The Chrysler Sebring has been a fading memory ever since the mid-sized Chrysler 200 arrived on the scene. And even though the 2013 Chrysler 200 may still be based on the old Sebring, it's a tremendous improvement over its predecessor.

The 200's exterior design is sleek, to be sure, offered in either sedan or convertible bodystyles. Each offers three eye-catching trim levels from the base LX to the top-of-the-line Limited model.

The interior of the 200 has a quality look but the leather seats in the Limited are much more comfortable than the standard base-level furniture in the LX. We also like the 200's upscale instrument panel, control layout and analog clock. Limited elevates the cabin further with enhancements such as an optional 6.5-inch touchscreen with GPS navigation. This system may lack the intuitiveness of newer navigation technologies, but it's packed with functionality. And it's considerably better than the standard audio interface.

However, we definitely wish there were more interior space within the 200, especially in the back seat. If lots of room is important to you, the 200 may not cut it. It just isn't as roomy as many of its competitors, all the way down to the tight trunk space.

Under the hood resides a 173-horsepower 4-cylinder engine in the base Chrysler 200. It's adequate but we highly recommend the more spirited V6 with 283 hp. This uprated V6 is available on the Touring model and standard on the Limited. And it gives the 200 a healthy dose of performance.

In addition, the V6 comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission, instead of the "old school" 4-speed automatic that's standard with the inline 4-cylinder engine. A 6-speed gearbox can be had with the 4-cylinder engine but that powertrain is still lackluster compared to the more robust V6.

Despite the higher output, fuel economy doesn't suffer much with the V6. There's only a one or two miles-per-gallon difference between the 200's two engine offerings. The 4-cylinder with 4-speed automatic yields 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy; the 4-cylinder with 6-speed auto has an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 20 mpg city/31 mpg hwy; and the V6 with 6-speed auto comes in at 19 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.

Price-wise, the base LX sedan starts out at only $19,195. The best competitor to compare to the 200 is the Toyota Camry. It offers great fuel economy, more room inside and few shortcomings. The Camry is definitely a tough hand to beat.

The 2013 Chrysler 200 offers a playful ride with plenty of composure, snappy styling and the choice of a sedan or convertible. But we found the interior short on space, the 4-cylinder engine less than impressive and the 4-speed automatic a real throwback. If you're going to put the 200 on your shopping list, go with the V6 Limited. It makes the most sense.

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Jessica Shea Choksey is an automotive journalist and former writer/reporter for the PBS/Discovery Channel television series "MotorWeek." She began her career in journalism as an editor for numerous magazines and publications mainly outside of the automotive field. Jessica currently resides with her family, in Southern California.

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