Review: The 2011 Chrysler 200 is better than the average car

2012 Chrysler 200 ext front

Pssst – I’ve got a secret for you. It’s an automotive journalist’s insight into one of the best ways to ascertain a car line. Instead of basing your opinion solely on the top of the line model that the automakers give you to test – do the opposite and drive the base trim. If a car impresses at that level, you’re on to a good thing.

To the depths with journalists who disagree with this method – it works damn-it!

Let me explain. A few months back, I got a chance to drive the 2011 Chrysler 200 in Northern California as a sneak peek. I tried the lower level models – which were surprisingly good – then worked my way up. In the past four months, I have driven just about every version of the 2011 Chrysler 200. Those drives have cleansed my palate from the vile taste left by the Chrysler Sebring it replaced.

The old Chrysler Sebring was, to be kind, terribly average.

Yes, there are a few carryovers from the Sebring to the 200, but not as much as you might think. The overall silhouette is the same and some exterior design is reminiscent of the Sebring – but things change up close. Everything is smooth, soft and clean outside.

The real story is the new interior.

2012 Chrysler 200 int

As an overall design, the interior is staid and mature with very few thrills. With that said, I challenge just about any competitor to out-quality the 2011 Chrysler 200’s interior – especially on the Touring and Limited versions. I’ve sat in Cadillacs and Lincolns with less attention to quality workmanship. No joke.

One item of note is the door and dash soft materials. Anywhere you can place your hand is pleasing to the touch. The optional leather wrapped steering wheel is thick and feels good in hand. Even the switchgear actuates with a quality feel.

Just sit in one – you’ll agree.

Here’s what you need to know:

Prices start at $19,245 and can crest 30K. My recent tester was the 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited which came loaded with leather, dual heated front seats, nice looking 18 inch alloy wheels, auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote ignition Bluetooth and an excellent sound system; all that for about $25,000.

The base power-plant is a 173 horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 166 lbs-feet torque. The 283 hp V6 costs an additional $1,795.

The entry level LX comes with a four-speed automatic transmission – the rest of the line (both I-4 and V6) have a nifty six-speed automatic transmission. It drops just enough rpm between shifts to feel sporty – even on the four-cylinder.

2012 Chrysler 200 ext rear

Old Sebrings had a soft ride, but handled poorly. Once again, even the base model 2011 Chrysler 200s are tighter, more rewarding and competent than the vehicle it replaces. Despite the retuned suspension, the 200 is never harsh and provides a quiet ride.

Simply put, the guys at Chrysler busted their asses to revamp a universally despised car. I suppose the secret is out about the 2011 Chrysler 200 as many in my field agree on its overall improvement. It is a better car by far and I no longer fear the prospect of driving one.

Sure, I wish the looks further differentiated the Chrysler 200 from the Chrysler Sebring. Yes, I find the 2.4-liter four-cylinder a bit rough around the edges despite competitive mileage numbers of 20 mpg city and 31 mpg highway (the V6 only gets 1 mpg less). The trunk is smaller than some competitor’s too.

That’s it. That’s all I have to complain about. Even the base model pleases me; not only in the improvements, but in the way it stacks up against the competition. As I said – it’s better than average.

On the TFLcar recommendation scale of:

Buy it

– Lease it

– Rent it or

– Forget it

I give the Chrysler 200 a lease it:


Nathan Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his page HERE.

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