It’s been a busy year for the folks at Chrysler. Almost exactly a year ago, new CEO Sergio Marchionne outlined an aggressive plan to turn the once-bankrupt company around.
And if anyone doubted him, the proof will soon start rolling into showrooms – starting with a new compact car called the 200 that took less than one calendar year for the Chrysler design and engineering teams to create.
After spending an afternoon in the new 200, the much-needed replacement for the dreadful Chrysler Sebring, we came to see that the maker finally has found a credible new competitor for the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry.
The new 200 looks very much like a sedan version of the 2011 Town & Country minivan, with many of the same visual cues in the grille, headlamps, air intakes and front bumper.
Compared to the old Sebring, the 200 is much sleeker and more rounded at the nose, and carries a better aerodynamic drag coefficient thanks to steps such as lowering the front end 12 millimeters and the rear end six millimeters.
At the rear, there’s a cross-car chrome bar between the new LED taillamps and another chrome bar down between the exhaust outlets that serve to widen the look of the car. All Chrysler models will have a new “wing” logo in brushed metal and blue paint to replace the old traditional wing logo and signify the birth of yet another version of Chrysler.
The roof and doors of the 200 came from the Sebring, but the entire nose, decklid, rear fascia, interior and chassis have been replaced with better and more modern stuff, and the old V-6 engine has been tossed in favor of the new corporate 3.6-liter V-6 engine, which puts out 283 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque, coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission.