2011 Chrysler 200 Limited Convertible

In creating the 200 from the Sebring, Chrysler engineers performed Cinderella-esque magic. The monumental transformation left us with a car that masks its humble roots behind an upscale fascia, powerful V-6, and impressive ride. It's still a long way from challenging the class leaders, but it's also not a rolling punch line, either, and that's about the best you can ask for without a clean-sheet redesign. Without reservation, you can say that the 200 is tastefully designed, comfortable, and well mannered.

I'm significantly less impressed with the droptop 200. While the convertible received the same comprehensive makeover that the sedan did, the Chrysler engineers couldn't cover up the structural shortcomings that came with cutting off the roof. While the sedan rides nearly as well as a Ford Fusion or a Toyota Camry, the convertible shudders so much that you tense at the site of patchwork pavement. The 200 also suffers from horrendous torque steer, but the actual sensation of the wheel jerking in your hands is masked in the rack and power-assist hardware. The net effect is a car that wants to drive somewhere other than your intended path without giving any tactile warning to the driver.

There's not much in the way of direct competition for the 200. But between the Volkswagen Eos and sportier convertibles like the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro, there are choices for those who want an affordable, four-seat, open-air car.

Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor

The rain was coming down in buckets on the day I signed out the Chrysler 200 convertible, so the hard top remained firmly in place the whole time the car was in my hands. On the plus side, I can report that the top did a stellar job of keeping out the elements and is well-insulated from road and tire noise. On the other hand, although the front and rear fascias of the Chrysler 200 are a definite improvement over the previous Sebring, the roofline of the convertible is quite awkward-looking. (To be fair, most cars with retractable hard tops suffer the same fate.)

The 200's V-6 produces an ample 283 horsepower, a marked improvement over the Sebring's 235-hp V-6. Even with the extra power, however, there's nothing exceptional about driving the 200. "Perfectly adequate" is probably the best descriptor. Still, the interior is well put together, with legible instruments and comfortable, leather-trimmed seats. There's enough room in the back for two adults (at least for shorter trips), and the cargo space with the top up is 13.1 cubic feet, which is right in the ballpark compared with most mid-size sedans. With the top down, cargo capacity shrinks to 6.6 cubic feet, but again, that compares pretty well with its competitors. Now that's a statement we rarely - if ever - made about the Sebring.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

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