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2011 Chrysler 200 First Drive Review

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Relevant Link; Chrysler 200 Sedan Specs, Prices and Comparisons - Chrysler Buyers Guide

2011 Chrysler 200 First Drive
Luxury at an Affordable Price

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

I’ve just spent a week with the star of Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” TV-spot that made its premier on the Super Bowl. No, not Eminem, the new for 2011 Chrysler 200. After all, the car is the star of every automotive ad.

2011 Chrysler 200 (select to view enlarged photo)

A few weeks ago, Andy Love, Senior Manager for the 200 and 200 convertible, who has the task of leading the introduction of this Sebring-successor to the marketplace, paid a visit to Chicago. Andy pointed out that the new 200 sedan is designed to appeal to smart, active consumers that expect substance and value. Technology is an everyday part of their busy lives. It’s used to get them where they need to be, when they need to be there and to stay connected with family and friends. The intent is for the 2011 Chrysler 200 to deliver the perfect vehicle for the customer who wants a beautifully crafted sedan, an exhilarating driving performance and exceptional fuel economy, all without breaking the bank.

2011 Chrysler 200 (select to view enlarged photo)

The Chrysler 200 competes in the standard mid-size sedan segment, the largest vehicle segment in the United States, with more than 1.6 million vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2009. The new 2011 Chrysler 200 sedan is available in four trim levels: 200 LX, 200 Touring, 200 Limited and the 200 S (late availability) with prices starting at $19,995.

Virtually every system in the sedan is new or upgraded for 2011, giving the Chrysler 200 its own identity. It will stand out better in the highly competitive mid-size sedan segment while also be better aligned with the Chrysler 300 on the showroom floor. New on the exterior are front and rear fascias and fenders, a grille featuring the new Chrysler brand winged badge, a new hood, a LED positioning light pipe in front headlamps, rear deck lid and exterior mirrors, new projector headlamps and fog lamps, new LED taillamps and an LED center high-mounted stoplight.

Virtually every part of the suspension has been retuned or redesigned for 2011, including 26 of 30 suspension bushings. The suspension geometry was completely re-engineered. The track is an inch wider, tire width has been increased from 215 to 225 mm and the Chrysler 200 has been lowered 12 mm in the front and 6 mm in the rear for a lower, wider, more substantial stance. In general I liked the feel and behavior on the road. For my taste the steering is a little light, but for some it may be just what they want. A good sense of being in control is very evident, however at full-throttle acceleration torque-steer is present at the transmission shift points.

The 2011 Chrysler 200 is offered with the 2.4-liter World Gas Engine, which has been recalibrated and is now available mated to a new six-speed transmission. The new 200 sedan powered by the 2.4-liter I-4 engine produces 173 horsepower and 166 lb.-ft. of torque. For the value conscious consumer, the 2.4-liter Engine also is available mated to the proven four-speed automatic transmission. The available new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine produces 283 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, and is mated to the 62TE six-speed transmission.

2011 Chrysler 200 (select to view enlarged photo)

EPA Fuel Economy estimates are 20 City mpg and 31 Highway mpg for the 2.4-liter with 6-speed, 21 City and 30 Highway with the 4-speed, and 19 City and 29 Highway for the V-6. The fuel tank holds 16.9 gallons that should provide for around 500 miles of all day cruising. By the way, the 2.4-liter uses unleaded regular (87) and the 3.6-liter calls for a preferred mid-grade (89) or an acceptable regular (87), in Chrysler’s words.

My drive was in the 200 Limited with the V-6. The engine is very responsive, quiet and gets the job done very nicely with smooth shifts for the 6-speed automatic, albeit with some torque-steer.

Chrysler says, cabin quietness has been upgraded, resulting in one of the quietest cabins in the segment, and allowing passengers to enjoy their conversations, largely devoid of outside noise. Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) were reduced and 45 new sound deadening treatments were added, including an acoustic glass windshield, laminated side glass usually only found in higher priced vehicles, new sound absorption materials throughout the vehicle and a new three-point engine mount system for the 2.4-liter World Gas Engine, for improved sound and isolation. My drive was mostly on the streets of Chicago with a few Lake Shore Drive and expressway runs. Overall, the cabin is pretty quiet except I did notice a higher level of tire noise than what I like.

2011 Chrysler 200(select to view enlarged photo)

The interior is all new and significantly upgraded. All-new are the instrument panel, bezels, gauge face and new Chrysler steering wheel , which by the way I really liked with its thick rim. Upgraded seats with a new design that incorporates more cushion material and revised spring geometry, as well as new leather and cloth seating materials, are used. The new “soft touch” armrests and instrument panel and new, premium interior finishes for touch points are not only pleasing to the touch, but also to the eye.

2011 Chrysler 200 (select to view enlarged photo)

I liked the new ambient interior lighting and a new Chrysler brand steering wheel with integrated controls that allow operation of the radio, cruise control, handsfree phone and other vehicle functions while keeping their hands on the wheel. An available media center with voice command offers radio, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, a 30 gigabyte hard drive, iPod® connectivity, streaming music capability and a navigation system with SIRIUS Travel Link, which provides real-time information. Power windows that are express up as well as down are a favorite feature of mine. The power mirror adjustment control is located in easy reach from my driving position for precise blind-spot elimination adjustment.

An abundance of standard safety and security features in the new 2011 Chrysler 200 offer consumers peace of mind. The 200 sedan’s standard safety features include: standard advanced multi-stage front passenger air bags, active head restraints, electronic stability control (ESC), front seat side air bags, side curtain air bags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic traction control, Lower Anchors and Tethers for child seat anchor system and available Uconnect® voice command.

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If you are in the market for a good value mid-size sedan, designed and assembled in the U.S., you might give the Chrysler 200 a look.

© Larry Nutson