2011 Chrysler 200: first of a new generation or just more of the same?

The Chrysler 200 Touring improves quite a bit on its predecessor, the Sebring, but its cabin quality and tech options still fall short of what we'd consider entry-level luxury.

Chrysler's small sedan returns with a new name, a new engine, and a new attitude. Does the 2011 Chrysler 200 Touring have what it takes to grow beyond its Sebring roots?
Chrysler's small sedan returns with a new name, a new engine, and a new attitude. Does the 2011 Chrysler 200 Touring have what it takes to grow beyond its Sebring roots? Josh Miller/CNET

Ford and Chevrolet seem to have bounced back from the financial crisis of 2008-2009, but we've been eagerly waiting to see how Chrysler's new generation of vehicles would emerge from the economic downturn. Recently, we found ourselves behind the wheel of one of the first of these new vehicles, the 2011 Chrysler 200.

The 2010 Chrysler Sebring: Does it look familiar? It should.
The 2010 Chrysler Sebring: Does it look familiar? It should. FPI Studios

Sharp-eyed readers and astute enthusiasts will notice that the new 200 looks a lot like the old Sebring. That's because it is the old Sebring, but with a fairly extensive redesign. The sheet metal has been massaged into a vehicle that's a bit easier on the eyes, the lighting has been upgraded with jewel-like LED accents, and the new, slim Chrysler badge has been applied. Beneath the surface, the suspension has been tweaked and the cabin upgraded.

Our example of the 200, the spartan Touring trim level, was mostly devoid of cabin tech options--although the usual suspects of Bluetooth, digital audio sources, and navigation are available--but we were able to check out the more powerful and more efficient Pentastar V-6 engine. So, has Chrysler been reborn from the fires of financial ruin? Is the new Sebring, er, 200 worth a second look or is it destined to yet again fill rental fleets?

To find out, see the full review of the 2011 Chrysler 200 Touring for more details, photos, and video.

 

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