine destined for rental fleets and deep discounts at dealerships.”

But the 2015 Chrysler 200 rises above all that, and Burgess is delighted with its debut.

“The next-generation Chrysler 200…displayed at the North American Auto Show is even better than the original commercial,” he wrote earlier this month. “It’s also better than much of the midsize competition.

“It takes the best Chrysler has been developing and then breaks new ground.

“That is how you build a car.”

The new 200 takes its bow with Chrysler’s ZF-designed 9-speed automatic, an American-made innovation that improves fuel economy and enhances the driving experience; the 200S and 200C models are available with paddle shifters.

Front-wheel drive is standard; an optional AWD system allows for decoupling the rear axle for better fuel economy. Standard as well is a 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder engine fitted with Fiat’s MultiAir2 valve-lift technology, producing 184 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque. The upgrade is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 for 295 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque.

Chrysler says the front-wheel drive four-cylinder 200 delivers 35 mpg highway, which is in line with its competition.

The 200 is built on Chrysler-Fiat’s new Compact U.S. Wide (CUSW) platform, which you’ll find on the Dodge Dart and 2014 Jeep Cherokee. The resulting stiffer body makes for better performance and more comfortable ride.

Burgess is not crazy about the silhouette, but he applauds the other exterior features and gives a standing ovation to the interior improvements.

“This is a thoughtful interior, ergonomically designed with luxury features sprinkled throughout.”

The new 200 starts at $22,695, including destination charges – and that’s actually less than last year’s model. Look for it to debut in showrooms this spring.