“With four distinct trim levels, the Chrysler 200 can match the wherewithal of many pocketbooks while employing the latest in safety and technology to deliver an affordable upscale driving experience…”
by Rob Rothwell
You can pay a fortune for a premium brand but you needn’t break the bank to buy wheels with style.
Chrysler 200 (starting MSRP $19,945)
Chrysler stunned the marketplace with the introduction of its completely new 200 Sedan, resetting benchmarks for style, panache, and performance within a fiercely competitive segment. And with a starting MSRP of just $19,945, the 200 undercuts many of its competitors, yet its real strength is found in its range of trim levels and power options. The base engine is a 2.4L four-cylinder affair that feeds 184 horsepower to the front wheels through a segment-exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission. Going upscale in the 200 brings with it Chrysler’s powerful 295 horsepower Pentastar 3.6L V6 engine paired with the nine-speed autobox and all-wheel-drive traction. Standard features include eight airbags, Keyless Enter ‘n Go, and Chrysler’s Uconnect 3.0 multimedia centre. Options include Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, and Active Park Assist. With four distinct trim levels, the Chrysler 200 can match the wherewithal of many pocketbooks while employing the latest in safety and technology to deliver an affordable upscale driving experience.
2.4L I-4 10.2L/6.4L100km city/highway
3.6L V6 12.4L/7.5L100km city/highway
Acura TLX (base MSRP $34,900)
The four-door Acura TLX Sedan replaces the former TSX and TL sport sedans, merging their respective strengths into a single product positioned as the brand’s mid-level contender. With a base sticker of $34,900, the TLX delivers plenty of sport-inspired luxury built around a 206 horsepower 2.4L four-cylinder power plant fused to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Propulsion is directed frontward unless the V6 Technology Package and Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system with torque vectoring are opted for. In which case, all four wheels share in 290 horsepower produced by the 3.5L SOHC i-VTEC mill. A sophisticated nine-speed automatic transmission further contributes to the engaging performance of the V6-powered TLX. In addition to a more rigid body structure, the TLX provides increased safety and collision avoidance with the use of technology such as Jewel Eye LED headlights, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, and Blind Spot Information with Cross Traffic Warning. Comfort and convenience essentials include the availability of premium 10-speaker audio along with voice-activated navigation.
2.4L I-4 9.6L/6.6L/100km city/highway
3.5L V6 11.2L/6.9L/100km city/highway
Audi A3 (base MSRP $31,100)
Looking remarkably like the highly successful Audi A4 Sedan despite casting a shadow 245mm shorter, the new A3 Sedan is sure to capture the attention of entry-level Audi buyers that scorn the A3’s hatchback design despite the vehicle’s praiseworthy driving dynamics and general practicality. Pricing for the new A3 Sedan starts at $31,100 with the 170 horsepower 1.8L TFSI I-4 power plant turning the front wheels through the auspices of Audi’s six-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. Upping the ante to $35,900 secures a 220 horsepower 2.0L TFSI I-4 connected to all four corners via Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive technology. Diesel power is also available in the A3 Sedan, though paired only with front-wheel-drive. Option combinations include Audi’s Styling Package, Navigation Package, and their sport-oriented S line Package. Audi has always been a technology leader, and the A3 Sedan shares in that reputation with a vast array of onboard safety and protection systems.
Fuel Economy: TBD
Mercedes-Benz C 300 Sedan – C400 Sedan (base MSRP C 300 $43,000 – C400 $51,400)
Despite slotting beneath the venerable E-Class in the Mercedes-Benz hierarchy of sedans, the new C-Class Sedan takes on a notably formal appearance and a more upscale demeanor for 2015. It’s also lighter and more powerful thanks to the extensive use of aluminum and a pair of revised engines. The C 300 receives a turbocharged 2.0L I-4 power plant capable of 241 horsepower. Need more oomph? A 3.0L twin-turbo V6 places 329 horsepower under the hood of the C 400. Both engines feed all four wheels through Mercedes-Benz’s 4MATIC all-wheel-drive technology. The sole use of 4MATIC is a Canadian-market exclusive. Along with new sheet metal and a lavishly-appointed cabin, the C-Class is equipped with the latest generation of COMMAND by Mercedes-Benz. This highly sophisticated infotainment/navigation system is lifted directly from the S-Class flagship. Audiophiles will appreciate the availability of Burmester surround-sound audio components, which are hand-made in Germany.
C 300 10.9L/7.5L/100km city/highway
C 400 11.1L/8.4L/100km city/highway
BMW 228i – M235i (base MSRP 228i $36,000 – M235i $48,750)
Reminiscent of the legendary 1968 BMW 2002 Coupe, today’s 228i and M235i Coupes combine the outstanding driving dynamics of the stubby BMW 1-Series Coupe, which they replace, with a sleeker, more aggressive interpretation of the iconic brand’s ethos. The 228i is the tamer of the pair, but with 241 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, its 2.0L twin-turbocharged I-4 engine delivers highly spirited performance nonetheless. If outright exhilaration is the target, the M235i is the ticket. Its twin-turbocharged 3.0L I-6 mill produces 322 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of endless torque. For true driver-oriented motoring, both vehicles can be fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox in place of the new 8-speed automatic transmission. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive traction is also available, but can only be paired with the automatic transmission. With the availability of a manual gearbox backed by a choice of turbocharged power plants, the new BMW 2-Series may just be the “ultimate driving machine.”
