By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 5.7
In what must be one of the most ambitious model overhauls in Chrysler's long and rocky history, the company updated or completely remade its entire model line in the last year, including its Dodge and Jeep divisions. Such massive change in a short time is impressive, and none was more in need than the dowdy Chrysler Sebring sedan. Given a new look, a new interior and a new name, the 2012 Chrysler 200 is a far more competent competitor in the midsize sedan class, and no longer feels like a car one would only rent but not buy. Still, its greatest virtue might be its combination of a premium ambiance and respectable performance in a crowd of mainstream cars like the Accord, Camry and Sonata.
If you're looking for a mid-size sedan with a stylish and well-appointed interior, a powerful V6 engine and a decidedly European driving attitude, the 2012 Chrysler 200 deserves a nice, long test drive.
While the 2012 Chrysler 200's Sebring roots are still evident in its profile, it's a new experience from the driver's seat. The front-wheel drive sedan's strong 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 nearly matches the efficiency of the entry 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, handling is crisp, and the cabin offers a premium feel. After such a drastic transformation for 2011, little is changed for 2012.
Driving Impressions Beyond all the visible improvements over the Sebring, the 2012 Chrysler 200 shines most brightly in the way it drives. Equipped with Chrysler's latest 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, the 200 can...rocket to highway speeds or pass slow traffic with confidence. Smooth, quiet and surprisingly fuel-efficient, the V6 is a far better choice than the buzzy 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. Chrysler spent considerable cash revamping the 200's suspension, and it was money invested well. The 200 drives beautifully, corners with enthusiasm, and absorbs bumps without effort. Surprisingly, despite having its 283 horsepower directed through the front wheels, the 200 exhibited little sign of torque steer, even when launched hard from a dead stop. On long stretches of highway, the 200's steering required little input to keep the car on course, and uneven or grooved pavement did not upset its manners. The styling and finish of the 200 are no mere window dressings on the old Sebring. This is a far better car.
Where the old Sebring drove like a softly sprung rental car, the 200's revamped suspension and steering place it at the top of its category. It's an unexpected but welcome pleasure.
Garmin Navigation Radio
Chrysler's newest audio units feature mapping by industry leader Garmin. Not only is the system intuitively easy to operate, the large 6.5-inch screen makes it easy for older eyes to navigate the on-screen commands.
Goodbye, sow's ear; hello, silk purse. The Sebring's hard plastic finishes and dowdy colors are replaced by deep blacks, rich browns and warm tans. Sweeping, richly textured, soft-touch surfaces display fewer seams but more chrome and metallic trim, elevating the 200's cabin to business class if not first. Layered trim replaces unsightly gaps, and instrumentation combines modern function with classic style. Both cloth and leather seats are well-tailored, but rear legroom is tight if the front seats are adjusted for six-footers. A driver's lumbar adjuster and split-folding rear seatbacks are standard on every model. Noise insulation is admirable; great for Bluetooth users.Exterior
Forget the awkward Sebring and its grooved hood. The 200, as its name implies, looks more like a junior Chrysler 300, with LED-accented headlights flanking the new corporate grille. Around back, a thin chrome crossbar bridges slim wraparound taillights. Chrome details are generous but tasteful, and 17- and 18-inch wheels add to its premium presence. The 200 sits lower than the Sebring, for a more aggressive stance, and Chrysler even took pains to conceal the more unsightly underpinnings visible on the Sebring. The overall effect is a car that went to finishing school rather than being rushed to market.
The entry-level Chrysler 200 LX features a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, a 4-speed automatic transmission, power windows, mirrors and locks, keyless entry and remote trunk release, heated side mirrors, 17-inch wheel covers, manual air conditioning with filtration, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, driver's-seat manual lumbar support and height adjustment, and an AM/FM stereo with MP3 compatible CD player and an auxiliary audio input jack. Instruments feature LED lighting, an outside temperature display and an analog clock. Standard safety features include 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic traction and stability control, front-seat side-impact airbags, and front and rear side-curtain airbags.
