The Chrysler 200 (formerly called the Chrysler Sebring) sedan and convertible were revamped in 2011, and it wasn’t a moment too soon. The Sebring had been received poorly, for inexpensive interiors and overwrought sheetmetal, not to mention a general lack of refinement. With the 200, Chrysler corrected course, but only brought its mid-sizer up to par, while so many family sedans had been truly reinvented.
The 200 sedan and convertible soldier on for one more year, before they’re expected to be replaced in one way or the other, whether by a new four-door, or even a utility vehicle or hatchback. For the 2014 model year, the changes are very minor. Value continues to be the 200’s strongest offering, though its handsomely styled interior is a win for some shoppers.
The silhouette of the Chrysler 200 has a way of tricking you into thinking the cabin is somewhat small for a mid-size sedan–and the combination of the tall dash, wide seats, and narrower glass areas add to that visual trick. Once you climb in you’ll be a convert; whether by the numbers or from inside, the 200 stacks up really well against segment leaders like the Hyundai Sonata. Even in back, there’s enough space for two adults, or three in a pinch, although the high beltline might require some Dramamine.
Although the 200 looks dated on the outside, it feels up to Volkswagen standards on the inside, and it includes materials and finishes that are a world better than the old hard plastics. Likewise, Chrysler has doubled up on insulation to make the 200’s interior a very quiet place (except for the coarse four-cylinder engine’s note), and softened the ride.
While handling and ride quality might still not be its forte, the 200’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and six-speed automatic are a strong, refined combination and the base four-cylinder and six-speed automatic is a tolerable combo. Stay away from the base four-speed automatic in the LX; they’re mostly relegated to fleets anyway.
The Chrysler 200 is missing some of the active-safety features now offered in other mid-size sedans, yet it’s a safe, secure pick, with top ratings in previous years from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and federal government.
Equipment for the base LX model is generous, but it still doesn’t include Bluetooth hands-free calling connectivity. Audio systems come with an auxiliary input jack, but base models also lack a USB input or iPod control. Mid-level Touring sedans offer the V-6 as optional and add automatic climate control, a Homelink garage door opener, a power driver seat, and satellite radio. A sunroof is an option, as is Bluetooth and a DVD/hard-drive audio system with 28GB of storage. At the top of the lineup is the leather-lined Limited model, with options on that include navigation with live traffic and voice commands, plus Boston Acoustics premium sound.
Chrysler has a special “S” package offered on all models, too. It adds 18-inch polished painted wheels, a black finish grille, fog lamp bezels, projector fog lamps, black headlamps, and a black Chrysler badge.
The Chrysler 200 Convertible returns for 2014 as well, offering the same two engines but with somewhat different equipment levels. These models, while a mainstay in rental-car fleets, are reasonably good picks for those who want a convertible on a tight budget and plan to cruise but don’t need a vehicle that feels sporty. Back-seat space and trunk space in 200 Convertibles, whether you go for the hardtop or soft-top, are better than in most other drop-tops, but the body itself is subject to lots of flex.