228i 9.1L/5.6L/100km city/highway
M235i 11.2L/7.1L/100km city/highway
Used prices are reasonable, from a buyer perspective, and there appears to be a good supply of sedans, but not too many convertibles, out there for sale…
The Chrysler 200 was introduced for the 2011 model year and replaced the outgoing Sebring.
It’s available as a mid-sized sedan, with coupe-like styling and a roomy interior, as a hard or soft top convertible with two doors and four seats.
The 200 is based on the same chassis as the outgoing Sebring but came with revised suspension geometry, stiffer body mounts, a raised roll centre, new sway bars and a wider rear track to improve both its ride and handling. There were also extensive upgrades to reduce cabin noise and these included acoustic lamination of the front door windows and windshield.
The 2011 edition of 200 came in base LX, Touring, Limited and top-line S trim levels. The base engine is a 173-horsepower, 2.4-litre, 16-valve four-cylinder. A carry-over engine from Sebring, it provides good low-end torque, decent fuel economy and is mated with a reliable four-speed automatic. City/highway fuel economy is 9.9/6.7 L/100km. Even the LX edition of the 200 comes with a very good equipment package that includes a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock system, remote keyless entry with a security alarm, power windows, locks and mirrors (heated) and air conditioning.
The optional and newer 3.6-litre (Pentastar) V6 was a powertrain offering that came with a six-speed automatic. A quieter and smoother performer than the four-cylinder, this V6 can effortlessly produce 283 horsepower. Highway fuel economy (6.8 L/100km) is also impressive and almost the same as the base four-cylinder. Its city rating, however, is 11.0 L/100km.
The Chrysler 200 Convertible was available with the choice of two automatic-latching power tops. There’s a light-weight fabric-top with a glass back window or a (body colour) fully-retractable steel hard-top. Both types of folding top can also be lowered or raised remotely via the owner’s key fob, which is a neat feature.
In addition to being less expensive, the fabric-top is more compact when folded and allows more cargo space in the trunk. The hard-top, on the other hand, can provide a quieter cabin for occupants while driving and it’s more secure when parked.
Active safety improved with the addition of both electronic stability control and traction control systems as standard equipment in all editions for the 2012 model year. Otherwise, the 200 was unchanged. Some new paint choices were added for the 2013 model year, but other than that the 200 was again unchanged.
The 200 comes with an up-to-date complete passive safety package and its crash safety test ratings have been top-notch, both for the sedan and the convertible. In fact, the sedan achieved “Top Safety Pick” status with the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
Consumer Reports rates the 200 as “below average” for predicted reliability, “above average” for owner satisfaction and “average” for owner costs. Used prices are reasonable, from a buyer perspective, and there appears to be a good supply of sedans, but not too many convertibles, out there for sale.
The Limited trim level (see price check chart) visually adds 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, dual exhaust tailpipes and inside upgrades include leather-faced seats. Like most Chrysler products the 200 offers high content and value, and it’s a good looking car.
Price Check: 2011 – 2013 Chrysler 200 (June 2014)
Year Edition Expect to Pay Today
2011 200 Limited (sedan) $13,000 to $16,000
2011 200 Limited (convertible) $18,000 to $22,000
2012 200 Limited (sedan) $16,000 to $19,000
2012 200 Limited (convertible) $21,000 to $25,000
2013 200 Limited (sedan) $19,000 to $23,000
2013 200 Limited (convertible) $26,000 to $31,000
*Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.
Safety Recalls: 2011 & 2012 Chrysler 200:
2011: A pivot rivet on the steering column may be missing or incorrectly installed and this increases the risk of driver injury in a crash. Dealers will inspect for steering column rivet presence and alignment, and repair as required.
2011/2012/2013: The airbag warning lamp may illuminate due to an electrical fault within the Occupant Restraint Control (ORC) module and the Active Head Restraints may not deploy during a rear impact collision. Dealers will reprogram the Totally Integrated Power Module or replace the ORC module, as required.
2012: The 3.6 litre V6 engine may have debris in the cylinder block from the manufacturing process and this could cause connecting rod bearing and crankshaft bearing damage. Dealers will replace the engine assembly.
2013: Certain vehicles may experience fuel leakage or engine stall due to a broken control valve in the fuel tank assembly. Dealers will inspect and if the control valve is damaged, the fuel tank assembly and vapour canister will be replaced.
2013: Some vehicles equipped with the 2.4 litre engine may experience a loss of oil pressure and subsequent engine failure. Dealers will replace the balance shaft module.
The 200 is not a new nameplate for Chrysler but the 2015 model is all-new from the ground up… (more…)