Still Leisurely, but the Pentastar Shines

We were able to sample both of the 200’s available powerplants during our brief drive opportunity, starting with the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque. Predictably, the four-banger has a hard time pulling two tons of 200 with any sort of urgency, and the standard six-speed automatic transmission constantly shifts in the search for grunt. A $1795 upgrade on the Touring and standard on the Limited, the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 whips up 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The six’s robust, smooth power is far more in line with the 200’s other core competencies, with the bonus of EPA city fuel economy that’s higher by 1 mpg than the four-cylinder’s. (Chrysler estimates ratings of 19 mpg city/29 highway for the V-6 and 18/29 for the four.)

So long as we remained judicious with the throttle, the V-6 drive experience was effortless and relaxed, but flooring it found us doing a torque-steer tango with the steering wheel, which we didn’t experience as much in the 200 sedan. Not helping matters is the 200’s newly calibrated steering, which is reasonably precise and quick off-center but woefully overboosted, smothering any meaningful conversation between the driver and the front wheels. New designs for the front suspension cradle and mounts, as well as retuned dampers, help keep body motions in check during moderate cornering and braking, but make no mistake—like the Sebring, the 200 remains a smooth-riding cruiser decidedly calibrated for the leisure set.

But it’s a much better cruiser. With the top raised, sound-deadening materials have made the 200 convertible nearly as quiet as the sedan, even on the highway. Top down, a degree of cockpit calm is attainable with the folding wind blocker (standard on Limited models) deployed over the rear seats. Unfortunately, the nav system in the 200 Limited loses points when fitted with the Garmin-based navigation system, whose graphics would seem sophomoric on a car costing $15,000, let alone one that commands twice that.

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