By on April 4, 2011


I wasn’t planning to review the Chrysler 200. Renaming a lightly revised car to escape a well-deserved bad reputation always strikes me as a lame tactic. And the Sebring, on which the 200 is based, was so far off in so many ways that I didn’t see the point. We don’t just review cars to trash them around here. But then I drove the revised minivan, and was very pleasantly surprised. Perhaps Chrysler had similarly transformed the Sebring when creating the 200? With a Buick Regal for the week, and a need for some reference points, the time had come to find out.

Working with limited funds and even more limited time, Chrysler couldn’t change the sheetmetal. So the 200’s proportions are every bit as frumpy as the Sebring’s were. Given this constraint, the improvements wrought with new wheels, light assemblies, fascias, and upscale trim are admirable. Just not sufficient (though the rear three-quarters view isn’t bad). Dark colors like the metallic black on the tested car do at least de-emphasize the odd C-pillar. Granted, the Camry, Accord, and Fusion are hardly beauties, but their proportions (which my eye tends to focus on) are less ungainly. The Regal is much more handsome (as is the Chevrolet Malibu).

Chrysler was able to more substantially revise the Sebring’s interior, and the 200’s is more attractive than those in the Camry, Accord, and Fusion. The sedan’s cleanly-styled instrument panel, many padded surfaces, and classy piano black trim with chrome highlights suggest that it should be considered a premium car. But upon closer inspection the upscale appearance seems skin deep and concentrated in the instrument panel. The door panels are extensively padded but their armrests, which give a bit when employed to pull the door closed, feel as well as appear tacked on.

The minor controls are very similar to those in the Sebring and don’t look or feel like those in a premium car. There are good reasons why the Regal costs about $4,000 more (though the Suzuki Kizashi comes close to the Regal while being priced about $1,000 above the 200). The materials in major direct competitors tend to be cheaper, and look it, but they are assembled at least as well. The Hyundai Sonata might pose the largest challenge by combining style with above-average materials and workmanship.

The Chrysler 200’s minimally bolstered seats, though certainly more comfortable than the Sebring’s hard slabs, recall domestic iron from years past. Though the buckets are soft, you still sit on them rather than in them. The thick A-pillars, tall instrument panel, and overly distant windshield conspire with these seats to thwart any meaningful connection with the car. The side windows are more expansive, but this largely serves to highlight that the view forward is not. In back there’s a healthy amount of legroom, but as in the Sebring (and many competitors) the cushion isn’t high enough off the floor to provide thigh support.

With 283 horsepower at 6,400 RPM and 260 foot-pounds at 4,400 RPM, the all-new 3.6-liter DOHC V6 out-specs all others in the segment. Hitched to Chrysler’s homegrown six-speed automatic (neither the smoothest nor the smartest) it moves the car quickly and sounds good in the process while earning EPA ratings of 19 / 29. But the chassis isn’t a match for the V6’s power. There’s some torque steer under hard acceleration, but the real problem is posed by curves. In casual driving the 200 feels okay, but even a moderately aggressive turn of the steering wheel uncovers a fair amount of lean, early onset understeer, and insufficient damping. The harder you push the 200 the sloppier both the suspension and the steering feel. Some cars ask to be driven aggressively. Others are up to the challenge, though they don’t ask for it. The 200 isn’t up to the challenge. Some Toyotas suffer from a similar powertrain-chassis mismatch, but this doesn’t make it right. The Regal has the opposite problem: well-tuned chassis, merely adequate engine. On a curvy road this is the better problem to have.

In his Chrysler Town & Country review, Jack Baruth noted that he was easily able to keep up with a 200 driven by another journalist. No doubt the other journalist lacked Jack’s mad driving skillz, but it also happens that the minivan steers and handles much better than the sedan. My earlier suspicion that Chrysler cribbed from VW’s work for the Routan? Consider it intensified.

The 200 does ride better than it handles, and better than the Sebring. For people who drive like grandmas (perhaps because they are grandmas) its chassis limitations won’t be much of an issue. The car doesn’t seem as slick and eerily silent at low speeds as a Toyota, but it’s smoother and quieter than an Accord or Fusion. Here as well the Sonata poses a tough challenge. Some competitors handle better, others ride better, but the Sonata Limited’s balance between the two might be the best among the segment’s major players. Unfortunately, none are outstanding driver’s cars.

One thing the Chrysler 200 definitely has going for it: a low price. With the V6, leather, sunroof (not on the tested car), nav, and premium audio it lists for $28,505. A comparably equipped Toyota Camry XLE lists for $3,700 more, and adjusting for remaining feature differences using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool narrows the gap by only about $300. A loaded Ford Fusion Sport is about $2,500 more even after a $1,600 adjustment in its favor for a power passenger seat, SYNC, a rearview monitor, and various other safety features not available on the Chrysler. Even a Sonata Limited 2.0T with nav is about $1,600 more.

