NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- One of life's saddest realities is how outdated reputations lag a new reality. This works both ways: Products that used to be great maintain their reputations long after they have lost their competitive edge.
It also works the other way around. Consider Chrysler, for example. Now part of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Chrysler is one of the group's many bewildering brands, with others including Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, RAM and Jeep.
Chrysler itself has only three nameplates, amazingly:
1. The Town & Country minivan: The upscale sister car to the Dodge Caravan, it's now celebrating its 30th anniversary as the original minivan. The need for a redesign is acute.
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2. The 300: Based on a multiple generations-old Mercedes E-class, this large sedan is also overdue for a major redesign.
3. The 200: This midsize sedan, wildly out of date, has been a favorite among rental car companies for years. Until now.
Forget the old Chrysler 200. The all-new 2015 is arriving in Chrysler dealerships and it's as different from the old 200 as today's China is compared to Mao's Red Paradise circa 1974.
Including destination charge, the Chrysler 200 starts at $22,695 and goes over $30,000 depending on various engines and other equipment. It competes across a wide range of the best-selling midsize sedans such as Toyota (TM) Camry, Nissan (NSANY) Altima, Honda (HMC) Accord, VW Jetta, Ford (F) Fusion and General Motors' (GM) Chevrolet Malibu.
From an exterior design standpoint it is very neutral. Anyone wishing to travel and park anonymously will like the new Chrysler 200. Here is the thing, though: It does not look bad. In fact, I can't find a bad line on the car. It is very much following the Audi sedan philosophy and, other than the front of the car, it looks like an Audi A7.
The exterior has a couple of different trims, taking a cue from Mercedes E-Class and the all-new 2015 C-Class. The Sport version has blacked-out trim and another version has more chrome. Both are executed very well but my favorite is the sport trim in solid black all around.
The interior is where it gets extremely interesting. All in all, it is one of the best interiors I have experienced in any car and it's most likely the best one in this price range.