The midsize Chrysler 200 comes in sedan and convertible versions and offers a choice of two excellent engines. They are quiet underway, deliver better-than-average handling, and perform nicely when equipped with the 6-speed automatic transmission. The styling is simple, elegant and understated. Chrysler has come a long way with these cars. Its reasonable price, bevvy of standard equipment and good driving dynamics make the Chrysler 200 a solid choice among front-wheel-drive midsize cars.
For 2013, Chrysler replaces the 200 S model with an S package available on the Touring and Limited trim levels. The 2013 Chrysler 200 Touring S package upgrades with 18-inch aluminum wheels, a black finish grille, fog lamp bezels, projector fog lamps and black treatment headlamps. The 2013 Chrysler 200 Limited S package upgrades further with interior enhancements including leather-trimmed bucket seats and a perforated leather steering wheel.
The standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. A 4-speed automatic transmission is standard on the LX, but we recommend opting for the 6-speed automatic.
The Chrysler 200 Limited features a 3.6-liter V6 good for 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic is standard. The V6 is an option on the Chrysler 200 Touring model.
Fuel economy for Chrysler 200 sedan with the four-cylinder engine is an EPA-estimated 20/31 mpg City/Highway with the 6-speed automatic (21/29 with the 4-speed automatic). Chrysler 200 convertibles with the four-cylinder rate a less impressive 18/27 mpg. With the V6, EPA estimates are 19/29 mpg City/Highway for all sedan and convertible models.
We found the Chrysler 200 offers a smooth ride, a solid feel and surprisingly tight handling. The cabin is very quiet thanks to ample sound absorption materials, an acoustic glass windshield and laminated side glass usually found in higher priced vehicles. The four-cylinder engine uses special engine mounts to reduce noise.
The interior is tasteful, with high-quality materials and supportive seats. The instrument panel's gray-on-gray graphics are pleasing, and its white accent lighting is wonderful at night, with nice ambient cockpit lighting.
Because the Chrysler 200 is smaller than many midsize cars, rear legroom suffers a bit, as does cargo space on hardtop models. Surprisingly, though, the convertible's trunk is relatively roomy, thanks to an efficient storage design for the drop-top.
Although the Chrysler 200 sedan is a perfectly capable vehicle, it's overshadowed by many models in the class that have been redesigned or refreshed in the past year or two, including the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry. Other competitors worth considering include the Chevrolet Malibu, Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata. Of all of these, the Chrysler 200 has the most old-school feel. Convertible competitors are less plentiful. The Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro are more performance-oriented. The Volkswagen Eos is pricier, but features a retractable hardtop.
The Chrysler 200 comes with a 5-year 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and is built at Chrysler's assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
The Chrysler 200 is not a car that gathers second looks. It bears family resemblance to the Town and Country minivan, particularly noticeable in the headlamps, air intakes and front bumper. The Chrysler 200 front air dam is clean: low, thin, and horizontal. Its halogen headlights appear small from head-on, but flow around the front corners into the bulging fenders, creating a line that widens to the rear of the car. It's bold, but not fancy.
The rear deck lid looks chopped, with a chrome strip between LED taillamps and another chrome bar between the exhaust outlets that widens the look of the car. It bears a wing logo in brushed metal and blue.
The Chrysler 200 cabin is nice, with seat coverings and trim that feel soft and luxurious. The seats feel supportive and should be comfortable for long periods behind the wheel.
Rear legroom measures just 36.2 inches, which is on the short side for a midsize car. Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion offer 38.3 inches of rear legroom, by comparison, though the Chrysler edges the Lexus ES, at 35.9. The rear seat is split 60/40 and folds down for more cargo space, which is always appreciated.
The instrument panel contains the usual three round gauges, with gray-on-gray graphics that are pleasing to the eye, while its white accent lighting is wonderful at night. The three-spoke steering wheel has a thick leather-wrapped rim and padded hub with controls for the sound system and cruise setting. Armrests are soft, and door pockets roomy. Some models have two USB ports, handy for phone and laptop charging.
The Chrysler 200 cabin is one of the quietest in the segment, thanks to sound absorption materials, an acoustic glass windshield, laminated side glass usually found in higher priced vehicles, and a special engine mounting setup for the 2.4-liter engine.
The standard powerplant for the Chrysler 200 is the 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder world engine Chrysler shares with Mitsubishi and Hyundai. With dual variable valve timing, the power is good at both low and high rpm, and its 166 foot-pounds of torque are sufficient for the demands of its owners. The engine has proven itself reliable, over the years around the world, while delivering good gas mileage.
Fuel economy is an EPA-rated 20/31 mpg City/Highway with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 6-speed automatic transmission in a Chrysler 200 Touring sedan.
In models equipped with the inline-4, we were impressed by how smooth and solid the 200 feels. Even the convertible feels like it's put together well. We noticed very little road noise, and the ride was smooth and solid. The Chrysler 200 also corners really well, with little body roll.
The 6-speed automatic transmission is seamless and not over-programmed. We strongly recommend it over the 4-speed automatic that comes standard on the base model.
The optional V6 engine makes 283 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque. During our test drive we noticed some wind and tire noise at highway speeds. But this is the price you pay for more aggressive tires, and we wouldn't call it unbearable.
Using third and fourth gears on the mountain two-lanes, the V6-powered Chrysler 200 showed off its ample power and acceleration. According to Chrysler, the engine makes more than 90 percent of its peak torque from 1600 rpm all the way up to redline 6400, and our mountain driving supports that, as we had plenty of torque and acceleration coming off slow corners. The engine has a nice, powerful growl when it's working, and you can't hear it when it's not.
The V6 gives up very little to the four-cylinder in fuel mileage, with a strong EPA rating of 19/29 mpg City/Highway.
The Chrysler 200 is a midsize car that offers exceptional value. Available in sedan and convertible versions, it's smooth and quiet and feels solid. Two excellent engines are available and both get good gas mileage, aided by the sweet 6-speed automatic transmission.
New Car Test Drive correspondents Laura Burstein, Sam Moses, and Jim McCraw contributed to this report.