2011 Chrysler 200

NAPA VALLEY, Calif. --- The Sebring sedan replacement made its world debut in L.A., but we found ourselves behind the wheel of the new 200 a couple of weeks prior to its public premier. Although Chrysler refers to the 200 as a mid-cycle refresh virtually every system in the sedan is new or upgraded.

New sheet metal, a new V6 powertrain, a redesigned and retuned suspension and an all-new interior give the 200 its own identity. The mid-size sedan features three trim levels (LX, Touring and Limited), all carry the 2.4-liter Inline 4. The LX has a four-speed automatic; the Touring and Limited each have a six-speed auto. A 3.6-liter V6 with a six-speed automatic is available on the Touring and Limited.

The car’s driving dynamics are the complete opposite of those found in the prior Sebring. Loose and unsure have been turned into taut and capable. Stiff enough to ensure dependable road handling without body roll and compliant enough to provide the comfort required of a mid-sized sedan in daily use.

The new exterior and interior are well thought out. The 200 is a smart looking, conservative sedan that is very appealing with well crafted design accents and a new face that is fresh washed and void of snarls and smirks.  Plenty of LED lighting gives the 200 a modern, fluid look. On the inside is a clean and comfortable space with intuitive controls and plenty of available technology to keep the geek in everyone happy.

A new analog clock brings focus to the fine contours of the IP. For the most part the 200 comes nicely equipped with add-ons for each trim level. Three stand alone packages: cold weather; a mid-level media/navigation with a large screen and Garmin mapping; or a high-level media/navigation group with all the goodies, are available options.

More than 40 safety and security features including electronic stability control, four-wheel ABS, a brake override system and a slew of airbags are part of the standard package.

Prices start at $19,995 for the LX; $21,995 for the Touring; and $24,495 for the Limited. All prices include destination charges.  On sale in December.

--- Ted Biederman