The automotive press has been less than kind to the 2011 Chrysler 200. Some call it a made-over Sebring, and while the roots of the car certainly go back to the underwhelming Sebring, there just is not any way to compare the two cars. MUCH has been done to the 200 to change the old perceptions. I am always on edge when I like a car that everybody else doesn’t. That is the case with this week’s review.
The 2011 Chrysler 200 is a true mid-sized car and maybe even just a tad larger. My test car is Bright Silver Clear Coat with black leather interior. The car is visibly very pretty, with sleek lines and a front-end that looks very Mercedes-ish. A set of 18″ polished aluminum wheels complete the exterior look of a car that appears to cost much more than it does.
This test car is a little different from what I usually get. I could not fit this car into my schedule when it first came out, so I am late getting it. Normally, I am blessed to be one of the first in the country to get any of the new models, and it is very common to get a car with 200 miles on it. Usually, 1000 miles is a lot. This particular car has in excess of 10,000 miles. Let me point out that 10,000 press-driven miles are equivalent to 30,000 or perhaps even 40,000 miles under normal driving conditions. This was a true test of this car, and I feel like a have a much better than usual glimpse into how the car will hold up.
The driving dynamics of the car are very good. It handles well and has a smooth ride. Chrysler made some nice changes to the suspension system since the Sebring days. I never liked the way Sebring rode, you felt every bump, but that is not the case with 200.
The interior of the car is nice, nothing fancy but appealing to the eye. It is in fact, much nicer than you would expect with a car of this price range. I would describe the interior as clean. The gauges are easy to read and see, and one big improvement is the radio and navigation screen operation. With previous versions, changing the radio, changing presets and entering an address for directions was cumbersome. That is no longer the case. Headroom and backseat room are surprisingly adequate.
Under the hood, the car comes standard with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. My test car has a 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar with a 6-speed automatic. The engine performs great and is quiet with ample and steady acceleration. Fuel economy on this car has been surprising at 22 in-town and hitting 30 on the highway. The city mileage is a lot of stop and go and without trying. This car is doing considerable better than the EPA rated it, which is not all that uncommon these days.
I think the real story of this car is the value. Don’t peek at the window sticker price below just yet. You get all the standard equipment like power windows/locks, power driver’s seat, dual heated seats, tilt wheel, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, halogen headlights, fog lamps, and automatic headlights.
In addition, my test car had an equipment package that besides the V6 engine, it has dual exhaust with chrome tips. This car also has the power sunroof, and media center which includes a 30 GB hard drive that will hold over 4000 songs and the Garmin in-dash navigation system.
The only knock on the car is Chrysler could have done a better job with torque-steer. The car tends to head to the left or right under heavy acceleration from a dead stop. You get used to it and compensate for it, but many other front-wheel drive cars have all but eliminated this annoyance.
Bottom line, this car is super loaded and can be bought for under $24000 if you qualify for certain rebates. That makes the 200 an incredible value.
What I liked most: The level of equipment for the price.
What I would change if I could: Eliminate or lessen the torque-steer.
MSRP as tested: $27,530.
Fuel Economy: Under-rated at 19 city/29 highway.
200 in a few words: A terrific value and a great car.