Offered in sedan and convertible form, the 2014 Chrysler 200 is a midsize car that started life many years ago as the Chrysler Sebring. In 2011, an extraordinary mid-cycle update made it look, feel and drive so much better that it earned a new name: the 200.
Specifically, the 2011 update gave the 200 a retuned suspension, sleeker styling, a hearty 3.6-liter V6 and a new interior with vastly improved materials. However nicely refreshed the 200 may have appeared back in 2011, many primary competitors have since been redesigned -- and they offer larger cabins and more cutting-edge styling.
That said, given the 200's aggressive pricing, satisfying optional V6 and newly appealing cabin, we'd say it stacks up pretty well to rivals -- so long as you prioritize pricing and equipment over refinement and modern design.
What's New for 2014?
The only change made to the 2014 Chrysler 200 is that last year's 4-speed automatic is no longer available. Instead, all models now use a more modern 6-speed automatic.
What We Like
Value-priced; respectable interior quality; ample technology offerings; strong optional V6; available convertible with hard- or soft-top
What We Don't
Sedan's back seat and trunk are smaller than average; crude base 4-speed automatic transmission; 4-cylinder fuel economy merely okay
Base-level 200 models include a 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 173 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque. Now that the 4-speed is gone, fuel economy starts at 20 miles per gallon city/31 mpg highway with the standard 6-speed automatic. On convertible models, that figure drops to 18 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.
Shoppers who upgrade to the more powerful V6 get Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar powerplant. It makes 283 hp and 260 lb-ft, and it too is mated to a 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy is 19 mpg city/29 mpg hwy for both the V6-powered sedan and convertible body styles.
Standard Features & Options
The Chrysler 200 sedan comes in one of three trim levels: LX, Touring and Limited.
The basic LX ($22,000) includes 17-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, a height-adjustable driver's seat with manual lumbar support, power accessories, illuminated keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control and a 4-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input jack (but no USB input).
The Touring ($23,500) adds niceties such as 17-in alloy wheels, a power driver's seat, a 6-speaker stereo and automatic climate control.
Topping the range, the 200 Limited ($26,000) boasts fog lamps, leather upholstery, USB and Bluetooth connectivity (optional on lower trims) and a 6.5-in touchscreen infotainment display with 28 gigabytes of digital music storage (optional on Touring) and Boston Acoustics speakers. A navigation system can be added to the 6.5-in infotainment suite.
The S package for the 200 sedan Touring model adds 18-in polished and painted alloy wheels with all-season tires, as well as darkened grille, headlamp and fog lamp treatments, all for $495. The Limited model also offers the same S package contents, and in addition upgrades the interior with suede-like seat inserts and a perforated leather-covered steering wheel, all for the same $495 package price.
As for the 200 convertible, there are three trim levels: Touring, Limited and S. The Touring ($28,500) and Limited ($33,000) roughly correspond to the sedan's equipment distribution, with the Limited model receiving the touchscreen interface as standard equipment.
The S convertible ($34,000) is essentially a Limited model with the sedan's S package interior and exterior upgrades as standard. A soft-top is standard on all convertibles, though a retractable hardtop can be substituted on Limited and S models for $1,995.
The 200 comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, active front head restraints and six airbags in the sedan (front, front side, full-length side curtain), compared to four (front, front side) in the convertible.
In government crash testing, the 200 sedan received an overall rating of four stars out of five, including four stars for frontal impacts and just three stars for side impacts. The convertible was not tested. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 200 sedan and convertible its top rating of Good in every category, except that the convertible wasn't tested for roof strength.
Behind the Wheel
The 200 is pleasant to drive, which is more than we can say about the long-gone Sebring on which it is based. Chrysler reworked the suspension tuning and the result is a surprisingly playful drive. Don't worry: The familiar soft ride is still there in non-S forms, the interior is Buick-quiet and, as with most Chrysler products all the way up to the Town and Country minivan, handling composure is a strong suit.
Easily the most memorable aspect of the driving experience, though, is the hearty thrust from the optional V6, which transforms the 200 into a pretty swift car. There's a disconcerting squatting effect when you really mash the throttle, accompanied by some lightness in the steering, but you get used to it.
The 200's standard cloth-trimmed seats are nondescript, but the Limited and S models' upgraded front seats are a different story and deliver pleasantly firm support. Happily, every 200 comes with the same premium dashboard materials, including a supple primary covering that wouldn't be out of place in a luxury car. We also like the look of the gauges, and the analog clock is a distinctive Chrysler touch.
For rear passengers, it's a somewhat different story, as the 200 sedan's relatively compact dimensions give the back seat an economy-grade vibe. At least the rear bench is rather high, which helps alleviate the legroom shortage. The convertible's back seat, on the other hand, is quite spacious in comparison to most drop-top cars, such as the Ford Mustang convertible or the Chevrolet Camaro convertible. It's quite possible for four adults to enjoy a top-down cruise without feeling cramped.
Kia Optima -- The daringly styled Optima has superior fuel economy and a bigger back seat, yet it's still aggressively priced, even with the optional turbocharged inline-4.
Toyota Camry -- The Camry has great fuel economy, plenty of space all around and few notable flaws. The Camry SE is even fun to drive this time around, easily giving the 200 a run for its money.
Ford Mustang -- If you're looking for a reasonably-priced convertible with a back seat, the Mustang is one of the few others you'll find. Relative to the 200, it's tighter in back, but there's a lot more power under the hood.
For the sedan, we'd go with the Touring or the top dog Limited, preferably with the bargain-priced S package. And if you get the Touring, don't be afraid to add the V6, since you get a lot more power with barely any loss in fuel efficiency. Same goes for the convertible; even though the price point is higher, that makes upgrading to the S model from the Limited even more of a bargain.