New midsize Chrysler 200 to replace unloved Sebring

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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There has been more speculation around Chrysler's Sebring and its expected replacement than just about any other upcoming model changeover in the industry, and for good reason. The Sebring has not only been a dud that needs to be marked down to entry-level compact prices before it leaves the showroom floor, but as importantly it's a blight tarnishing the Auburn Hills automaker's image that has long needed to be removed.

It appears that time has come with the advent of the new Chrysler 200. We expected the numeric name change would be part of the package, although we didn't expect the new model would be here so soon, and also riding on Sebring underpinnings. This said there's nothing particularly wrong with the Sebring platform, but rather its styling and interior execution has been the cause of most negativity.

In a press release that introduces the new 200, Chrysler states it has remedied this problem with "exceptional craftsmanship inside and out," while also boasting "a refined and spirited driving experience, innovative technology, an abundance of standard safety features and an extraordinary level of standard content."

With respect to all-important styling, Chrysler merely teases us with a few choice images. The press release, however, confirms the revised midsize model will get new front and rear fascias, new fenders, a new grille that appears to borrow from the upcoming 300 remake as well as the 200C EV Concept that bowed in '09. It gets a new winged badge flanked by new projector headlamps above new fog lamps that precede a new hood and exterior mirrors. In the rear a new decklid sits above stylish LED taillights, while the centre high-mounted stoplight is also LED for quicker response times. The greenhouse will remain mostly unchanged, although Chrysler will likely disguise its Sebring roots as much as possible.

Power will come from revised 4-cylinder and V6 engines, starting with the 2.4-litre I-4 World Gas Engine conjoined to either a 4- or 6-speed automatic transmission, or the new Pentastar V6 making 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic.

Chrysler says the new 200 gets improved ride and handling tuning over the Sebring, which according to the press release includes "stiffened body mounts and softer ride rate, improved suspension geometry with a raised roll center, a new rear sway bar, and new tires and an extensively upgraded treatment for the reduction of noise, vibration and harshness including acoustic laminated glass for the windshield and front door windows."

Along with that nice, quiet ambience Chrysler promises a new instrument panel, bezels and gauges, newly designed seats with more cushion material and better spring geometry, plus new cloth and leather coverings. Finally Chrysler appears to be taking textures seriously with new "soft touch" door trim panels and "soft touch" armrests and dash, while new heating and cooling outlets in the instrument panel feature "improved design and functionality."

The new Chrysler 200 should also get all of the expected safety equipment as standard, and be available for a price that undercuts its competition by a healthy margin when it arrives in Q4 of 2010.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Chrysler, 2011, 200, $20,000 - $29,999,

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