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2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Review

2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible

KNOWLEDGE BASE: Chrysler Buyers Guide


by Marty Bernstein,
Senior Editor at Large

The Auto Channel's Golden Tachometer Award (select to view enlarged photo)

In honor of recent Hollywood award events (Golden Globes, Grammy and this week’s Academy Award program) that honor a select few for their talents with trophies, I have selected the new 2011 Chrysler 200 convertible as the winner of the Golden Tachometer Award, as my personal Cabriolet Award for outstanding styling and performance and as the best new convertible of the year. It also gets my nomination as a nominee for the best convertible television commercial ever.

For more years than I can remember, I have owned a convertible and really, truly love ‘em, so this review will have a certain bias. From May through September and sometimes October here in Michigan, it’s my go-to vehicle. To me and hundreds of thousands of others there’s no better way to enjoy blue sky and sunshine with the fragrance of spring and summer than a convertible; or if you live in a warm clime to drive and enjoy them year round.

If you’ve ever thought about getting a convertible join me for a look and drive of the new Chrysler 200, you won’t be disappointed. The new Chrysler has developed a terrific new convertible that sets new standards for excellence in convertible design, engineering, styling, performance, craftsmanship and just pure driving pleasure and fun.

The 200’s Exterior Styling Get’s Attention

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The 200 has all-new sheet metal with a clean, smooth, aerodynamic shape that looks great with the top down or up, which is especially nice in a convertible for those that ever drive with the top up. The front, what others see in their rear view mirror, is frankly impressive with a distinctive new grill highlighted with Chrysler’s logo and the use of interesting new headlamps, projector fog lights and the now ubiquitous LED light display. Even the rear of the car – often forgotten or ignored in design -- has been thoughtfully considered and isn’t that nice.

There’s an elegance and sophistication to the new design that’s certain to get parking valet creds at snotty restaurants and clubs or in your driveway. In fact the 200 looks more expensive than it actually is, but more about that later.

Inside the 200, An Exceptional Experience Awaits

Getting inside the new convertible is easy: just open the door and slide onto a very comfortable seat in a very nice ambiance. There’s none of that awkward, knee-bending, back straining, body contortion that’s required to get into or out of those lower sitting vehicles whose tops drop. This is a fun car, there’s no need to hurt yourself.

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Once inside both driver and passenger sit on upgraded seats that are delightfully cushioned for comfort and are covered in nice materials (some optional) that are easy to slide onto or out of and have enough adjustments (six-way) to make anyone happy. None of those stiff uncomfortable so-called body-seats often found in some convertibles.

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After getting seated one’s first look is at the an instrument panel that complements and harmonizes with the exterior shape. There’s a minimalist feel that presents all the essential and necessary gauges, dials, knobs, bezels and switches that one needs in today’s technology filled vehicles without being overwhelmed with techno-thingamajigs. The drivers key gauges are clean, uncluttered and easy to read day or night. The steering wheel has controls for the radio, cruise control, handsfree phone and other vehicle functions so drivers hands are kept on the wheel.


The infotainment – media center has voice command optional devices that are simple to learn and use including SIRIUS Satellite Radio, a 30 gigabyte HDD/CD/DVD/MP3 radio with SIRIUS Travel Link, which provides real-time information of optional devices. All are uncomplicated and within arm’s reach for both driver and passenger. Ambient lighting is becoming a standard feature on many new vehicles, some rather garish, in the 200 however, it is pleasant and yet distinctive.

Peace of Mind with Standard Safety Features

The 200 Convertible’s standard safety features include: advanced multi-stage front passenger air bags, front-seat-mounted side air bags, electronic stability control (ESC) with brake assist and traction control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), Brake Override, active front-seat head restraints, Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) child seat anchor system, remote keyless illuminated entry, SentryKey engine immobilizer and security alarm.

Top Down Drive – What Else -- in Beautiful Weather

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On the recent introduction of the 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible in San Diego I had the unique opportunity of riding with Andy Love, the product plan guy, of the new vehicle. The drive itself started on a lovely Southern California day from a pier in the San Diego port area and from there through familiar roads, freeways and winding twisty parts to a great luncheon and view venue. It was great to get his input and answers to my raison d’etre topics or questions while driving. Here are some of the highlights.

New Engine

From the start the engine sounded different than the previous Sebring convertible. It did because it was the all-new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that produces 283 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Gas mileage is not especially sensational, but an acceptable 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, There was power when needed and it’s instantaneous without noticeable noise.

There’s also a smaller 2.4 liter engine available with 173 horsepower and 166 lb.-ft. of torque. Similar gas mileage of and of 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Both engines are mated to the six-speed automatic transmission that’s very efficient.

Improved Handling

How the car feels when you drive it is one of the most important considerations and evaluations and is the why a test drive of a car is needed. Andy ticked off the number of engineering and design changes that resulted how the new convertible drives. It’s always a personal matter, but I feel the results of the 200 are terrific for a non-sportscar convertible.

