The Chrysler 200: A Premium Car with a Not-So Premium Price

Kyle Hovanec

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There’s a lot of options available for those looking for a moderately priced family car. However with affordability, often comes a sacrifice in style, with the sleek lines and fancy profiles reserved for luxury models rather than modestly priced roadsters.

With the Chrysler 200, trading functionality for aesthetics is no longer an issue, as the 2015 Chrysler 200 combines the sleek designs found on a luxury sedan with the functionality and affordability that sets it apart from its peers.

The Life Team was recently given the opportunity to test drive the 2015 Chrysler 200 courtesy of LaPorte Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. Matt Magnuson, one of the owners of LaPorte Chrysler allowed the Life Team test drive the 200 for one week, taking it everywhere from business meetings in South Bend to social events in Portage. By test driving it for a week, we were able to get a detailed and immersive experience about what makes the car so great, specifically for NWI residents.

chrysler200chris2When Fiat merged with Chrysler, their goal was to jumpstart the auto lineup that mainly consisted of aging minivans and sedans. With the release of the updated Chrysler 200, the car brought to the table more options for functionality and style that outclassed other sedans in the same category.

The 200 features a standard 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir II four-cylinder engine capable of delivering 184 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque. By utilizing a function called MultiAir technology, it helps to increase low engine torque, improve engine efficiency and reduce harmful emissions to the environment. An even more powerful engine option, the 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine is also available offering 295 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. The 200 also features an automatic all-wheel drive that automatically detects changing road conditions and adapts to them.  Both options were able to provide more than enough power and stability to travel the sometimes treacherous winter roads of Northwest Indiana. During out test drive, we ran into snowstorms both when picking up and dropping off the car, with both times offering incredibly smooth and safe experiences despite our different levels of experience with the car.

One of the most notable features of the Chrysler besides its stylish exterior is how it handled with all kinds of roads and distance driving. Whether driving on the highways or navigating local town streets, the Chrysler 200 navigated it all with ease, all while providing a smooth and comfortable ride.

chrysler200interiorIt’s not just outside, but the inside that impressed us as well. The interior features a stylish dashboard that wraps around the driver, allowing for ease of use and access. The 200 also features a large and configurable LCD screen which allows for easy navigation of menus. For a class of car that typically features interiors with the personality of a waiting room, the 200 reminded us more of an elegant European sedan than a typical family car.

Standard on most 2015 Chrysler 200 models, the high 5 inch touch screen came with SiriusXM Satellite Radio, voice command, Bluetooth streaming audio and a media center compatible for a multitude of our mobile devices for quick and easy integration.

The 200 features a push button start, which also was able to control the 200’s climate control, along with electronic shifting, extending the philosophy of comfort and elegant design to all aspects of the driving experience. Whether you’re driving around town, taking a trip or running errands, we found that the 200 provided a comfortable and ultimately enjoyable experience we’re not typically used to when it comes to cost effective family sedans.

chrysler200chris4Chrysler is currently running a program aimed at giving new drivers affordable options when purchasing the 200. There are plans that include 0% financing for 7 years, along with $500 off the purchase of the car. Not only does this drop the monthly costs of the car, but it also gives plenty of incentive for drivers looking for buying options.

Working with Matt was an enjoyable experience. Not only was he enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the 200, Matt and his team are also dedicated to being outstanding community members through their support of local school teams and non-profits. Matt is proud of what Chrysler has done to the 200, and he takes great joy in letting the customer share his joy behind the wheel.

We feel that the Chrysler 200 is simply put, a premium car in looks and performance for not-so-premium price. Its stylish design both inside and outside sets it apart from other family sedans while the technology within the car seems to be tailor made for unpredictable Indiana driving and all the weather conditions it may bring.

For those interested in the Chrysler 200, be sure to pay a visit to LaPorte Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. Tell Matt that the Life people sent you. He’ll be more than happy to make your visit a pleasant and memorable one.

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New Face for the 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited in Chicago

2015, ram, 1500, laramie, limited

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited

Ram is introducing a new look for the luxurious 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The Laramie Limited is the most luxurious package that you can select on any Ram pickup truck. Ram is giving this nameplate an update for the 2015 model year. The most obvious change are the grille and the tailgate.

The traditional “cross-hair” grille is no more. Ram is trying a new design direction by spelling out its name and going for a new grille layout. The spelled out name is a new trend across the industry. Toyota is doing it with the TRD Pro truck lineup, and Ford is doing it with the Raptor.

