Used Vehicle Review: Chrysler 200, 2015-2017

Vehicle Type

Generous feature content for the money, smooth and punchy V6 power, and an upscale cabin.

Mid-size luxury sedan

History/Description

The totally redesigned latest-generation of the Chrysler 200 hit the road in 2014, and a short sales life saw this well-equipped and stylish upscale sedan stick around for just a few years before being given the axe. Selection was generous, with four- and six-cylinder engines available, as well as front- or all-wheel drive.

Look for Touring, Limited, Limited Platinum, 200C, and 200S model variants, depending on the year in question. The 200S was geared towards a sportier driver after a value-bundled selection of athletic chassis and styling tweaks, while the Limited/Platinum models were intended to take the 200’s feature content offerings to as upscale a level as possible.

All models were four-door, five-seat sedans, and equipment included adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning system, a dial shifter, premium audio system provisions, a full driver display readout, touchscreen navigation, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, automatic lights, remote start, and more. The 200S offered up plenty of feature content bang for the buck, attracting many shoppers in the process.

Engines

The Chrysler 200’s four-cylinder engine was a 2.4-litre Tigershark unit with 184 horsepower, while the available 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 put a generous 295 horsepower on offer. The AWD system featured axle disconnect (a fuel-saving feature), and was only available on V6-powered models. All units got a nine-speed automatic. A driver-selectable Sport mode could be engaged, to reconfigure various sub-systems for sportier driving dynamics, even re-distributing power from the AWD system, if equipped, towards that goal.

What Owners Like

Owner reviews point towards selection, generous feature content for the money, smooth and punchy V6 power, and an upscale cabin as the prime reasons that shoppers considered the Chrysler 200. Good brakes, good headlights, and a straightforward central command touchscreen interface round out the package.

What Owners Dislike

Some owners wish for more rear-seat headroom, and complain of some difficulty when it comes to boarding and exiting the 200’s rear seats on account of small and awkwardly shaped door openings. The transmission is said to be sluggish and clumsy at times, depending on the driving style, too.

Here are some owner reviews.

Pro Tip

Which engine? Based on our research, it seems like the V6 might be the way to go. In this (and other) applications, owners have complained of various issues with the four-cylinder Tigershark powerplant, including some issues caused by their own failure to properly and regularly check oil levels, which can lead to serious problems. In several reviews of other FCA models, the Pentastar V6 engine seems likely to be the more trouble-free powerplant option for the long-haul, and we’d expect that to be the same here.

The Test Drive

Oil Levels

Though regular and frequent checks of engine oil level are important for any vehicle at any stage of its life, they’re especially important on copies of the Chrysler 200 with the 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine. In this and other applications, the owner’s community notes that this powerplant may consume higher-than-expected amounts of engine oil between oil changes, whether by design or not. As this engine’s unique valve timing system is directly driven by oil pressure, a built-in failsafe may cause the engine to turn itself off spontaneously, to prevent damage to the system if oil levels drop too low.

Though this issue has been called a design defect by many owners (and identified incorrectly as a sporadic stalling problem blamed on a half-dozen other things), it often is the result of triggering the failsafe system. Hence, this problem relates more to owner maintenance practices than to the engine itself.

Here’s some more reading. The gist? If you’re not a shopper willing to check and adjust your vehicle’s engine oil level on a (roughly) weekly basis, skip this engine and go with the V6.

Battery

Have the 200’s battery and charging system inspected before you buy, and budget to have the battery replaced if it doesn’t pass the test with flying colours. A weak or dying battery can cause issues with various vehicle systems, including the 200’s Engine Start/Stop (ESS) system, which may lead to unwanted stalling, or the inability of the engine to restart itself when needed. Ensuring your new-to-you 200 has a healthy and fresh battery can go a long way to preventing unwanted problems.

Transmission

If the transmission in the 200 you’re considering exhibits any strange behaviour, possibly including symptoms like those highlighted in this video, be sure to have a dealer investigate before you buy. Rough shifting, failure of the dial shifter to switch between gears, limited acceleration or power, or any displayed warning messages relating to the transmission should be taken as cause for a professional assessment.

Several factors may lead to transmission problems with this vehicle, including an overheat condition caused by a bad thermostat, corrupted transmission computer software, or a loose, disconnected or damaged wiring harness. In any case, at the first sign of transmission-related trouble, have a dealer investigate.

The fix may be simple, and involve reconnection of a loose wiring harness, or the installation of revised control software. In other cases, the fix may be a transmission replacement, which will be expensive if required out of warranty. Ask a dealer to run the VIN number of the unit you buy, to see if it’s affected by this recall, which may see affected vehicles unable to properly shift into “park”.

Here’s some more reading. Note that most reported issues relating to the 200’s transmission, in our research, occurred early during ownership, mainly on V6-powered models, and mainly on model year 2015 units. Though it’s unclear how many models were affected versus overall sales volume, budgeting for an extended warranty that covers the transmission is likely advisable.

Check the Recalls

Work with a Chrysler dealership to determine if the 200 you’re considering is affected by the power distribution center recall (also detailed by Transport Canada here). If it is, have the recall work performed as quickly as possible. The issue relates to a possible manufacturing defect in the wiring harness and computer network of the 200, and may contribute to the other issues, listed above. Note that this recall only applies to 2015 model year units. Having this recall work performed (if it hasn’t been already) is key to reducing potential headaches and safety risks if you’re set on a 2015 Chrysler 200.

A full list of recalls can be found here.

Dealers can use the VIN number of the model you’re considering to determine which, if any, recall work is outstanding. Make arrangements to have any outstanding recall work carried out as quickly as possible.

Other Useful Checks

Climate Control

Though reports are fairly rare and sporadic, some owners have reported failure of the climate control system to properly maintain the selected temperature and distribution of air, as per their settings. Confirm that the climate control system works as expected on all settings, and have a dealer technician investigate if this isn’t the case. Depending on the cause, the out-of-warranty expense to repair the climate control system can be expensive – so be sure to obtain an estimate and call it into your pricing negotiations.

Unwelcome Noises

Some owners have reported a grinding or groaning sound from beneath the vehicle, which may be more prominent or obvious at certain speeds. Listen closely to the 200 you’re considering while you drive at low, moderate, and highway speeds, transitioning between each slowly. If any unwelcome sound (possibly accompanied by an unwelcome vibration) is apparent, the likely culprit is worn wheel bearings, or possibly, a damaged wheel rim. Further assessment from a dealer technician is advised. Here’s some more reading on both of the above.

The Verdict

A unique set of problems, largely attached to a unique set of powertrains and model years, mean shoppers set on a used Chrysler 200 are best advised to limit their selection to a 2016 or 2017 model with V6 power. From that basis, work with a dealership to confirm that all software updates, recall work, and maintenance are up to date, for maximum peace of mind. For minimized likelihood of headaches, buying a 2015 Chrysler 200 is not advised.

Crash Test Results

IIHS: Top Safety Pick + (2017)
NHTSA: 4/5 Stars

Extra scrutiny advised. 12/13/2018 6:28:00 AM