Chrysler has lagged behind the premium car companies when it comes to safety features. At NAIAS in Detroit last week, the iconic Motor City automaker announced the 2015 Chrysler 200 will come equipped with safety features usually found on a BMW or Mercedes-Benz. And it has one feature the European brands can't quite touch: a low $21,700 pricetag.
In the past, entry-level sedans have missed most of the high-end cocooning features. The 200 will offer adaptive cruise control (maintaining a safe distance behind the car in front of you, even down to a full stop) and lane departure intervention (using steering assistance to keep you in your lane). The Chrysler 200 will also use a new Forward Collision Warning-Plus system that can brake for you automatically to avoid an accident, including making a full stop.
Recent vehicles like the 2014 Acura RLX and 2014 Infiniti Q50 also intervene to keep the car centered in a lane, but both cost north of $40,000. The 200's LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus shows an alert in the dash if you venture out of your lane and nudges you back into place. (Chrysler has not revealed whether the 200 uses mechanical or electronic steering.)
Another unique feature has to do with a unique scenario: in case of an accident, or if the car detects you are not paying attention, the car will stay put even if you leave the car while it is still in drive. With a keen eye on advancements at Ford, especially with the similarly priced Fusion (at $21,970), the 200 also uses a new automatic park system for both parallel and perpendicular parking.
The trend to add more safety features in lower-priced models is not that surprising: sensors and cameras are less pricey than they once were. Also, car companies are betting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) might make some of these features standard on all cars at some point. Late last year, the NHTSA already started "recommending" that cars come with rearview video monitoring.