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4

The tailgate gets huge letters finished in chrome. These is same tailgate stamping as with the Ram Rebel, but the Laramie Limited is also getting an underlying chrome trim.

There is a Limited badge on the front door and a new wheel design.

Any crew cab configuration of the Ram 1500 can be ordered with the Laramie Limited package. It comes with air suspension, full-length side steps, heated steering wheel, ventilated and header seats, and more.

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited

The interior is a luxurious exercise of black and silver. Ram is taking the current cabin and ratchets the ambiance up with Black Natura Plus leather and high-gloss Black Argento wood.

Chrysler Turbine Car on display in Toronto

Chrysler-63TurbineCar-Web

A 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car will make an appearance at the 2015 Canadian International Auto Show which opens tomorrow.

One of three in the the Chrysler collection, and one of four currently in running condition, the Turbine Bronze car is part of the Art and the Automobile historic vehicle exhibit.

“The Chrysler Turbine program began in 1954 – in the supersonic jet airplane age -and lasted until 1981,” said Brandt Rosenbusch, Manager of Historical Vehicles – FCA US. “Like today, the company was exploring alternative propulsion solutions and to prove the engine’s flexibility, even ran them on perfume and alcohol – aside from the ‘standard’ JP-4 Jet Fuel. We have not shipped the car to Canada in the 25 years I have been here.”

CIAS General Manager, Jason Campbell said: “The exhibit traces the artistic progression of vehicle design through the decades and the Chrysler Turbine Car is a great example of the transition period from the chrome-plated, aircraft- and rocket-influenced designs of the ’50s to the more pure forms of the ’60s, as it includes elements of both. Besides which, it is a very pretty and historically important car.”

A total of 50 Chrysler Turbine Cars were built between 1963 and 1964. Most of the vehicles were loaned to members of the general public for a three month trial period.

At the end of the evaluation period all but nine of these cars were scrapped. Of the nine remaining, three were kept by Chrysler Corp. while others are at the Detroit Historical, the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles, as well as in the Blackhawk Collection, Jay Leno’s collection and a private owner in Indiana.

The CIAS runs from February 13-22 in the North and South Buildings of the Metro Toronto Convention Center located at 255 Front Street West in Toronto, Ontario.

Multi-Colored Psychedelic Dodge SRT Viper GTC 1-of-1 On Show In Chicago

Looks absolutely spectacular.
Dodge wants to remind buyers of the extreme levels of customization available for the Viper, so brought along a “1-of-1” 2015 Viper GTC to the Chicago Auto Show covered in a multitude of different hues on each side. The stunning finish is complemented by different colored alloys – black on the driver’s side, gunmetal gray on the other – and we assume the Viper on display boasts an equally distinctive interior.
Multi-Colored Psychedelic Dodge SRT Viper GTC 1-of-1 On Show In Chicago
After all, in addition to offering 8,000 color options, 24,000 custom stripes, ten wheel options, and six aero packages, Dodge also has 16 interior trims to choose from. In fact, there’s a total of 25 million possible combinations. This is just one of them. Those wanting a one-off Viper will have to stump up an extra $10,000, with a Viper GTC starting from $94,995 compared to the $84,995 for the base GT. That’s a small price to pay for exclusivity, right?
Multi-Colored Psychedelic Dodge SRT Viper GTC 1-of-1 On Show In Chicago
Multi-Colored Psychedelic Dodge SRT Viper GTC 1-of-1 On Show In Chicago
Multi-Colored Psychedelic Dodge SRT Viper GTC 1-of-1 On Show In Chicago
Multi-Colored Psychedelic Dodge SRT Viper GTC 1-of-1 On Show In Chicago
Multi-Colored Psychedelic Dodge SRT Viper GTC 1-of-1 On Show In Chicago

Ram ProMaster City: A little cargo van that could

Dan Neil

After driving a string of silent luxury beasts, I welcome the 2015 Ram ProMaster City as a chance to recalibrate. Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) knocks these things out like lawn mowers in Bursa, Turkey, and nothing about this vehicle—a near nut-and-bolt twin of Fiat’s compact van, the Doblo—speaks to what one would call a soul.

And yet, what an awesome thing to have around. You know who likes it? The dogs. The little van’s 60/40 side-hinge rear doors open to 180 degrees, and the load floor is knee level to me (21.5 inches), so the dogs can just walk on. They like it way better than a crate on the roof.

