Hooray for Chrysler! The once proud American brand, now owned by Italian automaker Fiat, is proud again, as the new models they produce are very well done.
When I think of Chrysler, I often hark back to my childhood days, when every car I wanted wore the badge of a Chrysler, or corporate cousins Plymouth and Dodge. Imperial, Charger, Road Runner, GTX, Barracuda and Challenger were some of the performance and luxury icons I coveted. Chrysler was known as the “Engineering” company, and offered full instrumentation on just about all of its cars, and set new performance trends with innovative engines like the legendary HEMI V8.
Over the years, Chrysler, like the other “Big Three” automakers Ford and General Motors, lost their direction and swagger. The Japanese and European brands were now part of the American car buying lexicon, and set the bar super high in terms of luxury, performance and reliability.
The rest is history. Plymouth and Dodge are gone. Chrysler’s “marriage of equals” with Daimler-Benz was hardly that, and Federal assistance and new ownership to save it was on hand.
Well thanks to an infusion of cash and corporate moxie, Chrysler is back, as evidenced by my recent test drive of the terrific 2015 Chrysler 200.
To show the automotive world it meant business when developing the new 200, Chrysler invested $1 billion into the Sterling Heights plant in Michigan, which includes an all new, fully robotic body shop, an environmentally focused paint shop and an upgraded assembly center.
The net result is the $21,700 (excluding destination) 200 LX, which features an impressive level of content. Standard LX gear includes keyless Enter N’ Go push button start; air conditioning with micron filter; electronic gear shifting with rotary e-shift knob; electric power steering; premium cloth bucket seats; full center console with driver/passenger pass through and sliding cup holder; multiple 12 volt outlets in media charging center, which also includes USB charging capability; rear seat armrest with storage/cup holders; 60/40 rear fold down passenger seat with ski pass through; Uconnect radio with four