2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible review: Filling big boots with the top down

2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Limited

2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Limited

It may seem strange, the new Chrysler 200 Convertible has big boots to fill. Although it was the car auto reviewers loved to deride, the Chrysler Sebring Convertible had been the top-selling most popular convertible model in the United States right up until it Chrysler decided to thoroughly update it.

The name Sebring isn’t on any Chrysler product for 2011, however,  that handle having been wholly debased by years of neglect and even abuse.  So for 2011, the Sebring becomes the 2011 Chrysler 200 and the Sebring Convertible became the 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible. Though there’s no doubt Chrysler would rather send Sebring down the memory hole altogether.

Not surprisingly, however, the 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible was the product of the same forced march that created the 2011 Chrysler 200 sedan, and also not surprisingly, the 200 Convertible turns out much like the Chrysler 200 sedan in terms of chassis and power train.

As a droptop, the2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible loses the four-door configuration, exchanged for a two-door layout, but the hood and front fenders are the same. Chrysler continued the styling themes of the sedan along the Convertible’s sides, and the taillights and rear end treatment don’t differ from the sedan’s, either. The Convertible adds a cutline along the rear fender to allow the trunk lid to open to stow the tops.

Yes, tops, plural. The 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible is available with two retractable tops, one fabric and the other body-color steel. The hardtop, like that of the Volvo C70, is segmented into three pieces which spoon together to take less trunk room.

Seating is snug in the back seat of the 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Limited

Seating is snug in the back seat of the 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Limited.

Like the sedan, there’s a choice of two powerplants, the new 3.6 Pentastar V-6 that’s seeing wide application in Chrysler and Dodge vehicles and the 2.4-liter I-4 World Gas Engine, “proven” says Chrysler, although that’s another way of saying it’s anything but new. The four is rated at 173 horsepower and 166 lb.-ft. of torque and has an EPA fuel economy rating of 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. For the Chrysler 200, the six is put at 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, and paired with the standard six-speed automatic has a 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway EPA mileage rating.

The engines and tops are the primary markers for the two trim levels available in the U.S. at introduction. The 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Touring gets the four and the fabric top. The 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible Limited has the V-6 and hardtop, though the V-6 is available as an option in the Touring. A 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible S, a high-level trim package, arrived in mid model year.

The interior, though modified for the convertible’s, received the same upgrades that impressed us with the sedan, something that should have been done long ago. Either that or the interior trim should never have been so tacky to begin with. Something the convertible doesn’t have is the interior room of the sedans. Legroom is still at a premium in the back and there’s no pretense of three-across seating, a result of the thicker sides required for room for the convertible top mechanism and for chassis stiffness.

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.