With highway economy of 36 mpg, the 2015 Chrysler 200 isn't the most fuel-efficient vehicle we've written about recently, but it has an important job to do.

The old model, despite being widely loathed by anyone forced to rent one at airport desks around the country, sold in large numbers in the U.S.

In 2013, it topped 122,000 units and in 2012, 125,000. Those years were its best-selling too, even bettering the old Sebring on which it was loosely based.

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The old 200 managed, at most, 31 mpg on the highway from its 2.4-liter gasoline engine. Buyers who opted for the four-speed auto, rather than the six-speed, got just 29 mpg.

An increase of 5-7 mpg highway means significant fuel savings--both in the wallet and on a macro level--for anyone trading up from the old model.

More pertinently, the 2015 200's highway rating with the standard 2.4-liter 'Tigershark' MultiAir engine is also better than that of the 2014 Toyota Camry 2.5 (35 mpg) and Ford Fusion 2.5 (34 mpg).

Hybrid versions of the Camry and Fusion do offer better mileage, but buyers have to pay for the privilege.

Elsewhere, the 200's economy figures are still a great improvement on the old model.

It's capable of 23 mpg city--2-3 mpg better than the old 200--and has a combined rating of 28 mpg, 5 mpg up on the older car. The Camry matches this combined figure, thanks to its 25 mpg city rating.

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Some of the new 200's new-found efficiency is down to Fiat's MultiAir technology, using electro-hydraulic variable valve actuation to control air intake, rather than using a traditional throttle valve. This allows optimum intake valve opening schedules, with better fuel efficiency and greater low-revs torque.

A new nine-speed automatic transmission--up from four and six speeds on the old 200--means the engine is more likely to be working at its peak, beneficial for both performance and economy.

The 2.4-liter Tigershark will remain the 200's most efficient engine, while the 295-horsepower Pentastar V-6 offers buyers a higher-output option.

This engine, also equipped with all-wheel drive, manages 18 mpg, 29 mpg and 22 mpg in city, highway and combined driving respectively. Those figures match the old 200, though city mileage is actually 1 mpg down.

2015 Chrysler 200 pricing starts at $22,695, including a mandatory $995 destination fee.


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