Its strong new V6 notwithstanding, the Chrysler 200 isn’t remotely a driver’s car. Unlike the revised minivans, the revised sedan doesn’t contain any pleasant surprises. The bits you see, most notably the much-improved interior styling, are as good as it gets. The 200’s refinement, solidity, and chassis tuning mark it as, at best, an average member of the mainstream midsize sedan class rather than the next one up. To their credit, Sergio’s bunch aren’t deluding themselves about how much they were able to achieve. An all-new Fiat-based midsize sedan is only a couple of years away. In the meantime, they’ve priced the 200 substantially lower than its major competitors, making it a good value for those who don’t mind its exterior styling and who aren’t aiming to carve any corners.

Brad Marshall of Suburban Chrysler in Novi, MI, provided the car. Brad can be reached at 248-427-7721.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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101 Comments on “Review: 2011 Chrysler 200...”


  • avatar
    philadlj

    Having driven the 200, in your opinion, am I correct in saying there is no part of the 200 that is worse than the Sebring it replaces?

  • avatar
    mpresley

    The bits you see…are as good as it gets. The 200’s refinement, solidity, and chassis tuning mark it as, at best…average…
     
    I’m so happy we taxpayers bailed out Chrysler.  Good going, government.  Oh well, if it’s good enough for government work, it’s good enough for airport rental duty, I guess.
     

    • 0 avatar

      As noted in the introduction and conclusion, this was admittedly a quick, cheap stopgap until they could develop a new car. Given what they had to work with, they did a good job. They just didn’t manage a miracle. Miracles don’t happen often, but the transformation in the minivan’s handling and ride made one seem at least possible.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      As with most things Chrysler, it’s less the fault of Government and more the fault of Daimler.
       
      I’m pretty sure that this and the Calibre were the cars that suffered most from Daimler’s trainwrecking of the product development process.  The minivans and Ram came later, after Chrysler’s staff had recovered somewhat, and the LX cars were mostly done before Daimler got involved.
       
      The Sebring, though, was right in the thick of it and, perhaps save for the Crossfire, it shows more than any other model.
       
      Personally, I could see myself buying a convertible, mostly because I like the idea of a relaxed-fit convertible and no one else makes one for under my yearly salary.

      • 0 avatar
        MrRams27

        The LX platform was indeed under Daimler supervision given that it is based off of the late 90′s-early 00′s E-class. The 2007 Sebring marked the worst point of the Daimler-Chrysler relationship. While Daimler heavily improved Mercedes’ lineup, they destroyed Chrysler’s. Daimler is the reason Chrysler went bankrupt. Period.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      I’ve driven a lot of rental cars in the past year and a half, and I have made trips of 1000km+ in both the Sebring sedan and convertible.
       
      The Sebring was easily the worst in class – mainly because everything looked and felt cheap, the ride was choppy, the handling poor, and the powertrain unrefined.  And that is compared to Malibu, Fusion, etc. – theoretically Chrysler should be compared to Cadillac, Lexus, and the like but they haven’t really been a premium brand for 40 years or so.
       
      I haven’t driven a 200 yet, but this car sounds like a big step in the right direction.
       
      I saw a 200 convertible at the local car show, and it no longer looked cheap at a quick glance, the interior was much improved and of course with no roof the weird Sebring roofline didn’t spoil the looks.
       
      I’ve done a couple of 1000km+ trips in new Grand Cherokees, and the new Pentastar (and the rest of the truck for that matter) impressed me.  Offering this engine in the 200 would be a big step up from the old Sebring engine.
       
      If they improved the ride quality, they can probably get by with sub par handling given this car’s semi plush cruising vessel mission.  Toyota does a brisk business selling with superb engines and marginal suspensions, and their customers seem happy enough.
       
      The only reason to buy a Sebring sedan would be because you couldn’t make the payments work on a Hyundai, or you were an unschooled rube who didn’t know any better.  Even though this is just a stopgap, an informed buyer might still choose one over some competitors on the strength of the interior or new engine.
       
      Chrysler’s got a way to go yet, but I like the path they are on.  The changes to their products in the past year or so are impressive.  I wish them well, partly out of rooting for the underdog, partly out of nostalgia for the sort of cars they quit making 40 years ago, and partly because as a Canadian taxpayer I would like to get at least some of my money back.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      How is it that people who read a car industry blog still manage to think that the bailout was about the quality (or lack thereof) of vehicles produced by the companies involved? Do these guys think that the purpose of the New Deal was to build bridges and roads, too?
       