Even in the “wagon” configuration I drove with the rear bench seat (as opposed to “cargo van”), the rear load floor is 48.4 inches wide between the wheel wells, 4 feet high, and nearly 4 or 6 feet long (rear seats up or folded). If you have a little bluegrass quartet on the side, this thing would be perfect for gigging within a radius of about 200 miles.

Among other items I piled into our blaring-red test vehicle ($29,275 as tested): two toilets in their boxes and six 8-foot 2x8s; on another occasion, an old tool chest taken out of a full-size service vehicle. That’s right: I’m building a bathroom with two toilets.

I would like to take this opportunity to push back against the growing ridiculousness of vehicle names. Do we really have to call it the Ram ProMaster City? You know, they laughed at Marianne Moore when she proposed the model name Utopian Turtletop, but if you ask me that’s a much better name than the irony-impaired masculinity of Ram ProMaster City. Talk about loaded.

What about the name Doblo? No way anyone could make fun of that.

If FCA has a global strength it’s the building of ugly but useful multipurpose and commercial cargo vans. The benchmark was the first-generation Fiat Multipla (1998-2004), with its multiple vestigial eyes, hydrocephalic canopy, and face like a subterranean cave fish. It really was a triumph.

The Doblo/ProMaster isn’t quite the lanced boil that the Multipla was. But, wow. Moving on.

You could fire the RPC out of a cannon and no one would believe it was exceeding the speed limit. It may be too ugly to register on radar.

Why has the RPC—that’s better—intruded on your day? Blame Ford. In 2009, in an unusually frisky move for the council of cardinals, Ford brought its global workhorse Transit Connect to the U.S. The TC scratched an itch nobody knew we had: a compact van with a fuel-efficient front-wheel drive powertrain, aimed at an expanding commercial and entrepreneurial class. They should have really named that one the Lower Operating Costs.

In short order, Nissan joined the compact-van fray with the NV200, winner of the New York’s Taxi of Tomorrow contest in 2011. GM sells a rejiggered version of the NV200 as the City Express.

In any event, it is a category of many names: compact panel van and wagon (with seats); compact minivan and multipurpose vehicle (MPV). You get the idea. The key metrics here are the square footage of the load floor and overall cargo capacity, starting with the de minimis size of a standard pallet, 4x4x4 feet.

If the Transit Connect is the target, the RPC pretty thoroughly ventilates it. The RPC claims to best the Ford in total cargo volume (128.6 cubic feet for the cargo van with the front seat up, vs. 130 with the long-wheelbase TC). The RPC is also a little draft pony: Ram claims unsurpassed towing capacity (2,000 pounds, with a recommended maximum 200 pounds on the tongue); heaviest payload (1,883 pounds, or 1,700 in wagon trim); and matches the segment’s best, Ford’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost l-4 engine with 178 horsepower, all while returning 29 mpg on the highway.

This is an example of schlocky global badge engineering that turns out to be a good thing. Because, instead of going with the spread of smaller diesel- and gas-powered engines available in the Doblo overseas—and in the interests of cost-saving commonality—FCA FCA, +0.30%  blessed the RPC with its best off-the-shelf powertrain: the naturally aspirated, port-injected 2.4-liter Tigershark Multiair four, paired with the nine-speed automatic front transaxle. This is the same running gear as in the Chrysler 200 and Jeep Cherokee. The RPC is certainly the world’s homeliest vehicle with a slick, nine-speed transmission.

The nine-speed automatic pays off in a couple ways and penalizes a bit in one. First, because there is an abundance of gear ratios, the first and second gears are allowed to be quite short for strong initial acceleration. Ram claims the truck can hit 0-30 mph in 3.7 seconds. This is for those Type A florists. From green light to red light, in those two gears, this thing really does scoot, and the rising effort of the four-banger seemed unstrained, even enthusiastic, in part thanks to the nifty balance shaft tucked in its innards.

There’s a lot for mom and dad to love in the RPC, starting with two sliding doors with oversize latches, and a rear bench seat with easily accessible Isofix connectors for child safety seats.

With the nine-speed, separate gear changes are crisply attained and the tranny doesn’t emit the pitch-bending drone of a CVT as it reaches highway speeds. However, our test RPC did have a bit of a resonance drone in eighth gear (!) at 1,500 rpm and 45 mph, when it almost seemed the naturally aspirated mill was lugging.

There is a separate gate in the floor-mounted gear selector that allows you to manually shift through the nine gears, but there’s a lot of frantic back-and-forth hand gesturing that I would rather not see end up on closed-circuit video.

