Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 Chrysler 200 Touring in Minnesota

The kids and I had a good time traveling around Minnesota in the 2011 Chrysler 200 last June. We were comfortable, secure from the mosquitoes, and even felt a little stylish when parked next to a Sebring.

Lake Bemidji, Minnesota
Chrysler LeBaron circa 1994 - bad color
When I think of our week with the new Chrysler 200, I'm bound to think of Minnesota, rain, lakes and family. Our kids and I rented the 200 in St. Cloud, Minnesota and spent the next 10 days driving between St. Cloud and Bemidji, with stops along the way to see family and even attend the Norwegian language camp Skogfjorden (one of the Concordia Language Villages). Kjempe bra!

This Chrysler just fit the three of us and our luggage with a sleeping bag riding shotgun, and certainly would have been roomier if we hadn't packed for June in Northern MN (where temps can range from 45 - 100 degrees). The 200 was quite easy to drive through both pouring rain and clouds of bugs with decent acceleration when needed in town or on 2-lane roads. I was surprised when it got a little loose passing 18-wheelsers at 75 MPH -- based on my experiences up until then, I expected a more stable vehicle not a shaky wheel.

200 History

The 2011 Chrysler 200 is the re-tooled Sebring (which replaced the LeBaron). We've rented a few iterations of the Sebring over the years, including a flashy teal green LeBaron convertible for our honeymoon in Maine in 1993. (No car should be offered in that color -- it's just not a good look on a large piece of metal & plastic.) The Sebring's we drove were weak and cheap and so easy to identify as a Sebring. In the last few years the Sebring design was updated, but the name (and associations with the likes of Michael Scott) wasn't. With the new number-only name I'm sure Chrysler is looking to ditch all memories of the Sebring and bring this more modest 4-door up to Chrysler 300 status (although I can't imagine anyone giving the 200 a hi-gloss two-tone paint job). I certainly didn't mind saying "It's the Chrysler 200," rather than mumbling, "I have the silver Sebring."

Chrysler 200 Interior
Driving in Northern Minnesota

Driving the 200
Fuel consumption was fine at 20 city/31 highway, just what I would expect from a new mid-size sedan. The trunk was spacious and there was a pass-thru for long objects like skis or fishing poles. The kids didn't complain about leg room in the back, so it must be ok for the under-12 set. I did think it would get tight to sit behind the driver if you're taller than 5'4". Our 200 had cloth seats and durable carpeting. It wasn't high luxury, but it was comfortable and easy to clean up. The dash configuration was good -- not confusing and not overloaded with buttons and knobs.
And it did include the classic Chrysler analog clock that most passengers thought was fake.

We had a Touring model, one step up from the base. It had two cup holders in the front that took coffee cups, water bottles, and Dairy Queen cups just fine. The back seat cup holders were in the doors and were a bit low for my daughter to reach from her booster seat, but we fixed that by giving her my bigger and taller water bottle and I took her Paddington Bear bottle. (I love Paddington, so it wasn't an issue for me.) There are seat belts for five and LATCH attachments for two in the rear outboard seats.  Even in this lower-end model, the drivers seat was automatic and we had power windows with child lock--out capabilities.

The 200 was pre-loaded with free Sirius satellite radio and also had a CD player. There was a button for a Bluetooth phone connection, but it wasn't set up in this rental. The sound system was average, but with talkative kids in the car who'd just learned a new language and loved singing their camp songs, I didn't turn it up very often. 
A Good Rental
Chrysler has a history of supplying the car rental companies and if you're traveling and renting a 200, I don't think you'll be disappointed. It really is competent and easy to drive. Just don't drop your S'mores on the cloth seats.

S'mores By The Lake

Photos courtesy of Erika Fish, Edmunds, Wikipedia.

(c) Copyright 2010-2016. Erika JN Fish. Car Mama. All Rights Reserved.

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