The Sebring is dead; long live the 200. After allowing its mediocre second-generation Sebring range to soldier on in the marketplace for four years with little change, Chrysler has thoroughly revamped the car for 2011, and rechristened it the 200.
The name change wasn’t exactly a surprise, but the final styling will be. Chrysler hasn’t completely unwrapped its new midsize hope quite yet, opting instead to tease select elements before the official debut. The nose appears to have been inspired by the 200 concept shown at the 2009 Detroit auto show, although the changes aft of the A-pillar may be less extensive. A new pair of taillights appear on the rear fenders and carry into the decklid, but we’re hard pressed to spot other notable modifications.
We’re more interested in having our first look at the 200’s cabin, which officials tell us is a highlight of the company’s re-dedication to interior design. The 200 receives a new instrument panel, upgraded seating with new cloth and leather trim options, and soft-touch materials on the door panels and armrests.
Chrysler is, however, happy to dish endlessly about the car’s mechanical upgrades. Predictably, the company’s 2.4-liter I-4 soldiers on as a base engine, mated either to a four-speed automatic or an optional six-speed unit. Buyers looking for more power can opt for Chrysler’s new 283-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, which is bolted up to a six-speed automatic transmission. By the numbers, the Pentastar 3.6 bests the Sebring’s 3.5-liter V-6 by roughly 48 horsepower and 31 pound-feet of torque.
Other mechanical upgrades include stiffer subframe mounts, revised suspension geometry, a new rear swaybar, and new wheel and tire packages. Additionally, Chrysler says the 200 benefits from extensive sound insulation and acoustic laminated front glass to help curb noise, vibration, and harshness.
Chrysler hasn’t announced when it will officially pull the wraps off the new 2011 200 range, but says production will begin at its facility in Sterling Heights, Michigan, in the fourth quarter of 2010. Look for additional details, photos, and pricing information to emerge closer to that date.