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      No one thinks that “quality” is ever part of the equation when the government gets involved.  It is mostly about spreading some cash to those who will likely vote a certain way, and who will then return a portion of the cash back in the form of campaign “contributions.”  As far as Chrysler goes, it was just corporate welfare.  And it doesn’t matter who was responsible–Daimler or the Easter Bunny.  Their rotting corpse should have been allowed to die a merciful death two years ago.  But now we can all look forward to more cars no one really wants…at least until the next bailout comes around.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      They seem to have posted fairly solid sales growth as the economy recovers, so ~someone~ must want the products.  As mentioned above, I would like to see them succeed so I can at least get some of my tax money back.
       
      The other car making nations have had their own form of bailouts and market distorting policies over the years.  I’ll bet the heavily indebted Japanese government provides some form of assistance to help their industry rebuild after the terrible natural disasters of last month.

    • 0 avatar

      Perisoft
      Fox News / conservative talk tools who’ve listened to the BS rhetoric believe that the Bailout is directly related to the quality of the vehicles. In actuality, the bailout was needed because the people that wanted to get the Big 3′s cars could no longer get the bad loans to do so.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    So is the Avenger at least “sporty”?  (I looked on Chrysler’s website and saw that the new Avenger is available with “spoiler delete” which made me chuckle.  You could purposely make a fairly loaded V6 model look like a 4-cyl rental if you wanted to be “inconspicuous.”

    • 0 avatar

      It’ll be inconspicuous either way. About a decade ago we reached the point where a Camry was much more likely to sport an obvious spoiler than a CTS-V.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      There are still plenty of people for whom their own opinions are more important than those of total strangers. Why give a damn if it “looks like a 4-cyl rental” if looks and performs to your satisfaction? The only thing I can see a spoiler doing in real-world driving is limit rearward visibility to some degree.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      @Steve 65, I was thinking “Q-ship” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q-ship or Q-car http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q-car

      Sort of like if you took a Mustang GT, removed the spolier, trimmed back the dual pipes so they were barely visible under the bumper, painted those pipes flat black, removed the emblems… you get the picture?  I don’t need to advertise my vehicles ability.  Imagine a white Avenger V6, no spoiler, lightly tinted windows… I doubt you’d get much attention from the cops (as long as your in a tint legal state like mine.) 

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Gotcha. You were citing it as a positive option. I read it as slightly derisive.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Remove the emblems? Sacrilege!

    • 0 avatar
      7th Frog

      Call me crazy, but the refreshed Avenger with the new v6 appeals to me. None of the cars in this segment are thrillers but I think it would be a decent sleeper.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    It does have space-saving articulated trunk lid hinges.  Something Chrysler deleted from the revised LX cars

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The $1600 difference for the Sonata 2.0T has to be worth every penny.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Some competitors handle better, others ride better, but the Sonata Limited’s balance between the two might be the best among the segment’s major players. Unfortunately, none are outstanding driver’s cars.

    Thank you for that bit of truth; because it is spot on. None of these cars anymore are really sporting. The Accord has gotten bloated. The Camry SE gets over-deserved props because of HP/Torque/Weight numbers that defy its 0 to 60 and 1/4 mile time capabilities; but it still is numb as a ’76 Oldsmobile and it still wallows. The Fusion in “sport” doesn’t cut it; nor does the Malibu V6 LTZ or any other car in this class. The Kia Optima turbo probably comes the closest. Can’t believe I even just wrote that – Kia and sporty and sedan.

    If you want a “performance” sedan, and 80% of America doesn’t, you need to go higher in price (Infiniti, Lexus IS series, BMW, Audi) or you need to go RWD (Charger, 300, or find a used G8).

    Drives me crazy when people try to put these average American family sedans into a performance category.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The closest to a “sports sedan” in this segment would be the Mazda6 (or maybe the Kizashi if one doesn’t take into account its smaller size).

      Other than that, the Optima in SX trim (not just the turbo) would be your best bet.

    • 0 avatar
      lzaffuto

      The Nissan Altima V6 may not be a true “sports sedan” but it is damn sporty for a family sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yeah doesn’t the V6 Altima even have some much hp it threatens to overwhelm the cars suspension?  (Wait that sounds more like a dragster than a sports car.)  

    • 0 avatar

      There are a few good ones, just no outstanding ones. I’d like to see an outstanding one.
       
      Hyundai is developing a four-door off the Genesis Coupe. Very interested in seeing how this turns out.

      The Fusion Sport handles pretty well, but falls short of being engaging and has a rough ride.

