Chrysler’s wave of new and updated models has been nothing short of spectacular.
And among the cars requiring urgent attention was the automaker’s Sebring sedan and convertible, now referred to as the 200 series.
In the mid-size class, the Sebring was the wallflower of the group. Not especially popular — and outclassed by its peers — the car had become all but shunned by the vast majority of buyers who preferred to dance with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu, to name just a few of the alternatives.
Chrysler’s new Fiat-controlled management group will replace the 200 with an entirely new car in a few years, but for now a new name, fresh sheetmetal and a major engine upgrade will have to suffice.
Are the changes enough to erase any negative thoughts about the previous Sebring? Probably not entirely, but considering the short lead time to develop a stop-gap solution, Chrysler’s design and engineering teams have managed to perform a minor miracle.
Viewed in its entirety, the 200 series represents a valiant attempt by Chrysler to get back in the mid-size game and be taken seriously as a category contender.
Returning for 2011 is the base 173-horsepower, 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, although its redesigned engine mounts are claimed to lessen the amount of noise and vibration that made life unpleasant for many Sebring owners who selected this engine.
Newly optional is a 283-horsepower, 3.6-litre V6 that replaces the previous six-cylinder offerings.
Physically, the 200 still resembles the Sebring of old, but with cleaned-up front-end styling, including a new hood, fenders, grille and projector-style headlights that give the car a classier appearance.
The 200 now closely connects with the full-size Chrysler 300 that has undergone a similar facelift. At the opposite end, a new trunk lid, fenders, bumper and tail lamps also play a part in the Sebring-to-200 transformation.
Even more radical surgery has been performed on the car’s interior. The overtly plastic instrument panel has been restyled and covered in richer-looking soft-touch material and the seats and seat coverings have been upgraded for much-needed comfort and eye appeal.
Topping it off is a new steering wheel with integrated controls for the audio and communications systems.