2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible

SAN DIEGO — Several months ago Chrysler unveiled its new 2011 Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan. Now the company has added a convertible to the Chrysler 200 family that replaces its former Chrysler Sebring convertible. It’s unique in the standard specialty segment as a true mid-sized convertible.

It comfortably seats four adults and has some room in the trunk, even when the power top is dropped. Though not the greatest example of its kind, the fact it’s not part of an actively competitive market and at its price point it should help boost sales.

Like all new Chryslers it’s very quiet and a normal conversation can be conducted with the top up at any speed. Styling has been enhanced with the new sculptured front fascia and hood. It bears Chrysler new, distinctive grille inspired by the 2011 Chrysler 300, with a liquid chrome finish and the new signature winged badge. Exterior enhancements continue with a new rear deck lid that holds a chrome light bar visually connected to the new LED taillamps.

The interior provides a host of amenities that include a new richly-decorated instrument panel and new, larger gauge faces and chrome bezels. They’re especially visible in the dark.

Also, a newly-designed steering wheel with top grain leather and integrated controls for audio, phone and speed control makes for a cockpit-like environment. Even the newly-designed seats have been upgraded with new leather and cloth material. The center console has illuminated cup holders.

Road feel has been greatly enhanced. However, if you live in a hilly environment, pass on the 2.4L DOHC, 16-valve VVT SMPI I-4 engine (173 horsepower/166 pound-feet of torque) in favor of the 3.6L DOHC, 24-Valve SMPI V-6, putting out 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. You’ll feel more confident entering the freeway in front of an 18-wheel, car-eating semi. Both the four and six are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Truthfully, the entry level convertible is still a bit cheesy and it will remind you too much of the Sebring ragtop. The six-cylinder really appears to be worth the extra money.

The 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible comes in two trim levels — Convertible Touring and Convertible Limited. A Convertible “S” will be offered as late-availability. The 4-banger is standard on the Touring while the 3.6L is standard on the Limited. Eventually there will be an eight-speed transmission available for the V-6 engine.     

MSRP for the Touring is $26,445 plus $750 destination. The Limited is $31,240 plus $750 destination.

— Al Vinikour