      With a manual transmission the Altima V6 suffers from severe wheel hop. But you can’t get the manual in the sedan anymore. The coupe also has one of the worst rides I’ve experienced. It’s been too long since I drove the sedan, so I’m not sure if it’s the same.

      The Camry SE is better than many expect. Then again, I say this based on a test drive back in 2007–that occurred right after driving a Sebring. The context might have positively influenced my perceptions.

      Basic problem is that none of these cars are throughly engaging, though some perform decently. The 200 actually has more power than any of the others, including the Altima.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The Camry SE is probably the most overtly sporty midsize sedan you can buy.  The Kizashi is kind of soft, and the Mazda6 is highly overrated in the “sporty” department.  The Camry, in SE trim, actually has some edge to it.  I haven’t driven the Kia, but Hyundai’s offerings aren’t sporty, either.
       
      But you’re right: people who complain about a car being “soulless” in this class really do need some perspective.  The last really sporty car was the first Mazda6 and it’s long, long gone.

    • 0 avatar
      tallnikita

      I had an amazing drive on LTZ in Northern Cali on the most winding mountain road, it was an excellent car.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “If you want a “performance” sedan, and 80% of America doesn’t, you need to go higher in price (Infiniti, Lexus IS series, BMW, Audi) or you need to go RWD (Charger, 300, or find a used G8).”

      What about the Subaru WRX???

      Just Sayin’.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Originally, the term “sports sedan” was in reference to a Chevy four-door pillarless hardtop, either in Bel-Air, Caprice, Impala, Chevelle or Corvair garb. It was a very attractive model and it had nothing to do with driving dynamics. I miss them terribly. It’s all in “how you look”, and they looked mighty fine, indeed.

  • avatar
    DeadFlorist

    I suppose this is as good a place as any to throw this one out: What happened to soft seats in cars?  The ones you, to borrow Michael’s words, sat in rather than on?  They disappeared out of all American full and midsizers at about the same time in 1995.  Just a fashion thing in favor leather-over-granite seating services or is there a better reason for the death of the good old American driving-your-living-room-down-the-street overstuffed leather/velour?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Good old American couch seats give you a raging backache after two hours on the road – no thanks!

      I agree with HoldenSSVSE though – there is a place for non-sporting melba-toast sedans. Especially in the vast middle of this country where the roads don’t curve. I think the 200 isn’t ugly, has a nice-enough interior, and is probably far faster in a straight line than it has any need of being. BMW already has the market for BMWs sewn up, this thing is for my Grandmother, and that is OK. Having had all the mid-size boring-barges as rentals multiple times, if I was in the market for such, cheap would probably win over almost everything else. Luckily, I have no interest in that market at all.

      All the Panther fanboiz on here will be happy to know that Hertz has blessed me with a Mercury Marquis “Ultimate (rental car) Edition” this week, in a lovely shade of under-cover cop car silver. For some reason, not near as floaty as the last one I had, but still a completely useless excuse for a car. Endless fun pitching it sideways at walking speed on the damp Rochester streets with the traction control off though. I am pretty sure the tires are made out of banana peels.

    • 0 avatar
      potatobreath

      I like the sofa-like cloth seats in the current Impala. I don’t sink into them, but I do find them comfy. I like Nissan fabric seats too. Maybe it’s because the fabric doesn’t feel industrial-grade Scotchguard-protected.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Owner of a 1991 Buick Lesabre here. The soft seats provide almost no support and are by far the worst part of the car. I must admit I haven’t driven anything lately from GM, but after owning several, GM seems to be the king of not properly aligning seat to s Give me a firm ergonomic seat i can sit in on a road trip anyday!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Car and Driver once criticized the seats in the 2000-2007 4th Generation Taurus as being “Mercedes firm” (which was their way of saying “rock hard.”)  Having a 4th gen Taurus as a distirct vehicle I’d say; “Hey at least they’re fairly comfy on long trips!” 

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Soft marshmallow seats disappeared about the same time as soft marshmallow suspensions. Putting beanbag seats in cars with canyon-carving aspirations simply doesn’t work, because you’d be crashing into the door or the console all the time.

      • 0 avatar

        I definitely disagree with the assertion that seats must be rock-hard to be supportive and/or comfortable. For instance, I’ve always found Volvo seats to be extremely comfortable and ergonomic, and they generally provide a lot of support without being floppy. The front seats in my 06 Honda Accord, on the other hand, are ergonomically shaped and supportive but are just too firm to be truly comfortable on long drives. The seats in current-gen Accords seem to be even worse in this regard.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    The first thing I noticed was the grille. They even tried to make it look like Sonata. Hell, it IS a Sonata. And the 1975 Ford Granada was a Mercedes Benz 280….

