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Chrysler gave its Dodge Avenger and closely related Chrysler 200 (formerly Sebring) sedans a much-needed refresh a couple of years ago, but despite a memorable ad campaign with Eminem, the car was mostly a case of too little, too late. The overwrought styling, low-buck interiors, busy ride, and a general lack of refinement of the original cars were merely served to show how they should have been a few years earlier.
As they continue into 2013--for one more year before being replaced by all-new models--these sedans stand as bargain-priced, relative to other mid-sizers, but not entirely competitive with respect to styling, features, or fuel economy.
Although the 200 looks dated on the outside, it feels up to Volkswagen standards on the inside, and it 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. While handling and ride quality might still not be its forte, the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and six-speed automatic is a strong, refined combination and the base four-cylinder and six-speed automatic is a tolerable combo; just stay away from the base four-speed automatic in the LX.
The silhouette of the 2013 Chrysler 200 has a way of tricking you into thinking the cabin is somewhat small for a mid-size sedan--and the combination of the tall dash, wide seats, and narrower glass areas add to that visual 'trick'--but once you climb in you'll be a convert; whether by the numbers or from inside, the 200 stacks up really well against segment leaders like the Hyundai Sonata. Even in back, there's enough space for two adults, or three in a pinch, although the high beltline might require some Dramamine.
The Chrysler 200 is missing some of the active-safety features now offered in other mid-size sedans, yet it's a safe, secure pick, with top ratings from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and federal government.Equipment for the base LX model is generous, but it still doesn't include Bluetooth hands-free calling connectivity. Audio systems come with an auxiliary input jack, but base models also lack a USB input or iPod control. Mid-level Touring sedans offer the V-6 as optional and add automatic climate control, a Homelink garage door opener, a power driver seat, and satellite radio. A sunroof is an option, as is Bluetooth and a DVD/hard-drive audio system with 28GB of storage. At the top of the lineup is the leather-lined Limited model, with options on that include navigation with live traffic and voice commands, plus Boston Acoustics premium sound.
For 2013, Chrysler allows more buyers to get the special look of the 200S by offering it as an 'S' package rather than as a separate model. Three different S packages dress up the LX, Touring, and Limited models to include 18-inch polished painted wheels, a black finish grille, fog lamp bezels, projector fog lamps, black headlamps, and a black Chrysler badge.
The 2013 Chrysler 200 remains also offered in two-door Convertible form, offering the same two engines but with somewhat different equipment levels. These models, while a mainstay in rental-car fleets, are reasonably good picks for those who want a convertible on a tight budget and plan to cruise but don't need a vehicle that feels sporty. Back-seat space and trunk space in 200 Convertibles, whether you go for the hardtop or softtop, are better than in most other drop-tops.
- Neat, nicely detailed cabin
- Strong, smooth V-6
- Smooth, quiet ride
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- Coarse, inefficient base powertrain
- Unimpressive gas mileage (4-cyl)
- Bluetooth isn't standard
- Body flex in Convertible models
- Torque steer (V-6 models)