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Old 04-18-2011, 08:21 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited Sedan Full Test



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Automotive manufacturers have tried it several times over the years. The practice was a matter of survival for some (Audi), and for others it was a schizophrenic fit of badge-swapping and marketing spin. Most of them regretted doing it. Volkswagen changed the name of our beloved Rabbit to the Euro-market Golf, to Rabbit, and back again to Golf. More recently, Ford tried changing the name from Taurus to 500 and back to Taurus. Whoops.

Now Chrysler is rolling the dice by changing the name of the Sebring, the perennial punch line to rental-car jokes, to the 2011 Chrysler 200 Sedan (and convertible). And do you know what? We're backing Chrysler on the idea and here's why.

New Buyers
The 2011 Chrysler 200 is transformed from the Sebring in many ways that we say, go ahead Chrysler, discard the Sebring albatross. This essentially all-new 200 Limited deserves to be taken seriously. Those who have never heard of a Sebring might actually consider the 200 on its own merits. Those who have rented a Sebring wouldn't know the 200 was ever evolved from the Sebring.




The 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited Sedan we tested proved to be far more than a Marshall Mathers marketing maneuver. Sure, the new sheet metal and "Imported from Detroit" spin is intended to entice younger, cooler buyers. This car needs buyers, period: not just fleet sales with which the Sebring is currently synonymous. But the truth, and the 200 sedan's real buyer, lies somewhere between the exaggerated 8 Mile image and Florida vacationers or retirees.

Each time a staffer came home from a night in the 200, he or she would often nod and agree that the 200 is a genuinely solid sedan. And we mean this independent of the underwhelming, departing Sebring. The 200 easily competes with any midsize sedan in the segment especially figuring price into the equation.

New Engine
While a new 173-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder "world engine" is standard on the 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited, an extra $1,795 upgrades the sedan with Chrysler's latest 3.6-liter V6. In the Chrysler 200, it produces 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque plenty for this 3,600-pound sedan.
The Chrysler 200 deserves the attention its marketing initially forced upon us, but not for that reason.
At our test track, the new Chrysler 200 Limited sedan liked a fair amount of wheelspin to reach 60 mph in 6.9 seconds (6.6 seconds with 1-foot rollout as on a drag strip) which was only slightly quicker than when we left the standard traction control on. Our best quarter-mile time trap speed (a strong 92.5 mph) occurred on the first 15.2-second run down the strip, but we're at loss to explain why, by the fourth run (also at 15.2 seconds), the speed had steadily dropped to a low of 88.9 mph. In any case, those acceleration figures put it in the heart of the V6-powered family sedan segment.

We noticed the brakes began to show signs of fading after the combined effects of braking runs and quarter-mile passes. This is nothing abnormal during testing, and the much heavier 200 convertible we track tested a couple weeks prior scored its front rotors after the same routine, so the 200's brakes could stand either better pads, better cooling or more heat capacity to earn our full approval. Still, 60-0 stopping required 127 feet, about average for the segment.

Over 944 miles of mixed driving, the 200 came close to the EPA's fuel consumption estimates (19 city/29 highway/22 combined) as our own worst/best/average tanks came in at 20/25/22 mpg, respectively.

New Transmission
A six-speed automatic with left/right manual shift gate is used on the top-of-the-line 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited. Ninety-five percent of the time, the transmission goes about its business without notice: smooth, silent shifts and even near-seamless upshifts at wide-open throttle.

During the other 5 percent, we found ourselves nudging those self-selected ratios to avoid being caught in 6th gear while climbing hills or even tooling through our neighborhood. As a common fuel-sipping practice these days, the transmission is eager to get to top gear and loath to surrender it with a gentle application of throttle especially up a grade, with or without cruise control engaged.

New Suspension and Steering
From our everyday and track-testing experiences, we're pretty convinced the chief engineer told the chassis team, "OK, guys: Throw everything away, start over and really try to nail the ride and handling thing this time, will ya?" Everything is new: geometry, spring rates, dampers, bushings, ride height, roll center as well as the steering gear, pump and tires.
The result is a standout example of how to provide both a supple, well-controlled ride on a wide variety of surfaces as well as (nearly) the best handling in the segment. To top it off, the hydraulic-assist steering feels entirely natural, precise and friction-free without any unnecessary heaviness.




Compared to a Camry, the Chrysler 200 Limited is just as capable of absorbing surface impact and road grain, but it's not a marshmallow. The 200 is less flinty than an Accord, less stiff-legged than a Mazda 6 or Fusion, and as supple and confident as an Altima and still out-handles them all by a significant margin.

In our instrumented handling tests, the 2011 Chrysler 200 delivered 0.85g on the skid pad and snaked its way through the slalom cones at 66.1 mph. To say we were pleasantly surprised at this front-drive family sedan's at-the-limit-performances (with standard stability control disabled) would be an understatement. One might think this test car was fitted with blocky, summer-performance tires, but that's not the case. The tires are simple, conservatively sized P225/50R18 all-seasons.

