We've got photos of a Chrysler interior. We don't know which one it is. But all signs point to the new 2015 Chrysler 200, which is going to be revealed next year, presumably at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
There are telltale signs this is a Chrysler product. The three-spoke steering wheel is identical to the one that debuted in the Jeep Cherokee this year. The TFT display behind the steering wheel is identical to the one in the Dodge Dart. Both the Dart and the Cherokee are built on the same Alfa-based platform. The new 200 is supposed to be built on that same platform. It's looking more and more like this is the 200.
The 200 has always been seen as an also-ran in the midsize sedan camp, but Chrysler's obviously stepping up their game this time around if this is its replacement. The rotary gearshift, also in the 2014 Dodge Durango and the Ram 1500, is a smooth touch. I'm not the biggest fan of the climate control knobs, because that's the same layout in every single Chrysler on the road right now. It saves money, sure. But there's no differentiation.
The floating center stack is new, though. And it looks like designers are using the same metal accents used with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is a plus. And there's a push-start ignition and electronic e-brake, which everybody has these days but not the current 200. The buttons on the steering wheel indicate there's a collision-avoidance system in place.
Overall, not bad. But I have just one suggestion, Chrysler. PLEASE DO NOT CALL THIS CAR THE 200. It bugs me to no end that the smallest car in the Fiat-Chrysler lineup is the 500, and the biggest car is...the 300. We get that numbers are supposed to convey luxury. But it's high time Chrysler ditch this way of thinking and call this car something else and leave the numbers to Fiat.
You want this car to go up against the Fusion and the Optima? Give us a name that's equally memorable. A lot of people are still thinking "that car that looks like the Sebring" when they hear 200. This isn't focus-group market research bullshit. This is me talking to my non-car friends when they ask me about which car to buy.
Otherwise, well done. Now what's the exterior going to look like? Ralph Gilles said earlier this year that it would set the standard for all future Chrysler vehicles. We'll see.