2013 Chrysler 200 Limited ConvertiblePosted on August 30th, 2013
Hardtop adds practicality to open-air fun
By Nina Russin
I believe that everyone should own at least one convertible during his or her lifetime. Nothing, with the exception of a motorcycle, offers a comparable visceral experience. The problem for those living in extreme climates is insulation.
The retractable hardtop option on the Chrysler 200 solves the problem, and adds an extra layer of sound deadening to boot. The 200 is Chrysler’s replacement for the Sebring midsized platform. The convertible is available with a choice of two engines: a 173-horsepower inline four-cylinder block or 283-horsepower V-6.
The test car is the upscale Limited: one of three available trim options. Power comes from the 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission. For 2013, engineers updated the 200’s suspension, making stabilizer bars beefier for better handling in the corners.
Base price for the Limited is $32,320, excluding the $995 destination charge. The test car comes with a Uconnect package that also adds navigation and the retractable hardtop, bringing the final MSRP to $36,105.
Test drive in Phoenix
I spent the past week behind the wheel of the Chrysler 200 convertible, driving on freeways and surface streets throughout the east valley as well as some rural roads on the Gila River Indian reservation south of town.
The most striking difference between the 200 and the Sebring that preceded it is torsional rigidity. The Sebring’s squeaks and rattles were its Achilles heel, whereas the Chrysler 200 is a very solid car.
The revised suspension consists of a MacPherson setup in front with multi-links in the rear. The beefed-up stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat while cornering, while gas-charged shocks help the convertible to rebound better going over bumps.
I was impressed with how well the front-wheel drive chassis handled a decreasing-radius cloverleaf turn, with no obvious tendency to understeer or push.
The V-6 engine is the block to choose for this car. Convertibles tend to be heavy cars and the Chrysler 200 is no exception. The V-6 model has a 4000-pound curb weight. I had adequate power for accelerating from a stop or on an entrance ramp, but even with the larger engine, the car isn’t exactly a hot rod. Fuel economy during my test drive was about 23 miles-per-gallon: slightly better than the EPA estimate.
The six-speed automatic transmission seems well matched to the engine, progressing smoothly through the gears with no obvious shift shock under normal driving conditions.
A power rack-and-pinion steering system offers ample assist at lower speeds for maneuvering through crowded parking lots with a pleasantly heavy feel at higher speeds. The turning circle with the optional 18-inch wheels on the test car is about 37 feet: adequate for performing the occasional U-turn on wider four-lane suburban roads.
Visibility with the top in place is pretty good. The rear window is large as convertibles go, and I had no problems monitoring traffic in the adjacent lanes on the highway. A toggle switch on the center console releases the top and stows it in the trunk.
I would have liked to have seen a rearview camera as standard equipment, simply because it would have made it easier to monitor cross traffic in parking lots. The car’s rear pillars are fairly wide and not particularly easy to see around. The cowl is rather high, but I was able to adjust the driver’s seat high enough to get a clear forward view.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the convertible in firm, linear fashion.
Chrysler has one of the best design teams among the OEMs. Not only does the Chrysler 200 have a head-turning exterior, but a very stylish interior as well. The two-tone upholstery is eye-catching without being gaudy.
I found the driver’s seat comfortable for drives up to an hour with plenty of lower lumbar support. The large Uconnect screen in the center stack is easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions, including bright sunlight.
Redundant steering wheel controls enable the driver to use the Bluetooth interface and navigate through the information pages in the gauge cluster with minimal distraction. The information pages display tire inflation pressures, driving range, elapsed time and average fuel economy.
The convertible’s biggest limitation, especially for buyers with active lifestyles is its trunk. The trunk lid is heavy due to the retracting mechanism for the top, and the stowage compartment for the top takes up most of the room inside. My husband and I were able to load three paper sacks of groceries inside. A small duffle bag would also fit, but not much else.
The Chrysler 200 convertible comes with front and side airbags, antilock brakes, stability control and tire pressure monitoring. The factory three-year/36,000 mile warranty includes 24-hour roadside assistance.
The Chrysler 200 convertible is on display at dealerships nationwide.
Like: A stylish, solidly built convertible hardtop that owners will feel proud to be seen in. The optional hardtop adds insulation for drivers who live in four-season climates, and reduces noise intrusion into the interior.
Dislike: Usable trunk space is very limited and the trunk lid is heavy.
Model: 200 Convertible Limited
Base price: $32,320
As tested: $36,105
Horsepower: 283 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 260 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: N/A
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 19/29 mpg city/highway
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