Test Drive: Chrysler 200 S lets the sunshine in

Test Drive: Chrysler 200 S lets the sunshine in

June 16th, 2012 by Mark Kennedy in Business Diary

Chrysler 200 S

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

FAST FACTS

Model: Chrysler 200 S Convertible

Exterior color: Black

Interior color: Black

Engine: 3.6 liter V-6

Horsepower: 283

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Fuel economy: 29 mpg city, 19 mpg highway

Dealer: Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep

Price (as tested): $35,990

Who's in the mood for an open-air ride?

For buyers in the market for a midsized convertible, the options are limited. Many American drivers seem to have lost their taste for convertibles, as they now account for less than 2 percent of U.S. car sales. (Panoramic sunroofs are the rage these days.)

Fortunately, Chrysler offers a drop-top version of its popular 200 sedan which fills the bill as a weekend play-mobile and a solid commuter car for people who still want lots of wind in their hair.

This week, I test drove a 200 S Convertible supplied by Tim Roussell and Larry White of Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep.

STYLING

Our test car was a sporty S-trim version of the 200 model line and came equipped with a convertible hard-top, a $1,995 option. From 20 feet away, the seams in the roof are invisible and the car looks like a coupe.

Flip a switch under the center armrest and an array of electric motors drop the windows and fold away the hard-top panels into the trunk compartment. The process takes about 30 seconds. Nifty.

Inside, our black-on-black test car exudes sex appeal. The comfortable seats -- a big improvement over the old Sebring -- include attractive suede inserts. Plus, the front buckets are heated for winter bliss. Because of the bulk of that hard-top roof, backseat space is modest, with room for two passengers.

Our tester came equipped with a melodious Boston Acoustics sound system, which is complemented by the nicely isolated cabin that dampens road noise when the roof is up. The nerve center of the cabin is a 6.5-inch touch screen that includes navigation, part of a $695 preferred package.

With the top down, the 200 S Convertible wedges through the wind with little turbulence.

RIDE AND HANDLING

The 200 S Convertible is powered by a 3.6 liter V-6 which makes a class leading 283 horsepower. Car and Driver magazine clocked the 200 S Convertible at 7.2 seconds in the 0-60 mph sprint -- not bad for a car that tips the scales at over two tons.

Equipped with aggressive Goodyear Eagle tires on 18-inch alloys, the 200 S Convertible is stable on twisty roads, if not nimble. Our rush hour test drive on Highway 153 was quiet and relaxing, leaving the impression this would be a nice drive-to-work car.

The government estimates that the 200 S Convertible will get 29 mpg highway and 19 mpg city. In mixed driving expect about 24 mpg. Our tester stickered for $35,990.