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Actually, I’d say the grills on the 200 and 300 are more like the “waterfall” grill on the Genesis sedan; stick a center divider on the 200 and 300 and voila, you get the Genesis grill.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      This grille looked very familiar to me, both on this car and the 300. Then I saw a Pacifica on the road, an increasingly rare event, and instantly knew where the grille came from.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    It is downright funny to see a profile or front three quarter perspective photo of the 200. Suddenly, the carefully framed front and rear fascia detail photos become meaningless. I could almost imagine someone being fooled into visiting the dealer to see the new 200s, only to be disappointed when he gets there and the same old awkward Sebring is all he finds.

    • 0 avatar

      Surely Ralph Gilles has someone on his staff of designers that could have done something with the roofline and C pillar.  The greenhouse on the Sebring is, for better or worse, distinctive. I’m no body engineer but it seems to me that they could have added a crease or two  to the  C pillar and roof to give it a more formal look and something that looks different from the Sebring.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Everyone wants to adopt the idiotic arched roofline even though the two purest versions of it have been soundly rejected by the market. Nissan actually used to sell Sentras, before they made them look like they wanted to be Citroen 2CVs. The old Cirrus was a good looking car, but somehow it morphed into this sad stand-in for owning a mid size sedan that exhibits the benefits of 100 years of mass production instead of just the liabilities of 45 years of regulatory bloat. I don’t know how easy it would have been to fix the roof, but making it more modern would have actually involved reducing the rear seat headroom and visibility.

    • 0 avatar

      Ronnie,
       
      The difficulty isn’t in finding someone to draw a new roofline. It’s the cost and time required to engineer and manufacture new steel parts.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      Don’t forget the cost of tooling for new glass.  I think that’s one of the most expensive parts of redesigning the greenhouse.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I imagine there is a lot of rollover design that needs to be redone when you start significantly changing the pillars, too.  I really, really hate the Cpillar on this car, though.  It looks equally awful on the Cruzzzzzzzze.

  • avatar

    The same company that once made the ’64 NYer. The Imperial. And that paragon of deco, the 1960 Valiant. How low can you go? Only Chubby Checker would be impressed.

  • avatar

    I should add that it’s not yet clear how much impact the recent changes have on reliability. Chrysler claims their warranty claims are way down. But not yet enough owners of the 2011 Chryslers and Dodges signed up to report stats.
     
    To help with the Car Reliability Survey, with just about any car:
     
    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    vvk

    This is a $19k car being sold for ten grand more.

  • avatar

    An all-new Fiat-based midsize sedan is only a couple of years away.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    I’m really surprised that one can purchase a Chrysler 200 V6 for about $3k less than a Dodge Avenger V6. I know the Avenger has more options in it at that price but geeze, a stripped out car with power was supposed to be Plymouth’s bit.
     
    I also find it interesting that Chryco is advertising the 200 much more than the Avenger. Most Dodge ads only show the Charger, Journey and Durango.

  • avatar
    eldard

    That’s a nice little Italian car.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Lipstick on a pig, ay? What is even worse, they tease you with the concept 200 and then.. this.. That just kills it for me.. they should’ve named it Sebring Limited or something.. and stuck a coach roof on it. I am tempted to test drive one for the pentastar v6 however.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I’ve driven a 200, and the handling seemed much improved over a friend’s Sebring. I should have taken into account that Sebring had nearly 70k on the odometer. I can’t comment on the difference in the seats, my friend salvaged a pair or recaro seats from a Porsche and has been installing them in every car he’s owned for over 20 years. He puts the original seats back -in perfect condition- when he sells the cars. I should be asking Sajeev this, but given the underpinnings of the car, couldn’t a competent suspension shop tweak it even more than it’s been already, without disturbing the granny ride?  I hate to see that engine power go to waste.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

       I should be asking Sajeev this, but given the underpinnings of the car, couldn’t a competent suspension shop tweak it even more than it’s been already, without disturbing the granny ride? 

      If the Avenger has a fatter swaybar, you could find some suspension tweaking parts for the 200.  It’s like taking an MKZ and getting the swaybars off a Fusion Sport and adding them to the Lincoln.  I won’t hold out hope that Bilstein will develop shocks for this platform, although that might be pretty entertaining as a setup.  Although I did find a suspension shop in CO that tweaks Kia Amantis as part of its business so I guess anything is possible.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’ve said it before more than once, but my wife and I were quite impressed with the interior on the 200. The styling looks like leftover Saturn Ion rooflines, but it’s a start. Performance? The realities of commuting make this point moot – get a BMW.

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi ought to take notes.

