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2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Review


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2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible

Relevant Connection: Compare 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible - Chrysler Buyers Guide

THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG
The Auto Channel

SPECIFICATIONS: 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited Convertible

Model: 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited Convertible
Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 283 hp @ 6,400 rpm/260 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 108.9 in.
Length/Width/Height: 194.8 x 72.5 x 57.8 in.
Tires: P225/50R18
Cargo volume: 6.6/13.1 cu. ft. (top down/up)
Fuel economy: 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway/18.8 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 16.9 gal.
Curb weight: 3,977 lbs.
Sticker: $35,355 (includes $750 destination charge and $3,365 in options)

The Bottom Line: While the Chrysler 200 convertible may not be the hottest convertible on the market, it carries the dual advantage of being an open-air car and of being a coupe.

Yes, Virginia, the top on the 200 convertible is hard, and converts from one to the other in less than half a minute. This two-in-one feature almost makes it worth the asking price by itself.

Almost everyone I know enjoys riding in a convertible. Even the grandchildren (or should I say especially the grandchildren) got their jollies in the back seat. We had to share rides among the seven because there are only two seats back there, but they all worked it out without too much infighting.

As a car, and that is to say with the hard top in place, the Chrysler 200 is a brother to the Dodge Avenger. Of course, the 200 is a coupe and the Avenger a sedan, but both are derived from the former Sebring and Stratus sedans and convertible pre-bankruptcy. the 200 is one of the good things to emerge from those problems.

The 200 is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that appears to be Chrysler Corporation's workhorse engine these days. It develops a nice 283 horsepower and drives the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. I want to stress that it is front wheel drive, because I would swear I heard the back tires slip when I accelerated too hard on surfaces that had sand.

As a coupe, the 200 has nice lines. The side profile has nice proportions. With the top down - and it takes about 25 seconds to lower it and the grandkids enjoyed the show as the hard top folds into the trunk - the lines are somewhat distorted. The boot area seems long. It isn't as long as the old Ford Sunliner, but it is longer that the view with the top up. Of course, the longer trunk is needed to stow the three-piece hard top. A shorter trunk would require a seven-piece top and that wouldn't be a pretty sight.

That folded trunk seriously cuts down on cargo capacity. It drops from 13.1 cubic feet with the top up to just 6.1 cubic feet with it down. I'm not sure what the cargo capacity was in my old MGA, but I'm sure it wasn't even 6.1 cubic feet. Nonetheless, if a couple wants to use the 200 for a weekend getaway ride, there's always the back seat for luggage if they want the top down.

Road manners are good. There was no discernible flexing of the body in our test, and we took it over some tough handling roads.

My one complaint was with the vision, and this time it's in front. Because of the thick header required to secure the top and provide a strong structure in the event of rollover, it's sometimes hard to see traffic lights. Lowering the sun visors doesn't help. There's also a pretty substantial A-pillar, so even with the top down front vision is slightly restricted. However, this is all mitigated by the outstanding 270-degree vision you get. My wife's hair appreciated the minimal backdraft with the top down. This may have been a function of tall headrests, but whatever, it worked.

The Boston Premium Audio system with its 30GB hard drive gave very nice sound. We had options among AM/FM/SAT/Cd (behind the screen)/AUX/USB. The USB connection and a 12-volt outlet are in a tray ahead of the shifter. There are also AUX and USB connections in the radio proper on the dash.

I liked the clear white-on-black instruments with red pointers. I also liked the analog clock in the center of the dash that mimics the shape of the grille. We also liked the simple, 3-knob HVAC controls.

Many people think convertibles are a waste, and to some degree they're right. Convertibles are hot in the summer and useless in the winter. But in the spring and fall, they shine. The Chrysler 200 convertible, which succeeds the good-selling Sebring convertible, gives you the best of both the convertible world and the hard top coupe world, so that should quiet the critics.

2011 The Auto Page