Above the 200 LX, the three remaining trims are the Touring, Limited and S, all of which include a 6-speed automatic transmission, aluminum-alloy wheels, automatic on/off headlights, 8-way power driver's seat, SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The luxury-oriented Limited adds leather, heated front seats, 18-inch wheels, touch-screen audio system with a hard drive (though navigation is optional on all but the LX), foglights, remote start and Chrysler's UConnect hands-free phone setup. The 200 S upgrades the Limited features with the V6 standard, along with Boston Acoustics audio and sportier trim inside and out, including suede seating inserts.
Chrysler's 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is not the most refined engine in its class, but with 173 horsepower on tap, it's not the weakest either. When paired with the 6-speed transmission, this engine can move the 200 briskly and promises fuel economy near the top of its class. If you can pony up the extra $1,750, the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is the engine to have. Smooth, potent and nearly as efficient, it turns the 200 from a sleeper to a keeper.
2.4-liter in-line 4
173 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
166 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 (4-speed automatic), 20/31 (6-speed automatic)
283 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/29
By Jimmy on Sunday, March 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,357overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, very little road noise with top down"
Cons: "only rear entry/exit with convertible top up"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Only weakness is minor effort to rear seat entrance or exit with the convertible top up. With the top down an absolute dream enter or exit the rear seat."
By meg on Tuesday, December 31, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "spacious,great gas mileage"
Cons: "not the best in snow, tires are expensive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I purchased this car in 2012 brand new. It rides smooth, the gas mileage is amazing. Plenty of arm room for the driver and as a passenger it's quite roomy and comfortable as well.. In the snow it's not bad, it's not fantastic. But, the traction control is excellent I have never even come close to going off the road when it's slippery. Could it be better in the snow sure, but the only way you'd find something better is if you purchased an SUV in my opinion. As I said gas mileage is great, if you are on the highway using cruise control you can easily get at least 500 miles per tank of gas. The tires however are a bit pricey."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Yosinava on Monday, December 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "easy to control, spacious salon and trunk, fair $"
Cons: "single controlled AC, relatively poor mpg"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"It is my first car, so I don'r have much experience to compare it. It goes quite smooth on the road and have a good turning radius. In average it runs about 25 miles per gallon, while 75% of my travel routes are freeways, but I always have AC and music on. The trunk is huge and seats are spacious enough to permit me 6'2 tall 300lbs fat man to drive it or travel as a passenger with comfort. Design is retroish and I like it. However, the weather-control is single, so both driver and passenger have to compromise on this. I have 2,4 liter V4 engine and it performs quite well. I can gain speed relatively quickly (I can easily beat my wife's 2012 KIA Sorento EX). Over all I like this car."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By warlock on Thursday, November 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "For the goodies you get the price is right."
Cons: "Could use a little more trunk space"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"My driving is about 75% interstate/rural two lane and 25% city. The 283 HP V6 feels more like a V8. Average MPG about 30 highway and 26 mixed. So far my total expences have been a new set of tires and oil changes."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Dave on Saturday, November 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love the powere and the looks."
Cons: "The seats could be more comfy and have more suppor"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The trunk is huge. No problems mechanically.Seats not great.Realgood power and 27mpghighway.Easy in and out. Nav system is great.Nice radio system too.This is our 3rd and the best of 3"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Nick P on Monday, October 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quiet interior, good gas mileage- up to 30 MPG HWY"
Cons: "Transmission sofware stinks, brakes dont last."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Bought the car new and haven't had any real problems beside the brake pads wore out completely at 15k miles and the transmission software is awful. I do 70% highway driving and average 27mpg which is awesome for a car with this power. The interior is surprisingly quiet and the leather seats with the "suede" inserts clean very well. I have kids and I'm always cleaning food and candy off the seats. Things I hate about the car- Understeer in the rain is terrible and torque steer while accelerating wet or dry is bad too. I'm a RWD guy so all that might be normal."