  • avatar
    dejal1

    In his Chrysler Town & Country review, Jack Baruth noted that he was easily able to keep up with a 200 driven by another journalist.
     
    Which means what?  2 different drivers, 2 completely different cars.   Have Jack bring the T + C and 200 to a track or autocross cross and burn the tires off of both of them and get back to us with times.
     
     
     

  • avatar
    detlump

    Nice review.  Interesting to compare with that review from the Freep a while back
     
    I doubt many of these buyers are interested in driver’s cars, they want something new, quiet and looking good on the inside.  It should do better than Sebring.  Sad really to have tarnished that name, it was a good one.
     
    I’m beginning to think I should hang out at Farmer John’s on Haggerty and I might see a review in progress!

  • avatar
    CraigSu

    Speaking of lipstick on a pig, what’s this fascination auto manufacturers have nowadays with engine covers?  Are they supposed to actually have a practical purpose or are they just window dressing?  Inquiring minds want to know…

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Noise reduction, with a side order of styling and keeping the hands of the great unwashed off the mechanical bits.

    • 0 avatar

      They help muffle engine noise somewhat, specifically valve clatter.

    • 0 avatar
      Canucknucklehead

      Engine covers are supposed to keep rodents from eating electrical bits but they also serve other purposes. One is to keep shade tree mechanics from doing their thing. Another is the fact that modern castings, although light and compact, are not exactly particularly attractive. Have a look at the Chevy LS V-8 heads. Great design but hardly things of beauty.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      They are the culmination of the great Accountant Takeover of the automotive industry, which started in about 1960. It was slow at first, but the artistry of engineering gave way to “if it works and it fits, we’re done with it” school of thought. The accountants are now at war only with the marketing department, and a fancy plastic cover is a small concession to those hated executives across the hall who subtract valuable individual pennies from the profitability of the modern auto. Pennies! It’s un-American, I tell you. Think of the UAW babies they’re killing. There oughta be a law.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    We don’t just review cars to trash them around here…

    Ahh – carefully worded. Interpreted strictly, one can take that to mean that trashing cars in reviews is not TTAC’s sole reason for existing (cf. Farago’s tenure) – but it’s nonetheless possible that there are certain cars which you review only so you can trash them!

  • avatar
    mculbert

    “New Chrysler engine” and “Homegrown Chrysler automatic” are two terms that don’t inspire confidence.
     

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    I had a Sebring rental in 2009 and it was by far the worst car I have driven in the last twenty years. It was Tempo bad and the sticker price was not low at all.
     
    One would have to be seriously mentally challenged to go out and buy one of these things. Really, when you could buy a one year old ex-rental for half the original MSRP.

  • avatar

    Chrysler should have left the name as “SEBRING” and replaced it during the next model cycle with the RWD 200c Concept.
    It’s not a bad car – especially for its price, but, it’s definitely not a driver’s car. It really is, just a Sebring with new makeup.
    http://www0.epinions.com/review/2011_Chrysler_200_epi/content_538737806980

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    The segment may not contain exceptional drivers’ cars as a general rule, but that doesn’t mean there is no meaningful differentiation as between segment competitors in sportiness.  The Altima V6, Mazda 6 and Sonata 2.0T are all relatively sporty family sedans that don’t flop over on their door handles at the first bend in the road.  None will threaten a 335i or G37s, but they aren’t cream-puffs, either.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    More Jack Baruth minivan street racing fan fiction, this time from Michael Karesh.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    This is going to be a very popular rental car!

  • avatar
    Bridge2farr

    “Owner of a 1991 Buick Lesabre here” I would venture to say that GM’s seats may have evolved somewhat within the last 20 years. Just a guess.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes and No. Like the rest of GM, their products are a lot of hit and miss. One vehicle has good seats and some are terrible. As many a reviewer will tell you, even when repeatedly being pointed out, GM still refuses to make needed changes. I have driven in a Chevy Malibu and have been very comfortable for hours at a time. I could not say the same for a Corvette, a 1500 PU, or a CTS.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Over 28 large for a mediocre compact car? Guess I’ll stay in the pre-owned aisle and drive cars that are a hell of a lot nicer for that kind of [chump] change.

    • 0 avatar
      highrpm

      @ Contrarian, I agree completely.  $28k is not chump change.  What does that come up to for payments?  $500 a month?  That’s a big bill to stomach for the pleasure of driving a warmed over Sebring. 

      You can buy a very nice lightly used car for that money.  A two year old Lexus ES300 is so much nicer than this car.  So is a lightly used BMW 3 series. 

      I predict that resale value will be very poor for this car.  I can stomach driving a two year old Chrysler 200 if I pay $6k for a low mileage example…

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      @Contrarian:
      You’ve got a point but compact car??? This warmed-over placeholder is within a couple inches of the late 80′s C-Body New Yorker!

