When Chrysler dropped the Sebring and replaced it with the new Chrysler 200 in 2011, the car went from just being a rental car choice to a legitimate contender in the mid-size sedan segment. The new Chrysler 200 uses the same platform as the Sebring, but engineers changed and strengthened everything on the new car. It was an impressive piece of work, considering Chrysler pulled off the transformation in just 12 months.
Just about every new Chrysler comes with an updated interior, as does the 2012 200. On the inside, the first thing that is noticed is the one-piece soft-touch dash, a new gated shift lever, fine chrome accents, and low-gloss plastics. The cheap look of the Sebring is gone, and the new 200 is much classier. The interior should wear better with the new materials, according to Chrysler’s interior designer Klaus Busse.
The fit and finish of the 200’s interior is much better now using a soft dashboard skin because it allows for a much smaller tolerance between dash pieces. Inside, Chrysler has managed to provide a reasonably upscale experience. The cabin isn’t up to the level of a Lexus ES350, but it’s now competitive in this class.
The 200 is extremely quiet, thanks to a substantial revision of the suspension, engine mounts, and insulation materials. The 200 Limited gets leather-trimmed front seats that are comfortable, and the eight-way power driver’s seat and tilt/telescoping steering wheel make it easy to find the right driving position. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather with mounted audio controls, and along with the heated front seats, they add a luxury feel to the new 200 Limited model.
This Chrysler 200 Limited tester ($24,070) also gets upgraded interior trim, remote start, touch-screen display, compass, outside temperature reading, 430-watt sound system, Media Center CD/DVD with a 40-gig hard drive, iPod input, Bluetooth, U-Connect hands-free phone, fog lamps, and 18-inch polished aluminum wheels. The V-6 is optional ($1,795). Navigation is optional ($695) and comes with Sirius Real-Time Traffic and Sirius Travel Link.
This Chrysler 200 Limited came with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that’s been around two years and continues to get rave reviews. The peppy V-6 makes 283 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
While test driving the Chrysler 200 on two-lane mountain roads, the Pentastar V-6 delivered plenty of power and acceleration. Chrysler says the V-6 makes more than 90 percent of its peak torque from 1600 rpm all the way up to redline 6400, and driving at altitude in the mountains supports that, as the V-6 had plenty of torque and acceleration pulling I-70 up Vail Pass.
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 173 horsepower and gets an estimated EPA fuel mileage rating of 21/30 city/highway. The V-6 gives up very little to the I4 in fuel mileage, with a strong EPA rating of 19 city/29 highway miles per gallon.
The Chrysler 200 is an affordable midsize car that offers exceptional value. The 200 offers two excellent engine choices, and both are fuel-efficient. With both sedan and convertible versions available, the 200 is a legitimate contender in the mid-size sedan segment. But the 2012 Chrysler 200 faces an uphill battle against considerable competition in the segment.