I have to say, after driving a lot of fast cars, one develops a bit of a persecution complex regarding the law. Even if you are not speeding in a Corvette, you look like you are. However, you could fire the RPC out of a cannon and no one would believe it was exceeding the speed limit. It may be too ugly to register on radar.

Not a lot of civilians are going to buy one of these things, although they may well rent one for a day or two. And yet, looking around the RPC, there’s a lot for mom and dad to love, starting with two sliding doors with oversize latches, and a rear bench seat with easily accessible Isofix connectors for child safety seats. And while the bird cage itself is pretty small, the driver’s perch is elevated, with upright driver posture and good outward views. Everyday drivability is quite pleasant.

Actually, the RPC is a portfolio of steal-able ideas. Have other auto makers seen these large, effortless door latches with integrated auto locking? To unlock, pull up. Brilliant. Also, there are two 12V outlets between the seats, as well as a USB port and auxiliary jack input, for plenty of onboard devices. This category is designed for dense urban environments, as the name City suggests. This fact highlights RPC’s biggest functional deficit—an epic turning radius.

Holy mackerel does this thing turn wide—so wide, in fact, that I got out my surveyor’s tape to measure. The RPC turns in a circle of about 40 feet in diameter, which is a fairly significant disadvantage in terms of wieldiness. Whatever city you are operating in, you better hope there are no acute angles.

All-new 2015 Chrysler 200S AWD: Italian Flair and All-American features

2015 Chrysler 200s

The 2015 Chrysler 200 debuts a beautiful exterior design featuring the new “face” of the Chrysler brand. The 200 is a sleek, Euro styled sedan with an exquisitely crafted interior. New for 2015 is a segment-first nine-speed automatic transmission and an Alfa Romeo-based chassis. With the choice of two world-class engines, an innovative all-wheel-drive system, available sport mode and paddle shifters the all-new Chrysler 200 is a pleasing, fun to drive car.

The base engine for the Chrysler 200 is a 2.4-litre Fiat sourced MultiAir 2 Tigershark inline four-cylinder with 184 hp and 173 lb/ft of torque. The bigger engine is the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 with 295-horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque.

Our tester was a Vivid Blue Pearl painted 200S AWD sedan and had a base price of $31,495 The interior of the 200S is extremely impressive, with a smart, integrated, very polished look. The quality of the plastics, interior trim, buttons, knobs and switches just seem to get better with Chrysler now.The seats are attractive cloth bottomed, leather backed numbers with the ‘S’ logo embroidered on the backrests. They offer good thigh and lumbar support. The drivers- seat is power operated on the S.

The dash is also very cool with stunning blue liquid lighting background for the major instrument and fuel gauge and highly legible readouts. The big control buttons and knobs are ergonomically excellent. The big screen atop the center stack also controls audio, HVAC and the heated seats and steering wheel. It also doubles as the screen for the rear reversing camera. The voice-activated Garmin-based nav system, like everything else is easy to figure out and use.

Most impressive is the transmission shift-lever has been replaced by an elegant rotary knob. No clunky, space eating gear shift here! Talking of space, there are tons of little cubbyholes, pockets and compartments for all kind of everyday items.

The rear cabin is equally well finished and seat legroom is decent, but headroom is slightly compromised due to the sloping roofline. The trunk is big, well finished and has a low lift over for heavy items.

With a chassis based on a European Alfa Romeo, there are some European traits on the road – all good I am happy to report with a firm, yet comfortable ride and exemplary handling. The test vehicle was a line-topping S AWD model with the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6. With 295-horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque it is one the most powerful engines in this sector. The new nine-speed, ZF transmission is excellent. The extra gear rations help in acceleration and response and help with achieving impressive fuel economy features. The S (Sport) model offers steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and is activated in. Sport Safety is very high on the 200S. In mid 2014- The US based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) t named the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan a 2014 Top Safety Pick +, its highest rating, when equipped with front crash prevention.

To sum up the new Chrysler 200 is an extremely impressive sedan in the very competitive family-class segment. With a starting Canadian Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just $22,495, the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 is a sedan that customers will be proud to own, at a value they will appreciate.

The S model in particular with All Wheel Drive offers a blend of comfort sport and all weather traction in a competitive package. The options in our tester also show how much luxury, technology, convenience and safety can make a big difference to the driving experience. Very impressive and highly recommended.

2015 Chrysler 200S AWD Price as tested: base, $31,495; as tested, $38,815, including freight