  • avatar
    mjz

    Chrysler/Fiat should be congratulated for pulling this off in a years time. They took a car that was the laughing stock of the industry and with little time and money have at least made it into an acceptable alternative to the other blandtastic choices in this segment.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Buying a new car is a huge decision, made larger by the high prices cars go for these days. The punishment for making a bad decision is near worthless trade in values after a few short years. Getting raped again with a worthless trade is what drove people to cars with high resale values. Who really cares about driving dynamics, bailouts, Union vs Non Union, Green issues, etc when it’s really about getting around and not getting fleeced operating the car and eventually trading it for another.
    Ask yourself what this 30K car is going to be worth in 5 years after they flood the market with rentals, or if problems occur with the vehicle. Everyone has their favorite story of the Toyota or Honda that sold for 3000 dollars despite having 200K on the clock, faded paint, no radio and needing an exhaust pipe. That’s the value equation that no matter what, you still have some worth in an old Toyota. Steve Lang has told many stories of resale from the auction lines that right or wrong are what they are.
    This is Chrysler’s entry in the market, it is what it is, and they will sell a certain number of them because people like what they see. But it’s not going to unseat anyone else nor endure for long. I guess if we want Chrysler around as an alternative maker of cars we can nod our heads and say it’s a great effort.
    But let’s not assume it’s a game changer. Chrysler has great ad people, very clever and good at what they do. Now it’s up to FIAT to make changes that make a difference.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      That’s half of it.
       
      The other half is what is that 30K car going to be like in 5 years if you don’t trade it in.  If the past 20 years of Chrysler are any indication it’ll be an unreliable heap with all the prestige of the $6K beater that it now is.
       
      Chrysler’s success stories of the past decade are the cars which were different enough to overlook that they were Chryslers.  Honda and Toyota didn’t make a PT Cruiser.  Or a 300.  Or a Wrangler.  Or a Ram, at least until gas prices were so high it no longer mattered.
       
      Selling vanilla takes quality.  Chrysler is pissing into the wind here.
       
       

      • 0 avatar

        So…my reply to all these posts about “chryslers are crap after 24 months” is this.
        We have a 92 Dodge 250 van still running.
        A 99 LHS still running.
        A 2004 Stratus still running.
        A 2002 Stratus I still have running. (Ready to swap for a Charger)
        All these cars have had minimal repairs.
        The Dodge van had a serious trans seal repair because we didn’t drive it enough.
        The LHS needed tierods because my dad was too lazy to replace the bad front tires; the rods rattled loose. A relay blew on the LHS last year.
        The 04 stratus has been trouble free.
        My 02 stratus was trouble free for 7yrs. then during a terrible chicago winter where the HI was Zero for a week, that’s when stuff on my car started to break down (as did many Hondas and Chevys during that winter, the dealers were full of break downs).
        My Stratus also needed all new ball joints at 130K…which is pretty good (i interned in a suspension components factory).

        So my question is….the fact that after 5 years our Chrysler products have been perfectly fine, and only seem to start having age issues around 7yrs (to which they’re still not major) … are we the only family out there that seem to have decent luck and reliability out of our Chryslers? Seriously….all I hear are horror stories, but ours keep going. Why are we devoid of these Chrysler horrors?

        I go into my future Charger purchase with confidence it will be flawless for about 7 years and 100K miles just as our past vehicles have been.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      You may have your ‘premium’ Vanilla, Aspade– but I will be damned if I’m covertly insulted for liking store-brand Rocky Road.
       
      I should think it’s hard being such a coward that one wouldn’t own a Chrysler vehicle because he’s worried about the perceptions of others, about monetary value or if the thing’s going to break-down.
       
      The Chrysler car is not what you’ve described. Not at all. Check your sources, son.
       

      • 0 avatar
        zeus01

        “I should think it’s hard being such a coward that one wouldn’t own a Chrysler vehicle because he’s worried about the perceptions of others, about monetary value or if the thing’s going to break-down.”

        PSST! Hey, buddy! Wanna buy some stock in my new company?? I manufacture 8-track tape players! I’m bringin’em back baby, and the forcast sez everyone and their dog wants in on this nostalgia trip. Don’t miss this ground floor opportunity! Shares are only ten bucks each, but that’s sure to quadruple by Christmas! What? “No way in bloody hell” you say? What a coward!

        Or maybe it’s not a case of you being a coward but rather, simply you not being anywhere near that freaking STUPID. Just like those of us who would rather not risk throwing our money down a rathole by buying a Chrysler in the hope that maybe, just maybe we won’t get the one built on a Sunday morning. Cowards? Uh, no.

