The Chrysler Sebring has to be one of the most widely panned vehicles of all time. It’s not that there was anything particularly bad about it, there just wasn’t anything all that great about it, either. The interior quality was disappointing with lots of hard plastic, the seats were only marginally comfortable, the exterior styling was, well, specific to a Sebring, and the engine was loud and not particularly efficient.
If there was a car that embodied the concept of mediocrity, the Sebring was it.
So how does an automaker get out from underneath a dark cloud like that? Simple, in theory: Build the car with some new materials and new engines and give it a new name. In this case, the result is the Chrysler 200. But are the changes enough?
Chrysler needs the 200 to be something of a revolution, in the same way Chevy needs the Volt to not crash and burn on the sales floor. I remain unconvinced either car will achieve savior status, but at the very least the 200 is a step in the right direction.
Style-wise, there are definite clues as to the Sebring’s heritage, but overall it’s a much cleaned-up look. The 200 features fresh front and rear fascias, LED lighting, and new wheels, but I can’t help but see major Hyundai influence in the front grille and a little Jaguar XF in the rear. I find it curious that Chrysler didn’t release a proper profile shot, leaving me to wonder if nothing was done about the Sebring’s awkwardly angled roofline and greenhouse.
About the inside, Autoweek says,
Interior materials will be upgraded with a new instrument panel, bezels and gauge faces. It will feature upgraded seats with a new design that are softer and more comfortable. The armrests and dash will be soft-touch, and redesigned heating and cooling outlets are fitted in the instrument panel.
Under the hood, buyers will have a choice between a 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to either a four-speed or six-speed automatic (depending on trim level) or the company’s excellent 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine. Specific power outputs and fuel economy numbers haven’t been released yet.
It all sounds pretty good, especially the new engines, but will buyers accept the 200 as an all-new car (which it isn’t), or see it as a nicely dressed-up revision of the Sebring (which it is)?