Ergonomics done right.®
February 5th, 2014

A Closer Look at the Chrysler C200

by R. Daniel Munoz, AEP

R. Daniel MunozDuring the 2014 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, the C200 was showcased as one of the better Chrysler models in their entire line up and one of the best sedans in its class. The engineers at Chrysler made several improvements including looks, safety, fuel economy, system controls, and engine and transmission performance.  As an ergonomist, of course the improvements that caught my attention were the system control changes. Of the many system features that the C200 offers, there were two that kept me thinking; the electronic parking brake and the adaptive cruise control.

The parking brake is a system that works based on continuous input to achieve the desired result. I’ll explain; when parking on a steep hill, the brake requires the driver to apply a greater force than when parking on a street with no inclination. The electronic parking brake uses a switch to get input from the user, which limits the linear ability of the breaking system to a discrete on and off system. I believe that an electronic parking system is far more accurate than we humans are when it comes to applying the necessary parking brake force. Therefore this leads me to believe that a “switch” may not be the correct control method for this continuous linear system, perhaps a knob or the good old-fashioned lever.

The adaptive cruise control enables the vehicle to automatically reduce the target cruise speed based on the proximity to the Chrysler C200car in front of you, which is detected by radar at a distance of up to 498 feet The user has the ability to control the distance at which the proximity system is triggered. The system not only decreases the target cruise control speed but it will also apply the brakes, if necessary.  There are three push buttons to control this feature. My curiosity leads me to ask…what do the symbols on these three push buttons mean to control?  What triggers the application of the brakes when approaching the car in front of you? Does the vehicle or does the user control that? How does changing the system trigger distance affect the decision making for lowering the cruise speed and applying the brakes?

Given the amount of new features that the C200 has, I wonder if dealers will have a training session on how to effectively use all the functions of the vehicle. I may just have to go for a test drive myself  to further understand all these new features in the C200.