Most Improved Player: The 2015 Chrysler 200C

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Chrysler 200C
The 2015 Chrysler 200C.
Having expounded a few times on my thoughts regarding automobiles and art, it should come as no surprise that I considered the 2014 and earlier Chrysler 200 as graffiti.  An ungainly mess of a car, excused only by the fact that it was something of an improvement over the Chrysler Sebring.  Fiat did a rush job putting lipstick strategically on a pig.

But this---this is what can happen when you have time, taste and money all devoted to building a new mid-size sedan.

Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Chrysler 200C
2015 Chrysler 200C.
The new 200 is a car aware of its competition. The midsize sedan class is not always where you will find daring styling, but of late, the Mazda 6 and others have been indulging in fluid, emotional, even Italianite styling.  And this 200C is what the real Italians can do. Some say it looks like a stretched Dodge Dart, but given the Dart's sales numbers, it should only be a year or two before the 200 outnumbers them on the roads and people begin to say the Dart looks like a shrunken 200. It is smooth to drive, has more than adequate power, but isn't quite the sharp handler the Mazda is.

Our tester was the top-of-the-line 200C AWD. Base price $30,195, it comes with a 24-valve, 3.6-liter, 295 horsepower engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission.  EPA estimate is 18 city/29 highway.  Standard features include keyless entry, pushbutton start, dual-zone automatic temperature control, a six-speaker audio system, Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats (8-way power for the driver with a four-way power lumbar adjustment), a 7-inch color driver information center and USB.

Interior view of 2015 Chrysler 200C
2015 Chrysler 200C interior.
The styling improvements continue to the inside, which is now one of the most beautiful interiors in its class.

As usual, our test car had options. $1,295 for Customer Preferred Package 26N (Advanced brake assist, rain-sensitive wipers, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, automatic high beam control, full speed forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot and cross-path detection, parallel and perpendicular park assist)...$995 for the Premium Group (premium leather-trimmed vent seats, premium leather seat cushion, ventilated front seats, luxury door trim panels, memory exterior mirrors, seat and radio memory, heated steering wheel, and wood and bronze interior accents)...$1,395 for the Navigation and Sound Group (GPS navigation, an upgrade to a nine-speaker Alpine audio system with HD Radio and a 506-watt amplifier, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen display)...and $795 for the Premium Lighting Group (HID headlamps with LED running lights and LED fog lamps).

With $995 destination charge, the as-tested price was $35,670.  That is a sizable amount of money, and more than $2,500 higher than our class-leading Mazda 6.  But the 200C has more than 100 additional horsepower and much more tech.  Given the company's history, it will be interesting to see how many takers there will be at this price point.