Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Chrysler 200Fiat washes the Sebring stink off of Chrysler.
-Yeah, it's basically a Sebring but with a new engine choice, revised suspension, better interior quality, and new sheet metal. Eminem seems to like. Should you? Let's drive the 2011 Chrysler 200 and check the tech. Now, this car is pretty ghetto 'cause we have the Limited trim. That's one-up from the base, which is called LX, which means we don't have navigation, no LCD anything. In fact, unless you go all the way to the Limited, you can't even option navigation. So, if you're gonna go CNET style, you start with the Limited. Anything else, and you're gonna be frustrated. Here's the base audio unit. You're gonna have AM, FM. You got a CD slot there. It'll also eat MP3 but not WMA. Aux jack right there in the perfect position, ready to get sheared off when you have your cable sticking out. I don't like that. I could have Bluetooth here. It's a la carte on the low trim car without nav. Of course, we don't have that. Same goes for voice command. Now, our car's the mid trim as I mentioned. It's the Touring, so we get a number of things. We got the HomeLink remote up here, power driver's seat. I've got 6 speakers around the cabin, not the base 4. Bet that sounds good. Then we get a 6-speed automatic instead of a, get this, base 4-speed automatic. I think I had a Datsun from the '70s that had a 4-speed automatic. That's a crime to offer today. But on the bottom car, it's what you get. This is a 6-speed Auto Stick, as they call it, which just means you've got a shiftable gate back here behind drive. If you wanna be real screwy, you can stay with the base configuration, option up 6 Boston Acoustic Speakers which, in theory, are better than the 6 package speakers I have on the Limited (kind of weird confusing mess there). You can go a la carte on the Bluetooth on the stripper base car, but these are not the way that CNET people think about vehicles. Go to the Limited. But I will throw a bone to you 200 haters in this form. When you buy this car, you're gonna hate it every single day you drive it because of this: the damn hinges are set like a jack-in-the-box. You can sit here and play dribble games all day long, which you would think is funny until your leg is in there and it does one of these, which it did to me over, and over, and over while I was driving this damn car. The Limited package is a must-do if you're gonna roll CNET-style. That'll give you a 6-1/2-inch LCD, DVD playback when parked, 30-gig hard drive for media, USB port, Bluetooth handsfree, remote start, etc. Navigation is an additional option on top of that. It comes via the Media Center 730N and that's only optionable if you already have the Limited thing. It gives you GPS with Garmin software, voice command, and Bluetooth stereo streaming. Now, the good news is, they sent us a Sebring with an interesting option. If you get a basic Sebring, you can have a 2.4-liter in-line 4. Can have. I didn't make it sound like it's something you'd wanna do. That's what you get stuck with unless you go for a rather rare these days--a la carte engine upgrade, which we have here. We've got a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. It's an early Pentastar. They don't have direct injection rolled out yet, which will be a big improvement on these motors. But, nonetheless, it's the V6: 283 horsepower, 260 foot-pounds of torque. 0 to 60 on this guy is a pretty darn respectable 6.4 seconds while delivering (not bad) 19/29 fuel economy. Its competitors do a little better but that's not gonna kill you. If you really wanna be miserly on the fuel, go with the stripper version, the 2.4-liter in-line 4 and you'll pick up 1 in the city and 2 more on the highway--not worth it. When I first took this car to the CNET garage, I, you know, I don't check the sticker before. I let the car speak for itself before I read the specs, get a real genuine impression, and I thought, "Wow! That's a hell of a 2.4-liter 4. Wow!" Then I go check the specs and realize we've got the V6. It's a nice motor. It's very smooth, and like I said, you don't have direct injection in this engine line yet. That'll be coming, which will take it to yet another level of power, efficiency, responsiveness I would imagine. You might wanna wait for that in the Pentastar line if you're gonna go for a V6. The driving, overall, is just what you'd expect it to be. It's pleasant, it's fun. This is not a car you're gonna toss around hard. It doesn't have a very sophisticated suspension in terms of sporting driving. But if you go by a 4-door Camry-, Accord-, Sonata-killer for sporting driving, what the hell are you thinking anyway? The throttle responsiveness, you know, one of the key things in really enjoying driving a car, is quite good; a little bit of that sort of loopiness of an automatic, but not bad. You know, I was thinking the other. There are 3 or 4 factors that really matter in car performance and they're not 0 to 60, and skid pad, and all that nonsense. There are important things like tip in throttle response, how broad and flat the torque curve is, how well does the car decelerate, and on all these fronts, this car does a very nice job. Now, look. You're not gonna be inspired driving a 200. I'm not sure it's trying to be that kind of car. But the next time I go to the rental lot and they throw me the keys to one of these, I'm not gonna grimace. By the way, Fiat will soon sell the 200 badged as a Lancia in Italy. Okay, let's price this guy. You can get into a 200, the LX, the stripper, for like 20-grand. Don't waste your time. If you're going CNET-style, go to a Limited right off the bat, which is pushing $23,000; lots of other nicities in there: the Bluetooth, better audio, and all of that. Then, on top of that, add Media Center 730N to get the Garmin-based navigation system and a few other nice tweaks along the lines of USB ports and such. Now, the other interesting option is the Pentastar V6; again, an a la carte engine--rare these days. That's $1795. And these guys are always front-wheel drive, no all-wheel drive to consider.