2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible
by John Davis
Nothing says summer like a new convertible, and the drop-top version of the 2011 Chrysler 200 is the newest one on our lot. But, that alone is not reason enough to warrant its selection as MotorWeek’s Car of the Month.
This honor also has a lot to do with what the Chrysler 200 represents. It is uncanny how fast the new Fiat bosses at Chrysler Group were able to freshen the old Sebring series, and re-launch it as the 200, all while successfully conveying to the public that the mid-size sedan and convertible are truly new and different. The “Imported from Detroit” tagline of the Chrysler 200 is genius, and bodes well for a long list of genuinely redesigned cars and trucks yet to come.
Still, while not all-new, the Chrysler 200 has a lot going for it, starting with what you see. With mostly new sheet metal and a posh, thin-ribbed Chrysler grille, the 200’s upscale appearance catapults this car a world away from the Sebring.
Attractive 17-inch alloys wheels are standard, while the S Package adds dark 18-inch wheels and smoky trim. Body-side lines point to a long rear deck that shares a bit more with the Sebring predecessor, but it is very clean as the top stows flat under a hard tonneau cover.
The power top is fully automatic with no manual latches, more like a European import than domestic counterparts like Mustang and Camaro. Both cloth and steel tops are available, and when down, both leave enough trunk space for two golf bags.
Another change, that has much to do with how well the character of this convertible has been transformed along with the name, is under the hood. While a four-cylinder is standard, Chrysler’s new Pentastar V-6 is an option. This high-tech, and very desirable engine, combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission, makes for one smooth and energetic powertrain.
But, even in S trim, the 200 Convertible is not a performance car. Suspension tuning is definitely more for cruising, as rough road cowl-shake rears its head, much like in the Sebring before it.
On the other hand, the Sebring is among the few reasonably priced convertibles with four adult-sized seats, with decidedly more rear leg room than its Detroit pony-car rivals. Plus, the interior of the 200 is a nice place to be as the fit and finish are a big step up from Sebring. Chrome and piano black trim, combined with a high center analog clock, and are well matched to the elegant pretentions of the exterior. There still is too much hard plastic, but at least it won’t get ruined if you’re caught in the rain with the top down.
It is hard not to be impressed with the Chrysler 200. With a minimum of investment, Fiat was able to turn a rental-car ragtop into a truly desirable open-air display.
For more sunny remarks about the Chrysler 200 Convertible, be sure to catch our top-up and top-down Road Test on episode #3046 which airs nationwide on public television beginning July 23. MotorWeek is broadcast on PBS television stations nationwide, and on HD Theater where high definition cable and satellite service is available. Full episodes of MotorWeek can also be viewed at www.pbs.org.