New Packaging
The $24,495 Limited comes outfitted with an impressive list of standard equipment like leather seating (heated front, 60/40 split-fold rear), automatic climate control, 30GB hard drive, CD/DVD/MP3 media player with a 6.5-inch touchscreen and six speakers. Also present are aux/USB ports plus streaming Bluetooth audio/phone connection, voice command and one year of Sirius Satellite Radio service. To that list, our test car added the V6 upgrade with requisite oil cooler and dual exhaust ($1,795), sunroof ($845) and Garmin navigation ($395) for an as-tested total of $27,530.



Some of the 200 Limited's standard items are pricey options on competitors' sedans, and some of the Chrysler's options are not even available on those cars, so value is another strong suit of the new 200.
One thing is clear, however. The 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited sedan is a car that feels one big step closer to being competitive. Its balance of ride comfort and capability is spot-on, and the powerful V6 exacts only a small penalty in fuel economy compared to the standard four-cylinder engine.

The standard infotainment equipment meets (or exceeds) current market demand for such gadgetry, yet the usefulness and appearance of the interior isn't sacrificed in the process.

The 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited deserves the attention the marketing campaign initially forced upon us, but not for that reason. This car is more than an evolved Sebring, it's the competitive family sedan that Chrysler should have been building all along. We're pleased to see Chrysler has spent the time and effort on the 200 sedan to bring it up to a standard that not only eclipses its predecessor in every measurable way, but also one that allows it to keep its head above the water in the crowded pool of midsize family sedans.
http://www.insideline.com/chrysler/2...full-test.html
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:38 AM   #2
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Those who have rented a Sebring wouldn't know the 200 was ever evolved from the Sebring.
wait, wha?
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:06 PM   #3
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That had me too. Either this is a really major change, or the editor's pockets were stuffed a little when he was handed the keys.

Nick
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:29 PM   #4
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This is the car that the Auto columnist at the detroit newspaper resigned over, when he called it how he saw it, and chrysler, as an advertiser tried to throw it's weight around.
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:27 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by White out View Post
That had me too. Either this is a really major change, or the editor's pockets were stuffed a little when he was handed the keys.

Nick
yeah, i'm gonna have to go with the latter.
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:52 AM   #6
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Actually, the car may well be a good one. Here's some reading on it:

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/201...-chrysler-200/

Quote:
Let’s get this out of the way: The Chrysler 200 is a good car. I’m serious. If you are currently driving a 2001 Lexus ES300, a car which ruled its particular roost at the time, you can drive it to a Chrysler dealership and find that the 200 beats it in everything from seat comfort to quarter-mile time, all while costing far less in 2011 dollars than the Lexus did a decade ago in 2001 bucks. No kidding. It’s a nice car.

...

My reading of the DetNews 200 piece is this: Scott felt needed some wobble and he decided the safest place to do it would be with a car that:

- is based on a car with a long history of being attacked by the press;
- has very low sales expectations;
- will be replaced soon in any event;
- doesn’t seem to be particularly critical to the success of Chrysler.

It reminds me of one of my dorm-mates in school who, whenever he was in a bad mood, always “busted some **** up” — but not before looking around carefully to make sure he didn’t bust any valuable **** up. The 200 had to look like a safe target. By calling the car a “dog” (which it isn’t, really) and exercising his venom on it for a while, Scott would regain some of his credibility and self-respect at the expense of a loser. He could safely kick someone when they were down. Forget the fact that the 200 is a decent car, that it’s built by people who could really use some good news in their lives, and that the men and women who worked to re-design the 200 deserve better than a series of cheap shots in return for their honest and mostly successful efforts. Journalism is like playing God. Ripping on a car is easy, cheap, fun. You stand in judgment of others without consequence.

Except, of course, when there is a consequence.
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Old 04-19-2011, 06:26 PM   #7
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I think truth is somewhere in the middle.

I think that the average person won't equate 200 with Sebring because, well, most don't care about cars like we do. The fact is they took a woeful and embarrassing car and made it ok. With limited funds and timing and a production scale that dictates this to be a refresh leaving hard parts in place, that is a major accomplishment. They might sell a few to buyers in showrooms, and renters won't think to immediately avoid Chrysler for their next purchase.

Changes in the auto industry takes years, and the reputation follows that. From the time a good idea hits the drawing board, to when it's generally accepted as a good car, it's almost a 10 year time frame.
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Old 04-19-2011, 06:39 PM   #8
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I haven't driven a 200 but I've seen a few on the road, it's a pretty sharp looking car. It's far more appealing than a Camry or Accord is to me. Have you been in a new Camry? Gross.
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Old 04-19-2011, 06:45 PM   #9
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If it's a big improvement over the Sebring, that's great. It doesn't mean more people will buy it, and it doesn't guarantee it will be any more reliable. It's still a step in the right direction though.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:11 AM   #10
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And it doesn't mean nobody will think it's not the same car. To use a legal phrase, a moron in a hurry could tell they're the same car. Better version of the car, sure, i'll give you that but it isn't difficult. Even people who drove the old one won't be able to tell? not so much.

I'd rather have a Malibu. Only about 25% of what this car fugly have been fixed.That c-pillar and everything within about a foot either way of it need to be changed before the car stops looking like a rolled piece of poo. They polished the poo, but it's still poo.
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:56 PM   #11
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^^Profile yes, front or rear no. Side by side it's obvious, but how many people actually bought the Sebring?
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:03 PM   #12
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Wow, the new face of Chrysler. It looks soooo new and different from the Sebring.......
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