The most noticeable difference between the 200 and its Sebring forebear is everything.
The most noticeable difference between the 200 and its Sebring forebear is everything. Anything that does remain is invisible. Chrysler gave the 200 new steering and suspension, and completely restyled it inside and out. In addition to the body styles, there are four trim levels: LX (not available on the convertible), Touring, Limited, and S. There are two engines choices: a 173-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and a 283-hp 3.6-liter 'Pentastar' V-6. The Touring package features aluminum wheels, power driver's seat, and satellite radio. The Limited package adds fog lights, 18-inch aluminum wheels, heated seats in the front, USB ports, and Bluetooth capability.
Features & Prices
We tested both the 200 S sedan and the convertible models. The 200 S featured the 3.6-liter Pentastar with the six-speed automatic transmission. Options included a power sunroof and Chrysler's media center, which features satellite radio, Bluetooth audio, USB ports, GPS nav, and Uconnect voice-recognition system. On top of the base price of $26,365, and with the $750 destination charge, these features brought our tester up to $28,405. The 200 convertible we drove was a Limited with a base price of $31,950. The additional cost of the Uconnect system, the hard top, and the $850 destination charge had our tester topping out at $35,490.
On The Road
Equipped with the V-6 Pentastar that makes 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, the 200 has more than adequate speed-it's sporty but not muscly. It's got enough pep to make it a contender when jockeying for position on the freeway, and it's a breeze to drive around town. We didn't drive the base engine, but having driven the V-6 we can't see opting for anything less. The 200's suspension is firm and confident. Not luxury-class floaty like the 300, but smooth enough to let you feel the road without having to feel every bump and crack and uneven grade. The steering likewise occupies that middle ground between luxury loose and sporty precise-as with most aspects of this car, Chrysler hits their mark in the tricky middle ground between these two segments.
When Chrysler transformed the lowly Sebring into the 200 they did the unimaginable: they actually managed to keep one or two design cues from the Sebring and design a very stylish car around them. The doors have the same scalloped look, but the overall lines are much sleeker and with its lower stance it ends up looking, thankfully, much more like a baby 300 than a refashioned Sebring. The hard top convertible is a feat of engineering, but requires quite a bit of clearance, as the roof rises to a height of what seems like nine feet before collapsing into the trunk.
The 200's interior is handsomely appointed with stitched upholstery and plenty of shiny bits on the instrument panel. It has the requisite analog clock that symbolizes luxury because of its haughty rejection of modernity, and the cabin's curving, flowing lines are esthetically pleasing. The back seat has that ubiquitous sedan-like 'almost comfortable' feeling that speaks more to the fact that few people carry passengers than to any design deficiency. The convertible loses some utility points because two-thirds of the trunk is unusable if you plan on putting the top down, but who buys a convertible for utility? With the hard top up, the 200 is impressively soundproofed, with almost no wind noise at freeway speeds.
Safety & Fuel Economy
With seat-mounted side airbags, side front and rear airbags, and advanced multistage front airbags, the 200 has all the safety bases covered. Fuel economy is claimed at a respectable 29 mpg highway and 19 mpg city, although we seemed to be gassing ours up at a rate that would suggest slightly lower numbers. But then, this is not a car seeking to appeal to penny-pinchers.
As a replacement for the Sebring, the Chrysler 200 is an unmitigated success. But typical car buyers don't care about how much better a car is than the one it replaced, they just want a car that does what it's supposed to. On its own merits, however, the 200 is competitively priced, well appointed, and adequately powered. In a segment with such stiff competition as the Honda Accord, the Ford Fusion, the Toyota Camry, and the Hyundai Sonata, to name but a few, the 200 is definitely a contender.