2011 Chrysler 200 LimitedPosted on June 16th, 2011
Chrysler completely revamps and renames the Sebring
by Jim Woodman
One of Chrysler’s more well-known models was the Sebring, not because of its popularity at the auto dealership but its near ubiquitous coverage of rental car fleets. If you’ve rented plenty of cars in the last few years, you’ve probably driven a Sebring and, most likely, were not rushing to the nearest Chrysler dealer to snag one for yourself.
And had it not been for those rental car companies picking up the Sebrings at huge discounts, the model might have been an even larger failure for Chrysler. With Accord, Fusion, Camry, Altima, Optima and Sonata leading the charge in this mid-size sedan segment, Chrysler knew it had to re-engineer its entry to compete within this popular segment. So beyond just a complete facelift and remodel, Chrysler had no choice but to also rename the image-challenged Sebring.
So Chrysler canned the Sebring name and dubbed the all-new version as simply the “200.” Actually not a bad idea considering the Chrysler 300 has a solid reputation and the association of a more “entry level” sedan dubbed the 200 might interest buyers.
While the 200 has enjoyed a pretty solid makeover including exterior styling, new 3.6 liter engine, retuned suspension and steering coupled with significant interior upgrades, many reviewers have not been very kind. But I tend to disagree with some of the 200 naysayers who seem fixated on the fact this was just a revamped Sebring with a new name.
For starters, only the 200’s body has any kind of resemblance to the old Sebring exterior. New sheet metal from the front doors forward and remodeled front and rear fascias with daytime running lights and taillights give the 200 a little more flair than the Sebring.
Four Trim Levels
The 200 is offered in four trim levels: LX, Touring, Limited and S Trim. For those wanting a full outdoor experience, you can also get your 200 as a convertible.
The entry-level LX dials you in to 17-inch steel wheels, four-speed automatic transmission, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
Set up to the Touring and you get 17-inch alloy wheels, six-speed automatic transmission, auto on/off headlights, power driver seat, automatic climate control, trip computer, upgraded interior lighting, leather-wrapped steering wheel and six-speaker sound system with satellite radio.
The Limited, which is what I test drove, sorts you out with18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote ignition, Bluetooth and a premium sound system with a touchscreen interface, voice controls and digital music storage. An optional navigation system with Sirius Travel Link data service rounds out the creature comforts.
I found the Bluetooth system – dubbed Uconnect – was incredibly easy to connect to my iPhone and worked extremely well. Navigation was a little clunky to use (disclaimer: I didn’t read the directions as I believe these things should be more intuitive) but after some fiddling got me from A to B without too much effort. My main complaint – and I know I’ll get the safety conscious telling me to chill – is that you can’t enter anything while driving. The issue is that many times I jump in the car and ask my wife to enter the address into the “navi.” If we have to pull over every time we want to punch in a new address that can get incredibly annoying.
The sportier S trim level trades much of its chrome trim for a blacked out grille, blacked out headlights and black-painted pockets for the standard 18-inch alloy wheel as well as a black background for the Chrysler logo. Sporty front seats with suede like inserts round the “S” out as the top trim level. For the convertible, you can opt for a conventional power-operated soft top or retractable steel hardtop.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive Chrysler 200 comes in two engine flavors. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder is standard on all trims except the S and puts out 173 hp and 166 pound-feet of torque. The 3.6-liter V6, which is standard on the S and available as an option on all but the entry-level LX, puts out a very adequate 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. I never felt underpowered even when needing faster acceleration on to some of Miami’s freeways.
Four-speed automatic transmission is standard on the LX while all other trim levels get a six-speed automatic. EPA fuel estimates are 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 24 combined for the four-cylinder and six-speed transmission. The V6 gets you a 19/29/22 mpg.
A number of improvements to the suspension have significantly improved the 200’s handling and I found the car to handle very adequately through swift 90 degree turns. There was no soft or mushy feel as I remember some of the Sebring’s I’d driven in the past.
While I didn’t test the 2.4-liter four-cylinder, I would imagine it’s going to leave you severely lacking in acceleration and highway speed. The 3.6-liter V6 gets you an extra 100 horsepower with not much lost in fuel economy. In other words, the trade-off and the 6-speed automatic is well worth the more powerful engine.
The 200’s dashboard and controls are not too different from the Sebring’s but the designers used much more upgraded materials and the overall appearance is a marked improvement. With automatic temperature control for air conditioning, heated front seats, steering wheel mounted controls, 30gb hard drive with 6,700 song capacity, remote USB port, 8-way power driver’s seat and more you definitely have a very comfy sedan loaded with all the features you’ve come to know and expect nowadays. Unfortunately there’s no option for a backup camera, a feature many of the competitors make available.
Passenger cabin dimensions haven’t changed, so the 200 might feel a bit cramped for taller drivers. If you’re looking to tote your bike in the trunk, you’ll give up a little space to the competitors as the 13.6-cubic-foot trunk is a little on the small side.
From a safety perspective, the 200 comes with typical standard safety features including stability and traction control, antilock brakes with brake assist, active front head restraints, front side airbags and side curtain airbags.
For crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 200 sedan scored the top rating of “Good” in all the agency’s tests which include frontal offset, side impact and roof strength. The convertible also scored “Good” in the frontal-offset and side impact tests.
The 2011 Chrysler 200 is one of those very adequate, well-rounded mid-sized sedans that will truly make you forget it had anything to do with the poor Sebring. When you consider the price, and how it stacks up very well to its mid-size competitors, this completely redesigned family sedan is worth a test drive.
Model: 200 Limited
Base price: $23,745
As tested: $28,005
Horsepower: 283 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 260 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 7.5 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 19/29 mpg city/highway
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