Handling characteristics of the new 200 Convertible were re-engineered, tweaked, retuned and modified in a huge number of changes that are way too numerous to list here, but the results and that’s what counts -- are impressive. This is a invigorating fun car to drive. Steer is lighter, responsive and precise, there’s no lag when you turn, it’s immediate and smooth.

Control is excellent. You’re in control, not the car is controlling you.There was very little body sway or roll as I entered the mountains East of San Diego and began the steady, but meandering climb through twisty and curving roads. Best word to describe it? Solid. On the flats of the freeways and Southern California’s beach cities enabling drivers to have an exhilarating driving experience under normal driving conditions.

Engineers also addressed handling during emergency maneuvers. The result: better capability when cornering and more precise steering and stability. New, premium tires provide increased grip and cornering capability, generated little tire-noise and will improve emergency stopping distance and handling performance when its need. I hope you never have to use it.

The 200’s Top Tops all Tops

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The bane of all convertible owners is what makes a convertible a convertible – the top. My first convertibles required getting out to the car, removing the special cover (soft or hard depending on the car owned at the time) and then raising it by hand to the front for latching.
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One of the best modern convertible technological improvements is the push-a-button-to-raise-or-lower the top and this convertible has two very nice options.

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The Chrysler 200 convertible has both a cloth soft top or body-color-painted steel retractable hard top that deploy very quickly when that sudden summer shower brings forth unwanted water. Even when the top is down there’s a big trunk space for golf clubs and of course for tennis rackets.

Three Convertible Models Available

The difference between the three models, Touring, Limited or S is the trim level and options that are available. Here’s a condescended version.

2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Touring Model Standard Features

-2.4-liter I-4 World Gas Engine mated to a six-speed transmission.

-Cloth soft-top;

-Premium cloth seats with six-way power driver and front- passenger seats;

-Manual driver seat lumbar adjust;

-Telescoping, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated controls for audio, speed control

-Analog clock in instrument panel;

-Automatic temperature control;

-Air conditioning; cabin air filtration;

-Sliding sun visors with vanity mirrors;

-Rearview mirror with reading lamps; sirius satellite radio; am/fm/cd/mp3 radio with six speakers;

-12-volt power outlet;

-Tire-pressure monitor display; Electronic vehicle information center (evic) with trip computer and compass;

-Active front-seat head restraints;

-Advanced multi-stage front driver and passenger air bags; supplemental front-seat-mounted side airbags; electronic stability control with brake assist and traction control;

-Four wheel anti-lock disc brakes; bi-function halogen projector automatic headlamps with led light pipe accents; led taillamps;

-Power windows; power locks; remote keyless, illuminated entry; trunk mat and 17-inch aluminum wheels with premium tires.

-Optional equipment available includes the Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine; Uconnect handsfree phone; Media Center 730 touchscreen, 30 gigabyte HDD/CD/DVD/MP3 radio; Cold Weather Group; Smoker’s Group and engine block heater.

The 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Touring model has a starting U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $26,445 excluding $750 destination.

The 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Limited Model

Limited is an oxymoron, it has lots, all the amenities of the Touring model plus these items:

-3.6-liter Pentastar engine mated to the 62TE six-speed automatic transmission

-Premium leather heated front seats

-Remote start

-Media Center 730 touchscreen

-30 gigabyte HDD/CD/DVD/MP3 radio

-Uconnect handsfree phone with Bluetooth®

-USB port for ipod®/MP3 connectivity

-Electrochromatic rearview mirror with microphone

-Universal garage door opener


-New projector fog lamps

18-inch polished aluminum wheels

All-season premium touring tires.

Available options include a retractable hardtop with trunk liner; premium cloth heated front seats; Boston Acoustics sound system; Media Center 730N touchscreen 30 gigabyte HDD/DVD/CD/MP3/Navigation radio; smoker’s group and engine block heater.

The 2011 Chrysler 200 Limited has a starting U.S. MSRP of $31,240 excluding $750 destination.

2011 Chrysler 200 S (Late Availability)

The “S” model is the shortened version of either special or spectacular depending on one’s point of view. It’s for the driving enthusiast appreciates and a distinct style all its own and all about performance, style and driving enjoyment. When released the S will include:

-3.6-liter Pentastar 283 hp engine

-Six-speed automatic transmission

-Body-color mirrors and door handles

-Unique finish on grille and fog lamp bezels

-Blackout headlamp surrounds

-Dual bright exhaust tips

- 18-inch tuner-inspired aluminum wheels with painted pockets

- S” exterior badges. The interior stands out with cool features including a black headliner; black leather seats with digital suede inserts; perforated leather steering wheel and Boston acoustics speaker system.

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Naturally, there’s a big list of options and available equipment, but I’ll leave that to your Chrysler dealer. It is important to note there’s a color palate that’s just about perfect for a convertible including Blackberry Pearl Coat, Bright Silver Metallic, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat, Bright White Pearl Coat, Black, Sapphire Crystal Metallic Clear Coat or Tungsten Silver Metallic Clear Coat (late availability).

And, as most people who have watched television in the past month and have seen the two-minute Chrysler commercial from the Super Bowl or the reduced in length version that’s currently running the new 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible is …

“Imported from Detroit!

I rest my case. Check it out soon.