  • avatar
    jacksonbart

    It reminds me of 1990s GM, except they didn’t revamp the interior

  • avatar
    John R

    A comparable Sonata lists for $1600 more (worth it sounds like), does this hold true for the Optima Turbo as well?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I believe the Optima is a few hundred dollars cheaper than the Sonata across the board, making the 200 look even worse by comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      But you don’t get telescoping steering column with the Optima, do you?  For that matter does the Chrysler have a tilt and telescope?  (I know the Sonata does.)

  • avatar

    I believe the wheel telescopes in both the Optima (except for the base car with manual transmission) and the 200.

  • avatar

    It’s too bad Chrysler couldn’t put the new Uconnect Touch computer in these cars – or at least make it an option.
    Otherwise, this is a great car and it offers pleny to a first time buyer willing to spend $26,000.

  • avatar

    How much is the price difference between rental-rate Camry after say 100K miles and Camry XLE? I drove rental Camry and it had horrible interior quality not different from Sebring. I do not think that mass market $30K cars hold value well. I never interested in Camrys but $60K Mercedes E-class will cost about $15K  after 130K miles (I made the estimate some time ago). So you loose $45K after 130K miles and this decent mileage (close to 200K km). Modern cars are in good shape and reliable at this mileage. If you buy mass market car you loose like $15K on trade in and it will be even more reliable and less expensive to maintain than Mercedes. So why people buy new Mercedes even all people care about is the resale value (I do not BTW).

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      There is no such thing as a “rental-rate” Camry. Hertz et al buy them the same as civilians do. I’ve had everything from pretty basic 4 cyls to loaded with leather/Nav/V6s as rentals, and they all have the same craptastic interior. The fancier ones have a few more toys and buttons.

      If you can’t tell the difference between an E-class and a Camry, and/or that difference means nothing to you, then you really should just buy a Camry. You are correct, you will spend a lot less money. But money isn’t everything.

      • 0 avatar

        XLE has nicer materials than basic Camry. German cars are over engineered for American roads. Why do you need all that effort if you drive in straight line at 75 mph max day after day? Mercedes E-class has numb steering like in computer controller, no feeling what so ever. Toyota and Lexus are copied after Mercedes I guess. I have no desire to bug Mercedes E-class even used one. People buy Mercedes for prestige mostly, like used to buy Lincoln or Cadillac.

  • avatar
    smokingclutch

    So, which of the midsize sedans still offer a manual transmission on their “performance” engine?  I’d say V6, but it seems like turbo-4s are replacing V6s in several of these.  Note – I am not including the coupes.
     
    - Mazda6 – nope, the V6 is no longer available with stick, the first time Mazda has not offered a manual with their top engine in their midsize sedan.
    - Toyota Camry – not since the 1998-2001 generation.
    - Honda Accord – only offered on the previous generation’s V6, and then only briefly.
    - Hyundai Sonata – not for the last two generations.
    - Nissan Altima – not anymore, apparently.  Was it offered in the current generation at all?
    - Ford Fusion – no.
    - Chevy Mailbu – not even on the base engine.
    - Dodge Avenger – no.
    - Chrysler 200 – no.
    - Suzuki Kizashi – the 3.6L got cancelled, but it probably would not have been offered there.
    - Mitsubishi Galant – not on the V6.
    - Subaru Legacy – not on the flat-6, but the 2.5L turbo is really the performance option, and that is ONLY offered with the 6-speed manual.
    - VW CC – only on the turbo-4 – not on the 3.6L VR6.
     
    I really can’t think of any other traditional midsize offered.  I suppose it’s a function of the fact that the “compacts” like the Civic, Mazda3, Cruze, Focus, Jetta, and Corolla are the size of midsizers from 10-15 years ago, and they’re all offered with stick on the top-line engines, combined with the fact that the base 4-cylinders aren’t slugs anymore.

    Still, if you want a decent-sized sedan with a performance oriented engine and a manual transmission, you have to get a Subaru Legacy, or move into the near-lux realm of the Infiniti G35 and BMW 3-series.
     
    Hmm, makes me wonder – is the Dodge Challenger the heaviest car offered with a manual transmission these days?

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    Sounds like the basic Sebring/Avenger platform–which seemed solid enough, but horrifically under-developed, in 2007–has been upgraded to a defensible mid-pack player.

    I’m assuming that Fiat will clean-sheet Chrysler’s offerings in this segment for the next major redesign, basing it on one of their existing platforms. But given that the Daimler-Chrysler era wasn’t without its high points (the Charger, Magnum, Challenger, and Grand Cherokee), it’s nice to see its products go out with some dignity.


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