While the name is new, the 2011 Chrysler 200 is not technically a new vehicle; it's actually a dramatically redesigned version of a rental-fleet favorite, the Chrysler Sebring . The brief backstory is this: when Fiat joined with Chrysler, the need for a new four-door sedan with the ability to compete against the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord became apparent, and so the 200 was envisioned and pushed to production in just one year. And in every way, it's a huge improvement over the outgoing Sebring. The 200 features a new hood, headlights, taillights and fascia, among other exterior improvements, and the interior possesses some refinement as well, despite the dismal infotainment setup. But the most impressive change is found in the drive – a usually overlooked area in the family sedan segment, which is a more engaging experience overall. A new 3.6-liter V-6 is the star engine and a better choice over the carryover 2.4-liter, which is anemic, to say the least. So the big question is this: can the 200 steal sales away from the strong performers in this segment? This quick turnaround may have been a little too hasty for that, but smart pricing and improved styling have it heading in the right direction.
What's to Like
3.6-liter engine is a strong performer and one that can go head-to-head with others in the segment. Pricing – at just under $20,000 to start – is spot-on and undercuts nearly every other competitor. Headroom and trunk space are ample. The drive is much improved over the outgoing Sebring.
What's Not to Like
Retaining the old Uconnect system as the 200's infotainment system is an unfortunate choice; it's outdated and unintuitive. The exterior design, while improved, isn't good enough to truly compete with the heavy hitters in the sedan class, and neither is the interior, for that matter. Its four-cylinder engine is underwhelming, and gas mileage isn't as impressive as some of the newer models in the segment.
The Drive: Driving Impressions
Let's recall the Sebring for a moment; the drive was soft and sloppy, steering was vague and loose and only anemic engine choices were on offer. It's with great pleasure we reveal that the 200 suffers from none of these traits. Yes, the 2.4-liter engine is a disappointment, but the V-6 can get the car over hills without a fuss. Handling and suspension are taut, and the steering has plenty of feel to it. Minor quibbles are found in the gearboxes, which are a little sluggish – expect new ones in the next iteration, and in the throttle, which has a slow response time. The 200 is no sports car, and it doesn't have to be. It's now a car that keeps passengers comfortable and drivers interested, as a midsize sedan should.
Engine and Drivetrain
A 2.4-liter four-cy...