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Just a year after its introduction, the Chrysler 200 mid-size lineup is arguably already better-established than the longtime Sebring models they replaced--thanks to a well-implemented ad campaign, and Eminem. But as fresh as the marketing was, the actual car is strictly a holdover, bridging the gap between the somewhat disastrous Sebring and this sedan's Lancia-based replacement that's probably due sometime next year.
The 2012 Chrysler 200 and 200 Convertible do carry over with the Sebring's bones, but they do away with its overwrought styling, low-buck interiors and stiff ride. Only fleet sales kept the Sebring from being a total disaster, but the reformulated 200 is the better-realized car that Chrysler should have first put on sale four years ago; it's not perfect, but it's a good match for a style-conscious, comfort-oriented buyer.
One of the most important parts of the 200's emergency transplant was its interior; Chrysler gave the 200 an all-new, beautifully sculpted interior that feels up to Volkswagen standards and includes materials and finishes that are a world better than the old hard plastics. Likewise, Chrysler has doubled up on insulation to make the 200's interior a very quiet place (except for the coarse four-cylinder engine's note), and softened the ride. Factor in the newly available 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission, and the 200 no longer feels a step behind.
While the 2012 Chrysler 200 is mostly up to the standards of comfort, space, and safety that you'd find in models like the Hyundai Sonata or Toyota Camry, it's still missing some of the standard features, like Bluetooth connectivity, that all shoppers are expecting. Likewise, look past the sheen of the brightwork and consider that the base 200 still only has a four-speed automatic--and fuel economy is still lackluster--and it's fair to say that this model isn't quite in the top tier...but almost.