Up: Price, looks, heated steering wheel
Down: No longer in production, not very “S”porty
Neutral: Now is the time to scoop up a brand new, deeply discounted 200 S!
Recently, the alternator went out in my wife’s 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Since the engine bay is so small, and replacing the alternator requires removing part of the front axle, we (I) decided it was not something I wanted to do on my garage floor in the middle of winter. So we took it down to Billion Fiat in Sioux Falls, where they blessed us with this 2016 Chrysler 200 S for free while they repaired our car.
Now, a quick side not before I dive into the 200 S review: Wouldn’t it benefit a dealership to loan out the newer, fully loaded version of the customer’s car? A 2017 Fiat 500 Abarth may have coaxed us into a trade-in…
And back to the 2016 Chrysler 200 S. When this version of the car was revealed at the NAIAS in Detroit a few years ago, I thought it was the best looking mid-sized sedan on the market. It had cool LED running lights, an aggressive front bumper, sleek body lines, and a semi-fastback rear. Since my favorite full-sized sedan is an Audi A7 with the same type of tail end, I felt the new 200 had the correct recipe for greatness. I have since changed my mind.
The Chrysler 200 is a great car in its own right; especially if you’ve never owned or driven a car from 2010-on. And the 200 S is far superior to its base model. The S has nearly every piece of tech available at the time it was built, large sporty wheels, a sport mode, and plenty of “S” badges to let other 200 owners know who’s boss.
However, one thing drove me especially insane while having the 2016 Chrysler 200 S for a week: There is no discernible way to tell which 200 S trim you have. Seriously. Without popping the hood you’d never know which engine you have, and without checking the window options sticker you’d never know it was all-wheel-drive. A quick Google search of “2016 Chrysler 200 S” will tell you that you either have 184 or 295 horsepower, up to 23/36 city-highway mileage, and a car weighing anywhere from 3,473 to 3,795 lbs.
Here’s what I did find out after doing more research that I should have had to. The 2016 200 S came with two engine options; a 2.4 liter inline-4 Tigershark producing 184 horsepower or a 3.6 liter V6 Pentastar producing 295 horsepower. Both engines were available for the front-wheel-drive model. If you chose the all-wheel-drive model, the V6 was the only option and there is a small “AWD” badge included on the trunk. In my mind, an “S” model should always be the fastest and best handling so there shouldn’t even be a 4-cylinder, FWD option.
So how did it drive? Fine. We had the V6 Pentastar engine which really pulled at higher revs. Ours was also the FWD model but we didn’t have any issues in the snowy weather South Dakota had that week. The ride is comfortable and the car is very large (compared to a Fiat 500!). It also handled well through turns; we never felt like we were driving a boat. All and all a great car for a young professional who wants a car that looks great, is practical, and can be fun on occasion.
The interior of the 200 S was very well spec’d as well. If you are familiar with any recent Dodge/Chrysler vehicles, it has the same dashboard and infotainment center as the rest. Materials felt nice and the leather seats were comfortable. My wife especially liked the heated seats AND steering wheel. If you’re looking for any piece of tech, the 200 S has it. Bluetooth, GPS, safety features, backup camera, Chrysler’s UConnect, heated and cooled seats, and decent materials all surround you in this car.
As I explain how perfect the 2016 Chrysler 200 S is for pretty much anyone that wants a luxurious experience but can’t quite afford its German rivals, there is one nagging issue that lingers: the “S” badge. At nearly 300 horsepower, the engine is capable of having fun, but the transmission doesn’t want it to. The 200 S, “S” standing for sport, mind you, has a sport mode and paddle shifters, but everything is connected to an automatic 9-speed transmission. Yuck! Just when you begin to feel the rush of speed, the gears shift; again, and again, and again, nine times! You can never get an exhilarating long pull with the 200 S because it always needs to take a quick breath.
And finally, I’ll get to the price. With the 200 officially ending production for the 2017 model year, Chrysler is now only making the 300 and the Pacifica. (Literally only two vehicles!) That means dealerships cannot wait to get 200s off their lots. I’ve seen discounts on brand new 200 S’s anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000. So, to me, if you want a car this loaded, with this much power, that’s under $25,000, you’d be stupid not to test drive a Chrysler 200 S.
After praising it, and slightly bashing it, what’s my final verdict on the 2016 Chrysler 200 S? Well…It’s cool, but not that cool. Fun, but not that fun. Luxurious, but not that luxurious. I enjoyed driving it, but I don’t miss it. Can you find a better brand new car for this price? Probably not. At the end of the day, the Chrysler 200 S is just the tragic result of when an auto manufacturer just doesn’t care enough.